Does TV Have Any Gifts Left for Its Viewers?

Netflix continues to challenge the distribution model of traditional, linear TV.

Rich Greenfield points out in a recent blog post that plain old TV cannot catch a break from this onslaught.

As he writes,

“If you think of the core principles of TV for the past several decades, it centered on 30/60 minute episodes each week, with 9/18 minutes of commercials embedded in each episode, with 13-22 episodes per season released on an annual basis.  Netflix has disrupted nearly every part of the legacy TV model…”

Watchers (of Netflix) can see all the episodes of a series on a schedule of their own choosing, without commercials, on any screen of their choice. This has radically changed how they want to experience TV. They no longer want to wait for a specific time on a specific night of the week, no longer want to watch TV with commercials or even want to watch TV on their TV.

Now Netflix is extending their war with legacy TV to a new front. They are shortening the time between seasons. What was normally a full year wait (typically starting in September) is about to become as little as 6 months.

As Greenfield points out, Netflix will release a new season for The Ranch 6 months after the premiere of the previous season and the second season of Fuller House will arrive 9.5 months after its premiere episode.

For fans of either show, this is a gift—a gift that a typical TV channel is not yet ready to give.  In fact, as presently organized, the traditional TV industry is incapable of giving it.

In the new world of TV, release windows have shrunk, the time between episodes has disappeared, the TV screen is just one of many screens and now the time between full seasons is getting smaller and smaller.

These are changes that all TV viewers love.

Plain old TV networks desperately need to think their way out of the dilemma that Netflix has created for them.

What gifts can TV give to its viewers?

About Chris Dorr

I consult with companies on digital media strategy and business development. Clients include Samsung, MTV Networks, Tribeca Film Festival, Shaw Media and Canadian Film Center. I created the Future of Film blog for Tribeca. I have worked in the movie business for Disney Studios, Universal Pictures, Scott Free and in the digital media business for Intertainer, Sony and Nokia. Contact me at [email protected] or follow me at @chrisdorr
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  • Howard Barrett

    Seems like the ripple effect is just beginning. Among others,also interesting to see the increase in “limited run” series on network TV-both as response to cable/specialty cable shorter series runs and spiralling production costs…plus the impact of Netflix/Amazon, etc . Unfortunately the now seemingly age-old “TV seasons” of 22+ episodes on traditional TV that we grew up with, are often interrupted by an endless stream of delays for the festive seasons,sports and other “event tv’ broadcasts- often playing with and diluting viewer engagement, which is what the Netflix’s of the new world seem to nurture