End Of An Era: Networking Giants To Lose Spots To Streaming Services?
We call this era for some reason, the peak TV. Why? Remains a question unanswered. Probably it is because there are more TV shows and networks than never before. But that literally seems like the only reason. In fact, to say that there are more quality shows than ever before would be quite an exaggeration. In previous times there would be 5-6 shows out of which 3-4 would be good. But today the ratio of the number of shows to the number of good shows has dropped terribly. That’s now it, increasing digital competition, and declining flow of ad revenue has contributed immensely to the declining TV numbers.
Perhaps CBS is in the hottest of all waters. With its disgraced CEO Leslie Moonves walking out after several harassment allegations, the network is now an orphan. Not only has this pulled back investments from Moonves loyalists, but it has also put the reputation of the network at stake. Previously too, there was a legal showdown between Moonves and controlling shareholder Shari Redstone. And problems have only escalated with Moonves’ dismissal.
CBS’ interim CEO Ianniello was also, a faithful Moonves follower. So, it will not come as a surprise if he too exits the opus as soon as the corporate resolve its administrative mayhem. A general sense of insecurity has taken back producers, who now seem less keen to develop shows for CBS. Even before a wave of controversies hit CBS it appeared increasingly likely CBS would either buy or be bought as its competitors began scrambling to acquire the scale to compete with Netflix.
The acquisition of 20th Century Fox TV promises to upend the status quo at ABC Studios, which in the past year has lost top creators Shonda Rhimes and Kenya Barris to Netflix. Earlier ABC had to scrap its plans of a star wars series owing to the intricate situation that had arisen where Disney ordered the series for its streaming service.
ABC relied on revivals to strengthen its programming line-up. And it did find success with a massive hit (and subsequent public-relations nightmare) “Roseanne,” which premiered to 27.3 million viewers in Nielsen live-plus-seven numbers. However, the success was short lived as the series was subsequently canceled, thanks to Barr’s racist tweets. ABC keeps on losing viewers as well as content creators; it is adamant at fuelling through only its minute reserve of producers. The network deemed Barris too amateur to have his own show; hence he opted for premium outlets and found immense success there.
NBC too has not evaded change and turmoil. It is; however, comparatively prosperous and stable as compared to CBS and ABC. Renowned programming executive Jennifer Salke quit the network recently to assume the position of head of Amazon Studios – another streaming service. She had marshaled NBC’s cult marvelous show ‘This Is Us’. Her exit put two fast-rising executives, newly minted NBC Entertainment co-presidents Lisa Katz and Tracey Pakosta, in charge of development for the first time. An NBC Entertainment chairman Robert Greenblatt was forced into renewing his contract considering the panicky corporate state. He has now been burdened with excess pressure, as now he has to fit in more roles.
The real problem for NBC is yet to arise. Speaking at Variety’s Entertainment and Technology Summit, FX CEO and admired industry tea-leaf reader John Landgraf speculated, “It would be surprising to me, for example, if Comcast didn’t eventually take a step toward creating a large streaming platform.”
Comcast had failed to acquire Fox, and now it will center itself to cash on the growing popularity of streaming services. If a streaming service parallels NBC’s live run, there will be a massive drop in television ratings.
A direct consumer streaming approach is what all the networks must aim for now, as Adgate says:
“They’re at kind of a crossroads. But all the arrows are pointing in one direction.”