Who can remember a single year of television that had programming to match “Grey’s Anatomy,” “Heroes,” “The Office,” “Ugly Betty,” “24,” “Lost,” “Desperate Housewives,” “Idol,” “Deal or No Deal,” “My Name is Earl” — to say nothing of many more — and the current HBO crop of “Entourage” and, my own favorite, (and that of my wives) “Big Love.” Better still let’s applaud the makers and the networks for making shows available free and on-demand on multiple platforms — and doing it with the breathtaking quality of the Move Networks player on abc.com.
The winner by a street is the consumer, who gets all the benefits of self-scheduling and the devices and bandwidth with which to enjoy it. So far, at least, there are no new bills to pay, apart from those from the cell phone companies, who charge the most for the least-good user experience, and the TV manufacturers whose new devices are worth every single cent. The value of Sling Box and Apple TV remain to be seen, but represent yet further anything, anytime, anyplace options — so either they or the next one along will find a home and a value. In the same vein, we are beginning to see the advertising and revenue puzzles being solved, as well as quality driving audiences and formats creating relevant homes for brand owners. Winners without losers. How splendid.
Is it really the just the best of times? For viewers maybe, but when I look at that list of shows, I can't help but feel we may be heading into a creative downturn... and if you combine that with the challenges on the horizon for key creatives to make TV in Canada, it may also be the worst of times.