Network Television: Could This Finally Be "It"?

The current economic crisis may finally cause an overdue day/week/month/year of reckoning among the major U.S. television networks. Consider the following snippet from Variety about how the networks have gotten away with things far longer than anyone expected:

"I’ve been doing this for 30 years now, and that same question has been asked for 30 years: At what point does the audience get so small that advertisers won’t show up?" says Fox Networks Group chairman Tony Vinciquerra. "It hasn’t gotten there yet."

Indeed, advertisers have been willing to pay more and more each year even as ratings slowly collapsed.

That didn’t make a lot of sense on paper. The networks were, in a sense, being rewarded for viewer erosion, as marketers had to buy more time to reach the same number of eyeballs. Yet it allowed the networks to keep operating mostly within the status quo.

The question, of course, is whether this downturn does the deed. With ad spending in a tailspin, Internet spending hanging in, major auto/financial advertiers going pffft, and audiences having less money to spend than ever, will the ever-shrinking network audience finally be too small for advertisers to care? Could we some some real change across ABC/NBC/CBS? I have more than a few friends in the business who say "Yes", and it sure strikes me as plausible.

More here.