On the Scene 10/18: The coming of the streaming age

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The end is drawing closer and closer for network television as ratings continue to fall at the start of the 2019-20 season.

With Disney and Apple both planning to launch their own respected streaming services in the next month, networks such as ABC, CBS, NBC and Fox should be very fearful.

This past week, CBS was down a full 50% in the year-over-year demographic, while both ABC and NBC were down 25%. Fox, struggling, but not as much as the other three networks, fell behind 9%.

According to Ad Age, an advertising and marketing industry, there are currently only four broadcast television programs bringing in $200,000 or more per 30-second advertisement. A feat that did belong to 10 separate programs only four years ago, now only belongs to “The Masked Singer,” “This Is Us,” “Thursday Night Football” and “Sunday Night Football.”

It should come as no surprise that two of the four programs are live sports, as the NFL still brings in a commanding viewership, even though the president says otherwise. But for the remaining two programs to be that of a reality and another in its fourth season – television networks should be ashamed of themselves.

Of course, companies such as Disney and Apple have unlimited amounts of resources and can do whatever they want to with their new streaming services planning to launch hundreds of new original series, but it doesn’t change the fact that each of these networks have been fighting the age of streaming for almost a decade now.

Disney and Apple are coming into the game late. Though, they are walking into the ring already up a few points, it doesn’t change the rest of the competition. Netflix, Hulu and Amazon Prime have been the powerhouses of television for years now and the only network that has taken a shot has been CBS.

But, if you were to look at CBS All Access, there’s not much a difference from that and what it offers on its normal network. Yes, there are a few new series available for viewers; but other than that, why am I going to pay $6 a month for a glorified On Demand service? Not to mention, if you subscribe to AppleTV, a subscription to CBS All Access is automatically included. So again, why would I pay for one when I can get two for the same amount?

Don’t fret though, AppleTV hasn’t come out on top just yet. If you thought that Apple offering two services in one was nice, just wait until you hear what Disney+ has in store. When you subscribe to the new service, which launches on Nov. 12, you can also subscribe to a premium version to include Hulu and ESPN+, too.

With ABC being owned by Disney, it doesn’t look as if the network will have much to worry about as its parent company will most likely keep it at bay.

NBC plans to throw its hat into the competition as well as it recently announced its streaming service, Peacock, will debut in April. NBC, the only network that is going about joining the streaming fun in a smart way, went out this past year and terminated all of its contracts with different streaming services in an effort to bring in viewers for past hits such as “Friends” and “The Office.”

Streamers who use Netflix and Hulu specifically for watching certain shows will be forced to leave the ways of old and sign up for Peacock if they ever hope to watch favorites again. NBC’s plan may sound diabolical, but in today’s world, that’s business.

Adding to fuel to Peacock’s fire, NBC also teamed with USA Network to stream its old series as well. The library of programs that will be offered will include two different channels of series. Additionally, USA Network postponed the sequel to cult classic series “Psych” when it announced that it would hold the show’s second film to debut on Peacock next spring. Needless to say, at least one of the four networks is doing something right.

There is no shortage on television in the near future, but where it will be offered continues to be a mystery.


Ken Downey Jr. is the Managing Editor for Time OFF and Packet Media, LLC. This is a part of his series of weekly columns focusing on arts and entertainment. He can be contacted at [email protected].