The Death of Network T.V.

Liam Duffy, Staff Writer

There once was a time when people would wait patiently until their favorite television show was on in order to watch it. The reason for this? It was the only way to watch episodic television. Did you enjoy watching M.A.S.H in the seventies? Cool, you just simply had to wait until Monday evenings at 9 to watch it. After the closing credits, you had to contain your excitement for the next episode, for one week.

That era has now come to end.

Thanks to streaming services like Netflix, Hulu, and even YouTube, you no longer have to wait to watch the shows and characters that you love. This is a great thing for lovers of television, and a very bad thing for the big four networks: ABC, CBS, NBC, and Fox.

In the 1980s, the advent of VHS tapes and video recorders made viewing films and television easier for fans. But it did put a little dent in television viewership. In the 1990s, DVDs did away with VHS tapes: and in the process, took away even more viewers from “regular” t.v. or the big four networks.

Viewing ratings are down for all four major networks, and those viewers will probably never return. And why should they? As mentioned above, the 2000s saw the rise of streaming services that are filled with older and newer television series, as well as old and new films.

For a monthly flat fee, our television sets, handheld devices, computers, and cell phones have all become entertainment platforms for numerous t.v. shows and films. Most importantly, for the television buffs out there, complete series are available. And because of this, a new craze has started called “binge viewing.” Instead of waiting for a show to air weekly, or waiting for the complete series to come on DVD, everything is already there for the viewer…and one can watch as little (or as much) as they want at any time.

How can network television compete with this?

Truthfully, they can’t. Networks need advertisements (commercials) in order to make money; streaming services make money through subscriptions. The streaming services clearly have more wiggle room (so to speak) with the way they present their material. This is a situation that needs to be addressed sooner then later, or we will see the death of network television.