New technology, by nature, makes other technologies obsolete and changes the direction of industries all together. In the case of television, the ability to watch shows online has dramatically affected the way television shows are created as well as how they gain a following. Instead of studying the broad affects of online television on the shows created by networks, I have decided to focus on the ways networks receive their ratings, and how that affects their decision to continue a show or cancel it.
In the past, ratings have been easy to calculate and even easier to understand. When the show was on the air, how many television sets were tuned into that particular channel? As engineers continue to produce innovative ways to access television, the calculation and understanding of television ratings has become less obvious and significantly more difficult. Between the ability to record a show on DVR (which has now been factored into ratings) and the ability to watch the show online whenever you so choose, the networks have trouble determining how many people are watching the show and what demographic of people are actually watching the show. It is rare today to find a person, especially in the popular teen to young adult demographic, that watches all of their television live on the actual television. This problem can lead to shows being canceled due to low ratings that may not tell the entire story. I would like to delve into this topic and see how the networks are compensating for this new problem and if there are satisfactory results that a show's future can be based upon.
This problem has risen from the idea of potentialities, namely with the internet. The networks probably didn't anticipate their viewers streaming their favorite shows online and disregarding their live airing times. How does this affect the way the media is created? Do producers create media that is aimed towards the internet users even if it gets poor live ratings? If the primary mandate of the networks is to make money, what happens to the popular shows that are only being watched online? The producers want a good following, but they are not making the money they could be with a different show that is viewed more live. All of these questions come to mind when discussing the idea of online television and I would like to look at them more in depth with my research.