Networks Finally Figure out Streaming Is Their Friend, Parents Need to Do Same

Good article from the “L.A. Times,” touching on how the Internet has forever altered television viewing habits and what this means for the business end of it:

Television production studio executives long have been wary of Hulu and other forms of Internet distribution, fearing they would lead to increased piracy and destroy lucrative secondary markets, including syndication and DVD sales. But video streaming services offered by Netflix, Hulu and are becoming an unexpected boon to the TV syndication market. By writing checks to license library content from networks, the Internet services are injecting new revenue into the TV business and breathing new life into middling shows.

“The introduction of the subscription video-on-demand platform has broadened the opportunities for exploitation of product in a very positive way for consumers and studios,” said Ken Werner, president of Warner Bros. domestic television distribution. “You do not need to accumulate 100 episodes of a series because 40 hours of programming is a lot, so many of these shows work perfectly well on these new services.”

Something the article does miss, though, is how television marathons and DVD have also altered our viewing habits. We like to gorge now, watch more than just a single episode at a time and lose ourselves in that world for hours. This is one reason serialized dramas such as “Mad Men,” “24,” “Breaking Bad,” and the like are such favorites. These shows are addictive — in the best way.

Yesterday, the wife and I watched 5 episodes in a row of “Sons of Anarchy,” and when a new DVD arrives via Blockbuster of “The Closer,” we usually knock out all four episodes in just a sitting or two.

The Internet is also going to be a new boon for older shows; I’m talking “Wagon Train” and “Father Knows Best” — the kinds of shows studios probably don’t think are worth the investment of printing up on DVD. But today these older shows can be monetized via a streaming provider with almost no cost involved in making them accessible that way.

The real winner, of course, is the customer. The very narrow distribution filter controlled by a very few (most of them out-of-touch Hollywoodists) is going the way of the buggy whip. The choices we enjoy now will only multiply over time and the ability we now have to program and schedule our own “Must-See TV” is a splendid opportunity to wrestle away control of the culture from the left.

Now that parents enjoy almost unlimited choices, hopefully they will take advantage of that and introduce their children to the kind of television that fits their values instead of some network programmer desperate to brainwash through a personal agenda. Hopefully people will start to discover and rediscover just how good so many of these older shows were.

One of the greatest lies told both about old movies and television shows is that they’re “simple” and “antiquated” in their presentation of good and evil, when the truth is usually just the opposite.

Contrary to what the the left-wing guardians of the entertainment tell you, “black and white” doesn’t mean “dumb” or “simple.”

This isn’t even a partisan thing. If you want your children to grow up advocating for same-sex marriage, program “Friends” into your viewing habits. If you want your children to learn about chivalry, masculinity, and nobility, program “Gunsmoke.”

Right now, very few control the television culture our kids grow up on because very few own all the broadcast and cable networks, and for decades now, that’s all there has been to watch. A casualty of this is what it does to the attention span. After the pop-pop-pop of MTV and “The Simpsons,” it’s awfully difficult to sit the kid down to teach them the real pleasures of a “Rifleman” or the treasure chest of Turner Classic Movies.

In other words, the left not only controls our popular culture but their programming also rewires the brain in a way that ensures the kind of television that does fit our values feels slow and boring to our kids.

The Internet has changed all that. Now you can control the vertical and the horizontal, you can cancel your cable, you can wrest control away from today’s cultural guardians.

It’s a beautiful thing.