What Is Up With Network TV?

What is up with network TV? Jay Leno is getting an hour during prime time and reality shows are everywhere. NBC.com receives less visitors than Hulu.com and neither can compete with the amount of downloaded shows. The previous business models for televsion are gone.

When you boil it down, TV exists to sell advertisements. Without ads, shows receive no funding and cannot be produced. More to the point, shows will not be produced for large networks that require hefty sums of money to support themselves. There are popular shows on the Internet that are written, produced, and directed by aspiring actors and/or everyday people. One route to making money off these shows is to sell show-themed merchandise (for example, see Red Vs Blue and their store). The world is still exploring other ideas, but we’re likely to see entertainers (I’m thinking musicians, but comedians and athletes come to mind too) exploring new avenues for making money. I predict larger overall audiences who are split between countless niches.

So what got me thinking about all this? One night Andrea and I were watching TV; we flipped through the channels and found two amazing (amazing – adjective: So remarkable as to elicit disbelief) shows on network TV: Hole in the Wall and Wipeout. Because they were playing at the same time, we only saw bits of each.

With Hole in the Wall you get sweet foam cut-outs meandering down a track at goofy, leotard-wearing, wannabe-reality-show stars; when the contestants cannot contort their bodies to the silly shape, they are swept into a pool and rescued by a beefy guy and a voluptuous woman while the other team heckles them. Think American Gladiators without any physical strength requirement or possible danger. Here’s a clip of the original, Japanese (of course) version of the show:

Changing the channel we find Wipeout where a fake torrential rain is supposedly pounding contestants who run an obstacle course that is straight out of MXC. MXC has hilarious commentary and does not take itself seriously. Wipeout, on the other hand, has no positives.

I’m left wondering what is up with network TV? I guess these two shows are cheap to produce and garner enough audience attention to turn a profit. Goodonya! but I’ll take my attention elsewhere.