Fall TV Preview: A New Hope

Yesterday, Stuart Sweet told us that the fall TV schedule will be filled with the same old, same old. I think Stuart is a bitter old man who can’t see that the new TV season will be awesome.

Hold on to your TV antennas, cord-cutters, because this fall’s TV schedule will be great. Why do I say that? Because I believe in the power of competition in free market economics. The success of original programming on various streaming services provided a much-needed wake-up call to TV network execs. These honchos will challenge their networks to create better TV programming. With all the networks battling to create the best shows, cord-cutters who get free HDTV become the ultimate winners!

The Big Dud…
I agree with Stuart in regards to TV’s current state. For the most part, it’s dismal. The TV networks are churning out shows with the same hackneyed plots and boring characters. They put this in front of us and we’ve lap it up week after week, year after year, and decade after decade. TV needs a change, but the networks are too busy milking every last penny out of a dying trend. Typical boardroom decision, I suppose.

Take one of TVs “hottest shows,” The Big Bang Theory, for example. After so many people recommended it, my wife and I decided to watch an episode. We turned it off halfway through because we’ve heard it all before – and better – in the shows from our youth. If all TV was like this, I’d drop my antenna off at the scrapyard then completely give up on the medium. Luckily, it doesn’t have to come to that.

There still are plenty of TV shows that I enjoy. For example, I happen to find Wayward PinesBlue Bloods, and a few other shows to be very intriguing. I also enjoy watching our local news. And there is the original content from AMC, FX, Comedy Central that’s available for free through the stations’ web sites and, in some cases, streaming boxes. So cord-cutters do have access to entertaining TV… And best of all, it’s all free!

Change is Coming…

Something has the major TV networks scared. This trend called “streaming” has many execs wringing their hands and rending their garments. Why? Because it’s the cause of many people’s exodus from traditional TV viewing. This has the TV bosses scared. Less viewers means less opportunity to charge a king’s ransom for ads during prime time.

NBC commissioned a study to find out why people like streaming over traditional TV. They found out viewers like picking up a series from the beginning, then watching it all. In other words, people enjoy binge-watching the shows they like. (Big shock!) If TV execs want to increase viewers, they’ll have to give us a way to stream entire seasons of their shows.

Speaking of NBC and streaming, the “Peacock Network” has more than 2,000 hours of Olympic coverage available through its app. Not to be outdone by its rival, ABC’s new app went live with a bunch of original and innovative content. CBS isn’t just laying back and accepting that The Big Bang Theory will carry them, either. The network is busy developing new streaming-only series for 2017.

Original Content is Key
In my opinion, original programming is the true success of Amazon, Hulu, and Netflix. I hope the TV bosses see this, too, and push their networks to come up with more creative content. Because as Stuart pointed out, some of what’s passing for “TV” these days isn’t worth giving up a weekend to binge watch. If TV networks dedicated themselves to product compelling content, it could be a game changer for TV as we know it today.

If the TV people wants to breathe new life into stagnant TV line ups, they better hurry! Netflix recently announced that it plans to up its original content. By next year, the streaming channel could have about 2,000 hours of original content. By 2020, Netflix is expected to up that number to about 8,000 hours. My hope is that the networks already are working on developing dynamic new TV shows.

Oh, and I have one more request. (I sure want a lot for a guy who gets his TV for free!) I hope that the new programming the networks create isn’t all streaming-based. Ideally, I hope the exciting new shows are broadcast over the air for us cord-cutters to enjoy for free. Those who want to binge watch can do so via the networks’ streaming apps. Again, this would be the ideal situation for me and all the other cord-cutters… even cranky ol’ Stuart.

Only Time Will Tell
We cord-cutters find ourselves saying that a lot around here, but it’s true. Stuart has his theories on the future of TV and I have mine. Only time will tell who’s right. I’m willing to hold out hope that the network TV bosses will finally get it. TV needs a re-imagining, and these big dogs have the blueprint on how to make it better. I just hope that when they create this brave new world, they don’t forget all of us who’ve cut the cord.