Recently, there has been some discussion about the show Gossip Girl. Apparently, it is doing very poorly in the ratings but seems very popular online. To grab a useful term from the nineties here: Duhhhh.
Teens and young adults don’t watch television anymore. Why don’t the networks realize this? Why would anyone watch shows on t.v.? They are filled with ads, you can only watch one episode at a time, and you have to watch it when it is airing. Instead, you can download (and if it’s Gossip Girl very quickly) and someone has already kindly removed all the ads for you. You can download several episodes at once. You can watch them at your leisure. You can put them on an external drive and run them right onto your flat screen television or even pump them onto your ipod for the subway ride to work.
But what I can’t understand, as someone who has worked as a television producer for the past five years, is why the networks are so reluctant to embrace the new technologies, and the realities that come with them. It’s time to adapt. (Well that time was yesterday but it’s better late than never)
Living in Spain, I cannot download television episodes off itunes or from the network websites. I couldn’t even download them from Canada. So where do I turn, mininova of course, now that torrentspy is no more. If I had an option to pay a dollar to download an episode that would be fast and glitch free, I would pay, but I can’t even do that if I want to.
And of course no one watches advertisements anymore. They are annoying. The volume goes up, they are often shitty and have nothing of interest. And now because people skip through the ads with their tivo or Rogers on demand, the same ads are played over and over at every break, hoping that as you run for popcorn, you’ll hear the blaring ad from across the room and maybe the 6th time, it will sink in.
But as many viewers forget, television is not a benevolent service. It is not something offered free to the public to entertain them out of charity. It’s a business and to make money it needs ad revenues. Advertisers are frustrated that their ads aren’t being seen, so the networks and execs put their heads together and come up with putting products directly placed into the shows. This is even worse. It pisses everyone off and when Brian on the Family Guy mentions downloading the latest quicktime application, I know that wasn’t originally intended for the script. And when the America’s Next Top model ‘challenge’ revolves around Walmart’s new partnership with Cover Girl, the fact that I am watching a five minute ad, is not lost on me: CLICK. It cheapens the art that can be good television. It brings the viewer out of the entertainment bubble making them feel cheap and used.
But aren’t we the consumer culture? Don’t us young adults love to spend? Sure, we just want ads that appeal to us. Google has figured this shit out. They spy on all your e-mails and then pick out key words and send ads based on that. Similarly, Gossip Girl could foster it’s online community, have targeted ads on a website where you can download episodes for free and taa daa watch the revival of advertising.
Online is where it’s at. But people want to know more about their favorite shows these days. They want the gossip about the actors. They want interviews, they want to know where Blaire got her dress and headband. They want to know what songs played in the soundtrack to get the album. They want to know what shade of lipstick made little Jenny go from innocent little girl to burgeoning sex kitten. All of these things could easily be transformed into online advertising platforms. And then instead of missing the boat all together or putting the boat squarely in the middle of the screen, Networks and advertisers could once again live in symbiotic happiness.
Get with the times oldies or die out to the likes of youtube.