Losing WFLA, which carries NBC, would be a slight annoyance but certainly isn’t the problem it would have been 5-10 years ago, thanks to advances in technology.
We consume our television differently now. This is a small sample, but out of my friends and family I don’t know a single person who watches anything live outside of sports. They watch things one of three ways — by recording shows and watching them on their DVR when the time is convenient and to avoid commercials, streaming them on their PCs or tablets, or viewing them on the various On Demand channels. No longer are we forced to be slaves to the remote.
Yes, if WFLA were to be dropped we’d lose the ability to record their programming, which should effect On Demand as well, but that still leaves the streaming option.
This October TVGuide.com study shows that of the 2,306 people polled “42 percent are watching more streaming content than last year” and 68 percent “are watching one to five hours of video per week via apps on their mobile devices.”
Those numbers aren’t likely to decline as we move forward. If you miss any NBC show you can go to their website and watch full episodes the next day or shortly thereafter. The same goes for Hulu.com of which NBC Universal owns 32 percent.
For the longest time NBC was last in the fall ratings for the big four networks — NBC, ABC, CBS and FOX. This fall, however, they finished first thanks in very large part to The Voice and Sunday Night Football. Those two shows are carrying the network.
Even media darling Parks and Recreation has trouble drawing viewers. WFLA would be able to use those successes as leverage in their negotiations with Bright House, except for the fact the The Voice ended last week and the football season is nearly over. Also working against them is Sunday Night Football streaming live online, negating the need to watch it on television, something NBC promotes the hell out of during the broadcast.
We’re a changing culture. Disputes between cable providers and networks are going to seem more trivial as time marches on, especially as technology keeps evolving, allowing us to consume our television in better, more self-serving ways.
Or, you know, you could always buy a $5 antenna from Wal-Mart.
CL welcomes Erik Hahmann as a TV news and features contributor.