THE TV INDUSTRY: A
PROFESSOR NATHAN DEWITT, MFA
â€¢ Television is a communications medium used to transmit moving images for advertisement, entertainment
and news purposes.
â€¢ Since July 2, 1928 American stations have been broadcasting television but it wasnâ€™t popularized until the
1939 New York Worldâ€™s Fair.
â€¢ RCA introduced television to the American public with a televised speech by President Franklin Roosevelt.
â€¢ This technology was an advancement on radio waves, a form of communication which uses electromagnetic
signals to send information from a transmitter to a receiver.
â€¢ Network Television: a broadcast signal travels over government-owned airspace to anyone with a television receiver.
â€¢ Cable Television: a broadcast signal travels over corporate-owned cables to subscribers.
â€¢ Internet Television: audio or video data is transmitted via a corporate-owned internet connection to subscribers.
THE FEDERAL COMMUNICATIONS COMMISSION (FCC)
â€¢ Because these broadcast signals (tv waves) travel over government airspace and because cable and
internet television signals are used for broadcasting and mass communication, the US government has
oversight over these communications.
â€¢ The Communications Act of 1934 established the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to regulate
interstate communications by radio, television, wire, satellite and cable.
â€¢ The FCC regulates many elements of network broadcasts, including signal frequency and the timing and
duration of commercial breaks.
â€¢ The FCC also ensures network programs adhere to standards and practices related to appropriate
â€¢ The FCC also regulates Internet Service Providers (ISPs) use of data in myriad ways, though they have no
regulatory authority over internet content.
TV HISTORY AT A GLANCE â€¢ The 1940s saw the birth of Network Television: NBC, CBS, ABC but World War II limited its expansion
â€¢ The 1960s saw the birth of cable television.
â€¢ In 1975 the first satellite was used for the purposes of broadcasting television.
â€¢ Built on the infrastructure of cable and satellite TV (and later mobile devices) he early 2000s saw the
internet evolve into a place to broadcast and consume television.
â€¢ 2006 YouTube goes live
â€¢ 2007 Netflix adds their streaming service.
â€¢ The internet solves the same problem as TV â€“ get a signal to a consumer â€“ but it does it in a faster, more
â€¢ Comcast: NBC, CNBC, MSNBC, USA, Bravo, Golf Channel, SyFy, E!, NBC Sports, Dreamworks, animation,
Peacock, Vox, Telemundo, Universal Studios, Xfinity, Buzzfeed.
â€¢ AT&T: Warner Media (joint venture with CBS), HBO, Cinemax, HBO Go, Max and Plus, Cartoon Network,
TBS, TNT, Adult Swim, Warner Bros Pictures, DirecTV, U-Verse, DC Comics, Caste Rock, AT&T Mobility and
â€¢ The Walt Disney Company: ABC, ESPN, Disney+, Disney Channel, Freeform, FX etc, A&E, Lifetime, 20th
Century Fox, Lucasfilm, Marvel Studios, Pixar Animation Studios, Hulu.
â€¢ Viacom/CBS: CBS, The CW (in joint venture with Warner Media), Showtime, MTV, Nickelodeon, Comedy
Central, BET, VH1, CMT, Paramount Pictures and lots of radio stations and book publisher Simon and
â€¢ Fox Corporation: Fox Broadcasting Company, Fox News, Fox Sports, FX1.
â€¢ Alphabet: Google, YouTube, Gmail
â€¢ Jeff Bezos: The Washington Post, Amazon.com and Amazon Prime Video
â€¢ Discovery Inc: Discovery Channel, TLC, Animal Planet, HGTV, Food Network, Travel Channel
â€¢ James Dolan AMC Networks (AMC, IFC, IFC Films, SundanceTV)
30 MINUTE SHOWS
â€¢ 30 minute shows are usually called comedies or sitcoms, though they can often feature serious issues.
â€¢ Sitcom genre is defined by how the show is produced.
â€¢ Multi-camera shows have a laugh track and are shot on large sound stages with an audience.
â€¢ FRIENDS, THE BIG BANG THEORY, 2 BROKE GIRLS
â€¢ Single-camera shows have no laugh track and look more like a movie. They are shot on closed sets.
â€¢ NEW GIRL, 30 ROCK and BROOKLYN NINE-NINE
â€¢ In Reality TV and Childrenâ€™s programming, 30 minute shows tend to be more light-hearted.
60 MINUTE SHOWS
â€¢ 60 minute shows are usually called dramas, though they can often feature funny moments.
â€¢ Drama genre is defined by the kind of story being told.
â€¢ Procedural dramas consist of weekly, self-contained stories with few, if any, storylines lasting longer than one episode. By and
large, you could watch episode 3 and then episode 38 and not miss a beat.
â€¢ THE X FILES, NCIS, HOUSE.
â€¢ Serial dramas have major storylines which overlap from week to week and are consequently best viewed in order. These are
the types of shows most commonly associated with The Golden Age of Television.
â€¢ LOST, THE LEFTOVERS, MAD MEN
â€¢ Series anthologies have major storylines which overlap each week and each season tells on complete story. These are the
types of shows we are beginning to see more of today.
â€¢ TRUE DETECTIVE, AMERICAN HORROR STORY
â€¢ In other genres like Reality TV and documentary, 60 minute shows tend to feature more complex characters, storylines and
â€¢ Between Broadcast, Cable, and Internet TV:
â€¢ 192 scripted shows in 2006
â€¢ 400 scripted shows aired in 2015
â€¢ 455 scripted shows aired in 2016
â€¢ 487 aired in 2017.
