Avid TV watchers are very lucky at the moment; there is a ton of quality programming currently available for your watching pleasure. But between premium networks, streaming service, and cable channels, it feels like the major networks are slowly becoming the outsiders in the world of TV. While channels like ABC, CBS, and FOX used to dominate the ratings and do rather well in regards to Emmy nominations, the more flashy and new streaming services have been taking over viewership, allowing their audience to more quickly watch a season of their show, and avoid commercials entirely.
So what's the problem with the major networks? ABC's Executive Vice President of Creative Patrick Moran was recently at an ATX Television panel, where he revealed that streaming services are attracting visionary creatives due to their larger budget and allowance of creative freedom. Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon don't have to worry about sponsors- their viewers are already paying for the service. And this freedom is allowing for intriguing, brave, and less censored television to be created outside of the major networks.
But Patrick Moran does have a solution, saying:
What I will tell the head of the network is: 'You're the last stop on the train of pitches. You're the last stop! [Producers are] are starting at Netflix and then they're going to go HBO and Showtime, and then maybe --- if the train is still going --- they're going to make their way to the broadcast networks. So they have to work that much harder to attract talent, to attract actors, to attract directors. It's harder on the broadcast side to remain competitive with how sexy it feels to be at the new kids on the block like Netflix and Hulu and Amazon. It's not a level playing field, exactly. And it does put the burden on us, when working in the broadcast space, to work harder and do better.
This statement, which comes to us from EW, certainly makes a great deal of sense. The streaming services are shiny and new homes for creatives, so the networks will have to work doubly hard if they are to compete with the growing trend of binge-watching more edgy shows.
Networks heads are truly going to have to change their previous working method in order to compete with the likes of streaming services and premium channels. With so many options for TV shows out there, audiences have a hard time sitting through an hour-long drama, which actually ends up being closer to 40 minutes with commercials. When you can watch Frank Underwood's backstabbing in House of Cards for almost 60 minutes, why bother sitting through commercials and crap to see a new series on ABC, which may not even be enjoyable?
While commercials and runtime don't seem to be flexible, the networks can and should do everything they can to get visionary directors and writers onto their networks. They need to be more true to the art form, without worrying if Tide or Lexis are going to pay for advertising if the show is too edgy. But with the networks' budget dependent on these advertisers, this seems almost impossible.
Do you still watch network TV? How does it compare to your streaming service experience? Sound off in the comments below.