No new television viewers being born

I’m a child of the TV era. Some of my earliest memories are from and about television. I’m the fish and TV is the water. Which makes recent comments by BuzzFeed President Jon Steinberg all the more… I can’t think of the word that finishes this sentence. At a recent conference Steinberg predicted content will be “completely decoupled” in the next five years.

“The average television viewer right now, for right now, for network television, late 40s, early 50s. When you look at certain cable news networks it goes even higher. So you have one of two possibilities: Either at 47 years old, everybody starts watching television. Unlikely. Or there’s no new newspaper subscribers being born, for print. And there’s no new television viewers being born. I think that’s probably the likely choice.”

And this factoid (?) from Pew Research: “by 2015, almost half of all television viewing will be done by folks over the age of 50.”

As much as I loved TV growing up, I don’t care much for what it has become. Neither broadcast or cable/satellite. I’m ready for media evolution/revolution.

Why local TV is alive (if not well)


I avoid local TV like dog poop on the sidewalk but it seems to be alive and well, perhaps for the same reasons millions of people still use AOL. Here’s a couple of pulls from a commentary by Terry Heaton, a guy who seems to know a lot about TV

“The concept of network content distribution through local affiliates is what’s being challenged by the Web. Local broadcasters are middlemen in the delivery of network content to the masses, and that was fine in a world absent horizontal connectivity. My version of Gilmore’s Law is that “the net regards middlemen as a failures and routes around them,” and I’m not alone in this thinking. The networks simply can do their thing far more efficiently — and thereby, profitably — by going directly to consumers.”

Oh, now I remember why I stopped watching local TV.

“Local television is still atop the heap in terms of delivering the goods for certain advertisers, most notably political candidates. Saturating the airwaves — especially in key states — with ads for those running, delivers incredible profits for local broadcasters. This is not going to change, and absent some major innovation that pushes campaign managers elsewhere — perhaps mobile? — the money is going to continue to support local broadcast companies.”

“Zero TV” households

tv-staticThat’s what Nielson calls folks who “fall outside the traditional definition of a TV home. There are 5 million of these residences in the U.S., up from 2 million in 2007. […] The number of people signing up for traditional TV service has slowed to a standstill in the U.S.”

And then there are the “cord-nevers.” Young people who move out on their own and never set up a landline phone connection or a TV subscription. More »

The 700 Club

“We had unwritten policies in place at The 700 Club, for example, that denied access to overweight people. We required people who wrote to us to report a “miracle” to include a photograph, so that we could filter people out based on how they looked. We wanted youngish, intelligent, attractive and articulate people to counter the view that Christians are all stupid Bible-thumpers. We very rarely, if ever, invited guests on the show that were overweight or fit the stereotypes discovered in the Gallup study. When crowd shots were taken in the studio, the camera operators were advised to zoom in on the most attractive people in the audience. None of this was written down, of course; it was just understood.”

Terry Heaton was a producer for the 700 Club in 1981

James Arness

When I heard that James Arness had died my first thought was, “How could he still be alive?!” It’s just that Gunsmoke was so long ago.

So I dug out this photo taken when Craig Watson and I “interviewed” the popular TV actor when he appeared at the Sikeston Bootheel Rodeo. KBOA news guys John Reeder did the recording and Craig (on the right) and I asked some questions. Marshall Dillon signed my Fanner 50 holster.

The post-anchor era of network news

“So perhaps when CBS News signed Couric it understood that we had reached the end of the anchor-era better than I give it credit for. Indeed, when ABC News gave Diane Sawyer the keys to its World News telecast in 2009, they were overtly endorsing the CBS News strategy of hiring a middle-aged bottle blond from morning TV to chaperone all the unschooled geezers turning on their sets at night. Putting Couric and Sawyer in the anchor chairs was admitting that the programs had no future, only a past that could continue to be harvested for profits (yes, the evening shows are still profitable, thanks to pharmaceutical ads) until their audiences finally die off.”

–Jack Shafer, Slate