NBC to Comcast: Let the TV Apocalypse Begin

To the great chagrin of floundering Tonight Show host Conan O’Brian, NBC was sold to Comcast Corp. and not Jay Z as he had hoped.

Usually, I get really scared about the size of these huge media conglomerates. You see, someone forgot to tell the FCC that it was more important to stop Rupert Murdoch from owning the entire country than it was to stop unpixilated pictures of Adam Lambert kissing a man from appearing on Good Morning America. But seeing NBC going down for pennies on the dollar is something I find kind of heartwarming.

You see – it actually means the following wonderful thing. Television is dead!

I’m not just talking network television. I’m talking about all television. The networks will go first, but soon it will all be gone. Personally, I think it’s a good thing maybe even a great thing – just stay with me and let the future enfold upon you like a gentle dream.

Being a network now means next to nothing.

Some people claim that there are still hoards of people down South or in the poorer urban landscapes of our country that only have access to four channels. Not only do these people only watch these four stations, but they are so lazy and ignorant that they pick what they are going to start watching at 8PM and then leave on that same station until they go to sleep at night.

Really?

I remember 1975.

There were three channels that got good reception. You didn’t have a remote control (Imagine having to describe that to your kids – Back in the day, we had to get up off of our asses and actually manually change the channel! I bet they’ll be more likely to believe that you walked three miles to school through three feet of snow from the age of 5 on up.).

There were other weird UHF stations, but you were likely to get a lot of fuzz and vertical skipping with them. A show would have to be really good back then to actually make watching UHF worthwhile.

It’s no longer 1975.

The people without cable television these days are mostly intellectual snobs who have forsaken the medium completely. On the other hand, there are ten times that many people who now have remote control cable access in their cars.

(When I was young and my family went on a road trip, I’d be crunched up on the floor of the backseat of an Oldsmobile with a comic book or two. My sister’s kids ride in a luxurious van. They each have their own recliner and their own entertainment system. If my parents drove at night, I was basically stuck staring at the back of my father’s head for two hours. Today’s kids have their choice of like 400 different DVD’s to watch. That, in and of itself, is better than any vacation my family ever took! )

Sure, NBC will still be one of the first ten channels on the dial, but does anyone really care whether they are watching channel 3 or channel 187 anymore? 90% of the country doesn’t even watch entire programs so much as they just surf from channel to channel. These people watch every other station for like 30 seconds at a time. By the time they get back to their original program, it’s been at least a half hour and there are now new programs to surf through.

These people shouldn’t be disparaged, because outside of live events like assassinations or football games mindlessly surfing is really the only reason to watch real time television anymore.

Look if Mad Men is on AMC, then I’m going to watch AMC that day. If it’s on MTV, then I’ll watch it on MTV. If it were on HBO that would be cool because we’d get to see some nudity (I don’t really mean that. Everyone knows that the chicks on Mad Men are sexy because they are so tightly covered up.). Essentially, if someone wants to watch Mad Men, they’d do it on Al Jazeera if they had to.

America wants what it wants when it wants it. We don’t have Bob Hope telling us what channels to watch anymore.

Back in the day, there were twenty good shows on three channels. Now there are still twenty good shows, but they’re on 20 different channels.

That was bad for NBC, but real problem is that nobody watches television commercials anymore. Best case, dad is surfing on to other stations and might accidentally catch another commercial on the next channel. Worst case and becoming commonplace – they watch on their DVR and fast forward through the commercials entirely.
Tivo never made a dime, but they probably still managed to destroy all television as we know it, and it’s going to get even worse for television stations. Show me a married couple, and I’ll show you two people still watching the first season of Heroes because they are way behind on their DVR.

The only place I have to watch commercials is on the Internet, and luckily the Internet attacks big corporations a thousand times better than the FCC.

It turns all of those television stations into pure content.In the near future, all television will be either be sold on the Internet or some other sort of On Demand service. Real time television will become a thing of the past.

In the past month, I watched every single episode of House. Before that I watched every single episode of The West Wing. Why watch anything the first time through when you can consume it whole three years later after it’s received its share of critical buzz and more importantly wasn’t canceled after episode 13?
If there was something even remotely interesting on Conan, Dave, or Saturday Night Live last night we’ll hear about it from someone paid to sit through the entire thing and watch it tomorrow on YouTube or some other web site. It’s essentially the same process that makes The Soup and The Daily Show must see television. We no longer have to sit through the Tim Kazurinsky sketches to get to see the next Eddie Murphy skit!

In the near future, everything will be randomly released in any format we want and we’ll watch it exactly when we want to watch it. I have absolutely no idea what day, time or station Sons of Anarchy is on, but if my Uncle keeps telling me to watch it, I’ll eventually consume it.

Television no longer has the power to run our lives. If we get home at 8:30 it no longer means that we’ve irreparably missed half of American Idol. It just means that I’ll see it when I get to it, and who could possibly be against that?

We’re right on the cusp of eliminating the middle men when it comes to entertainment delivery and the death of NBC is just another encouraging sign in an ever exciting entertainment landscape. Entertainment is perhaps the last thing America can do better than anyone else on the planet, and thankfully, the money may be starting to actually flow directly to the creative visionaries that deserve it rather than the suits at GE. You know – the guys who thought The Jay Leno Show was a good idea.

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