The end of TV as we know it

Media critic says that network TV's business model will never recover

If we manage to pull out of the recession, when will the television industry recover? Never, says Bob Garfield, an Advertising Age media critic who has just published a new book called The Doomsday Scenario, about the future of traditional broadcast media. Garfield points out that this year’s advertising market has been “disastrous,” with advertising revenues for the networks dropping by 15 per cent. He argues that this is leading to a vicious cycle, with networks dropping more scripted programming in response to lower ad revenues, which in turn will lead to even lower revenues (because there will be fewer shows worth advertising on). The end result will be “the total collapse of the network television model,” with networks holding down costs and finally moving away from the old model of filling each evening with original programming. NBC’s decision to turn its 10 o’clock hour to Jay Leno is just the first step in a future of cheaper, more disposable programming. In a few years, Garfield predicts there will no longer be four networks. “One of the networks will drop out,” he says, “maybe two.” He’s not saying which network will be the first to go, but put your money on NBC.

The Wrap

Looking for more?

Get the Best of Maclean's sent straight to your inbox. Sign up for news, commentary and analysis.