Golden Age of TV

September 06, 2015

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I realized I wanted a career in media, when during my first job interview, I was asked what TV shows I watched. With a position in media, getting to geek out over TV is one of my favorite things about my job.

But it’s not like it used to be. The media landscape continues to be more fragmented every day. While this makes media buying more challenging, it creates unique new opportunities for video content.

As a general rule, shows are required to maintain a 5.0 rating to stay on-air. And shows that previously would be too risky, or deliver an audience that is too targeted, are finding homes outside the traditional broadcast networks online and on cable. I firmly believe we are living in the golden age of television. Let me clarify...

Some of today’s best shows aren’t being broadcast to our TV sets at all. Currently, only two programs out of the 10 nominated for Best TV Series (both comedy and drama) air on a broadcast network – The Good Wife and Jane the Virgin (which is on the CW). And as an aside, I could write an entire post just about how amazing JtV is – and I just might.

Back to the content…

Three of these top 10 shows can only be found via streaming services (Orange is the New Black, House of Cards and Transparent). Transparent even won for Best TV Series Drama and streams only on Amazon Prime. Ratings are no longer the only thing concerning leaders at Netflix and Amazon. As we’re finding out, sometimes it’s more about providing buzz worthy content that consumers can’t get elsewhere. Amazon doesn’t even reveal how many people watch its shows.

As Grace and Frankie creator Marta Kauffman stated, “Let me say, it’s so awesome to do a show on Netflix, because two and a half weeks after we launched, Miley Cyrus does a tweet about your show, and they call and say, ‘We’d like to do a season two.’ It didn’t have to prove itself with audience numbers.”

And we’ve all seen a TV favorite saved from cancellation by online streaming entities. Hulu rescued The Mindy Project when FOX cancelled the series, and Yahoo saved Community.

Some may argue (Grantland, I’m looking at you) that the era, which started with the 1999 premier of The Sopranos, ended in 2013. Sure, the Big 4 (The Wire, Breaking Bad, Mad Men, and The Sopranos) are all off the air, but they are being replaced by new, exceptional options including comedies like Broad City, Unbreakable Kimmie Schmidt, Silicon Valley and Inside Amy Schumer.

If you aren’t watching these shows, SHAME ON YOU. Sketch shows like Inside Amy Schumer or Key & Peele are getting renewed buzz after sketches go viral online. It’s not just about comedies. I know I’ve watched the True Detective season 2 trailer more than I should admit (and not just to stare at my bf Taylor Kitsch). Walking Dead is still alive (pun intended). And while it might not be The Sopranos, I binged Daredevil and Grace and Frankie on Netflix this weekend and loved every minute of it. I’m going to avoid talking about Game of Thrones, as I feel like that’s an entire can of worms all on its own.

Even though Mad Men wrapped up this season, we have some wonderful new shows to look forward to like Woody Allen’s new series for Amazon. As David Carr said in his “New York Times” article, “Barely Keeping Up in TV’s New Golden Age,” “The vast wasteland of television has been replaced by an excess of excellence that is fundamentally altering my media diet and threatening to consume my waking life in the process.”

So what does this mean to media buyers? Yes, people are going elsewhere to consume programming. You can no longer buy one spot on American Idol and call it a night. However, because the choices are endless on what to watch, viewers are making an active choice to watch each show. These shows are not stumbled upon. Audiences are viewing with intention.

Media buyers can capture the breadth of consumer usage, buy video ads online, add cable to your buys, find users chatting socially about shows, engage in the conversation, or buy digital ads on one of the MANY blogs that do episode recaps. People are watching and more engaged than ever on TV content. Enjoy the golden age.