Internet Crushing TV Networks
Sliding attention isn’t only a problem for newspapers, as ABC, CBS, and NBC all saw viewership decline through 2007.
As one gathers with family members over the holidays, it’s easy to trace by age the entertainment choices people had during their younger years. Older relatives might remember radio, or the advent of television, while their children once knew a world of three networks and no cable.
Today, the kids know all about the Internet. Television? Sure, maybe they’ll watch American Idol, or some other reality series that isn’t impacted by the Hollywood writers’ strike. Some might have been into Heroes, but that show wrapped up an abbreviated second season before the strike.
Other than that, people in the 18-49 bracket have left network television behind in droves. Crain’s New York said prime time ratings for that age group plunged this year:
This trend continued in 2007, when after a fairly promising upfront early in the year, the networks failed to produce the hits they needed to re-establish themselves. As of December, the networks’ prime-time ratings in the key 18- to 49-year-old age category were all down: at NBC by 11%, at CBS by 10% and at ABC by 5%.
Before starting this story, we learned of the assassination of Benazir Bhutto in Pakistan as news of it hit the Internet. No one looked for a television; we clicked in browsers and grabbed the story from a variety of sources.
If a major breaking story like this leads to the web browser rather than the TV set, it isn’t difficult to see why people turn to their computers instead of the networks for other information needs. In a world of competition for attention, network TV doesn’t compete any longer.