The Atlantic‘s Michael Hirschorn used 1,750 words to explain why the future of TV is “cheap, live talk” like AM radio instead of serialized shows like Heroes. Here’s the 100-word version:
The serialized format is “a flawed way of telling stories on network television now because of the advent of the DVR and online streaming.” This makes scripted television riskier than ever before. A show like Heroes can be a nine-figure gamble.
As the television advertising market softens, content owners have [turned to] foreign syndication, DVD sales, and merchandising. But these markets are plateauing.
The only thing network television can uniquely offer is immediacy. Leno’s content is hypertimely. SNL, or a show that shares its DNA, will appear regularly in prime time. I wouldn’t be surprised if the Today show started appearing in the 8 p.m. slot.
Expensive shows will become independent of the networks. Networks will become “distribution platforms,” — as a premiere in a movie house now serves to market the DVD, or sell products.
This will mean fewer traditional television shows in the mould of Heroes. HBO and Showtime may loom even larger. Viewers will pay for quality. Those who don’t will get the television equivalent of AM talk radio—cheap, live talk.