â€¢ 495 aired in 2018.
â€¢ *532 in 2019. (not on chart)
Whatever the source of the signal, TV remains
the primary source for news and entertainment
in this country.
â€¢ Commercial advertising is the primary source of television revenue.
â€¢ During the 30 minute block allocated for a tv show only 21:45 is used for the show. The remaining 8:15
consists of commercial advertising.
â€¢ During the 60 minute block allocated for a tv show, between 40 and 55 minutes are used for the show.
The remaining time consists of commercial advertising.
â€¢ We will discuss the reason for this variance when we discuss cable TV in greater depth.
â€¢ Basic cable channels, like FX, Lifetime or TNT, primarily get revenue from commercial advertising.
â€¢ Premium cable channels, like HBO or Showtime, primarily get revenue from subscriber fees.
â€¢ Internet outlets, like Netflix or Amazon, primarily get revenue from subscriber fees.
SPONSORSHIP â€“ THE BEDROCK OF
BROADCAST TV AND BASIC CABLE
â€¢ A sponsor provides funds for the activity of another. Without sponsorship revenue, there is no TV.
â€¢ Companies who wish to have their product or service associated with a particular TV show sponsor that
show in the form of advertising.
â€¢ They do this for two reasons:
â€¢ They agree with the showâ€™s message.
â€¢ The show is a hit with a demographic the sponsor is trying to reach.
â€¢ Sponsors wish to advertise or promote their product or service. In TV, sponsors are synonymous with
TYPES OF ADVERTISING
â€¢ Commercial advertising
â€¢ Commercials during narrative act breaks advertise the sponsorâ€™s product or service.
â€¢ Naming rights
â€¢ â€œInside The NBA presented by Hyundai,â€ â€œThe Kia Halftime Report.â€
â€¢ Product placement
â€¢ Display or use of a sponsorâ€™s product or logo.
â€¢ Product integration
â€¢ Direct incorporation of a sponsorâ€™s product or logo into the showâ€™s narrative.
â€¢ Whatever the form, the cost to advertise on a show is linked to that showâ€™s ratings. Higher ratings mean
networks can charge higher prices for commercials, which means they make more money.
â€¢ The Nielsen Ratings are television viewership statistics which measure audience size. They are measured by Nielsen Media Research.
â€¢ These ratings are measured using viewer diaries and/or boxes which monitor the programming watched by a Nielsen Family.
Monitoring software is also put on laptops and mobile devices to track viewing on digital platforms.
â€¢ Nielsen Ratings are expressed in 2 numbers. Ratings point/ share.
â€¢ Ratings points: the percentage of total televisions in the US which are tuned into that broadcast.
â€¢ Shares: the percentage of total televisions which are turned on at that time and tuned into that broadcast.
â€¢ In 2016, there were an estimated 118.4 Million TV homes in America.
â€¢ So one point represents 1.184 Million viewers.
â€¢ In 2021, there were an estimated 122.4 Million TV Homes in America.
â€¢ So one point represents 1.224 Million viewers.
â€¢ The higher a showâ€™s Nielsen Ratings, the higher the rates networks can charge sponsors for advertising. More viewers = more money.
DEMOGRAPHICS, SWEEPS AND COMMERCIAL
â€¢ Demographics are more detailed information regarding the audience for a show. Audience age, gender,
race, economic status and other factors are all tracked and reported. Sponsors support shows which
appeal to their customersâ€™ demographic.
â€¢ Sweeps refers to the times of a television season during which Nielsen collects and processes the paper
diaries sent in by viewers. These ratings usually pertain to smaller markets but are very important.
Shows tend to have big events during these periods in November, February, May and July.
â€¢ Commercial Ratings are the average viewership of only the commercials. These ratings began being
tracked in 2007 as a result of the popularity of DVR viewership.
TROUBLE IN PARADISEâ€¦
â€¢ Thanks to DVD and DVR and given the rise of streaming and piracy, itâ€™s never been easier to skip the
commercials or to watch TV exclusively on subscription-based services like Netflix, Hulu, or HBO Go.
â€¢ As a result, advertisers are turning away from Broadcast TV and Basic Cable. Per show, revenues are
â€¢ There are more shows, but the average audience size for each show and profit per episode are lower
than ever before.
â€¢ A fascinating time to look at the commercial and artistic changes happening in the exciting world of
COVID 19 AND TV
â€¢ The Coronavirus Pandemic impacted TV production in considerable ways.
â€¢ Due to production shutdowns, some returning shows are being delayed and the delivery schedule for new shows has been
â€¢ More self-produced shows. (Some Good News, Celebrity Cooking shows, etc).
â€¢ Writerâ€™s rooms have been forced online.
â€¢ Sports have returned largely because of the revenue live sports generates for television and those companies that sponsor
live sports on TV.
â€¢ There has been a huge increase in streaming service membership.
â€¢ Disney+ anticipated 80 million users by 2024, they got there in under a year.
â€¢ Warner Brothers released all their 2021 films on HBO Max the same day they hit theaters.
â€¢ Youâ€™re going to end up seeing less risk taking in Television over the next few years. More reboots and revivals, more content
based on existing ideas and characters, and more of the same, tried and true TV talent as these companies make safe bets to
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