Wonder What’s on Television (Looks Like a Penguin?)

I made it a point last night NOT to watch “So You Think America’s Dancing Stars Got Talent to Be Survivors” just like I do every day. 

You see, I’m a writer.  I like a good story.  I like a good story in a magazine, in a book, on television or on the movie screen.  If I like a story I’ll buy the book.  In some cases I’ve bought the book, the videotape, the DVD and may have to buy the Blue Ray or cloud version or whatever comes next.  So many things passed off as entertainment have no story but instead rely on spectacle.  Will this over the hill star succeed at [fill in the blank] or make a complete fool of herself.  It’s like going to a NASCAR race strictly to see if there’s a horrible crash.

It’s easy to understand why so many television producers rely on this alleged  “reality” programming.

It’s cheap.

They’re cheap.

If Americans are willing to accept cheap entertainment, why should the producers spend one more penny than necessary?  Of course, there is the fact that while some Americans are happy with these cheap products, the major networks are not the powerful entities they once were.

Let’s take a few minutes to look at the economics of home television viewing.  There’s a difference between efficient and effective.  Efficient means that the minimum resources are used.  Effective means that the goal is achieved.

Here’s an example; if your goal is to go to Europe, the most efficient means would be to start walking roughly East-northeast.  When you reach the Atlantic Ocean, start swimming in the same direction.  You will not actually achieve your goal, but you will have utilized minimum resources.  You are being efficient.

On the other hand to be effective you could lease a private jet and have the pilot fly you to your destination while you sit as the only passenger drinking champagne and eating caviar.  You will have achieved your goal, although at a high cost.  That is effective.

You could graph the cost efficiency and effectiveness and find that as one increases the other decreases.  There is a point at which the two cross; somewhere near that point is where the ideal situation should be found – the point at which the goal is achieved with the least resources necessary to achieve it.

Why the economics lesson?  So just in case someone from the entertainment industry is reading this.

There’s a reason people pay outrageous cable bills, rent and buy movies.  It’s because many people appreciate a good story, well written, well acted and without the need for a laugh track to tell us when it’s supposed to be funny.  They’re watching niche cable channels instead.  The people who are watching your shows are the same people who read the tabloid newspapers.

Side note to cable companies – as you keep raising your prices people are switching off their cable and just using the internet to watch those things they really want to.

You could always give us something worth watching, perhaps with a good story…


2 responses to “Wonder What’s on Television (Looks Like a Penguin?)

  1. What can I say. You are so right. . .

  2. And if you’re wondering about the Penguin, it’s a tribute to a Monty Python sketch.

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