Essay / Culture

Are you ready for the new media?

Monday night football is no longer on ABCHere is the announcement from the NFL:

The agreement with ESPN covers eight seasons of Monday Night Football from 2006-2013 and includes an earlier kickoff time — 8:40 p.m. ET — for 17 Monday night games per season. ESPN’s Monday night telecasts will be preceded by its highly rated NFL Countdown pregame show, which will continue to air at 7 p.m. ET. ESPN will continue to make its NFL games available on free, over-the-air television in the participating team markets each week. The new agreements thus continue the NFL’s long-standing practice of making all of its games, including the playoffs and Super Bowl, available on free, over-the air television. ESPN also will continue to televise the NFL draft.

I remember when cable was “new media.” Now its penetration is so deep that the NFL can switch to a cable/dish network with little fear of losing audience. The big three continue to be in trouble as more and more original programming appears on cable/dish. For the first time last year our family’s favorite “first run” show (Monk) appeared on cable/dish first.Networks still have huge legacy viewership. Like newspapers in the past they cling to viewers who make a habit of checking them out. The difficulty is ad revenue which cannot forever survive the splintering of the market. I think the Big Four Networks are just newspapers earlier in the revenue loss cycle.The penetration of TIVO or other digital video recorders (my favorite “new” product) will soon make “time of showing” or network obsolete for most Americans. Midnight on the Home Garden channel is just as good for my family with TIVO as prime time on ABC. Internet video delivery means that “pay per view” where viewers watch video on demand cannot be far away.Why watch cable when you can get the show you want when you want it? The NFL will be able to deliver live sports itself over the NFL.com website. One wonders if this is the last big network contract from the NFL which shows increasing sophistication (NFL Channel) in delivering its own product.Of course the networks will not die tomorrow. They will even slow the decline at times and make “progress” with good shows. However, I cannot see how technology is not at war with the old media.Showing people how to find good new stuff. . . seems like the wave of the future. The “network” of the future will be more like a guide system, think Free Republic for video. (Here are links to all the good stuff!)Younger viewers need to be introduced to black and white television. Classics such as the best of the Dick VanDyke Show and Andy Griffith still hold up well. Now someone can recommend the “good episodes” and warn about the shark jumping years of each series. Older viewers need to be shown where the best of the new stuff is with appropriate warnings about new values! New shows will be introduced through this “media blogs” as people come to trust the taste and values of certain critics. These “eyeballs” will generate web hits and justify ad space.If this is true, I am hoping that religious traditionalists can be in on the ground floor. As a result this site will soon be attempting to review most of the major video products. Using very bright college students we will have reviews that are not stuffy or weirdly narrow, but also reflect traditional Christian values. Soon to be Torrey grad Nate Bell will be heading this up for me. This is just a first step, I hope, in becoming a ‘media guide’ (the new network function) to the video out there.Look for this soon!

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