Production companies are no longer limited to time slots in a few dozen stations and pitching shows to 3-4 big networks like they were in the 1960s. It is now possible to premier three successful shows on the same streaming platform simultaneously, something not previously possible with cable television. Acting as a profession has never been more accessible or safer for women, although there is still progress to be made.
No political party has a monopoly on the television—although major streaming platforms probably won’t be signing a contract with Newsmax, One America News, or Steve Bannon’s War Room anytime soon, they are still easily viewable on Smart Tv’s or with plugins like Vudu.
We take a lot of things for granted that just a few decades ago, no one could have conceptualized. HBO launched in 1975 and became the first American network to deliver programming by satellite, making it the first national cable channel. Followed by Cinemax and Showtime in 1976, HBO was the blueprint for a pay-to-watch set of shows that were not as regulated by FCC content restrictions as the more straight-laced traditional broadcast networks. After the success of these pilot cable networks, dozens of additional channels were gradually added to cable packages through the 2000s as different networks entered the industry.
Today, internet-based streaming services have allowed entertainment producers to meet the viewer demand for content and stream on a traditional television so the viewer experience is similar to traditional television, without the ad breaks.
More options in every genre and on every platform
Scripted television shows (excluding reality shows, daytime dramas, or children’s series)
Source: FX Research
The streaming service renaissance
Itunes began offering direct download in 2005, Netflix launched its digital streaming service in 2007, and soon after so did Hulu and Xfinity’s predecessors Fancast, HBO (2011), Peacock, Youtube TV, Paramount, Disney+, Showtime, Starz, Epix, among others. Accompanying these web-entertainment launches were a variety of streaming service compilation products like Roku, Apple TV, and the Amazon Fire Stick.
The variety of television networks has also allowed television shows to transfer locations and carry on their storyline uninterrupted. “Brooklyn Nine-Nine” a popular comedy ran from 2013 to 2018 on Fox and was picked up for a sixth season by NBC one day after being canceled by its original network. “Designated Survivor” ran from 2016 to 2018 on ABC and then was picked up by Netflix for a third season in 2019. Other transferred shows are Lucifer, Nashville, Cougar Town, Arrested Development, The Expanse, Futurama, Gilmore Girls, Community, The Mindy Project, etc. This is a major change from the network cut and closed tradition that cult classic shows like Freaks and Geeks, Twin Peaks, and Firefly fell victim to.
Competing for customers
A cable package today will run the average American $40-60 per month, while the most popular streaming services range in cost from $10-15 for an access account. Since the streaming service renaissance, cable, cell phone, and internet providers have been competing for customers by adding various streaming incentives to their services. Mediacom cable and phone customers have an access code to log onto Xfinity.com streaming services and Hulu. T-Mobile doesn’t charge customers for data used to stream Hulu, Amazon Prime, and Netflix shows. New deals are constantly popping up as the entertainment and streaming market continues to diversify.
Adapting with the times
Between 2012-2016 the number of original scripted programs on basic cable grew by 63% and broadcast shows increased by 25%, but that growth plateaued and started to slightly decline for cable and broadcast shows in 2016. On the surface it could seem like digital streaming platforms are out competing traditional TV for viewers’ eyes, but consider that traditional TV networks are now offering their own streaming services with exclusive content. NBC has Peacock, CBS uses Paramount+ because they are owned by the same ViacomeCBS parent company, and Disney has Disney+. In 2018, the number of streaming subscriptions (613.3 million) surpassed the number of pay cable subscribers (556 million) for the first time ever.
Entertainment is a major driver of culture. Although CNN, MSNBC, and FOX news are still the biggest players in cable, the modern age of television is anything but monopoly controlled. Viewers can vote with their remotes more than ever before. This choice has given Christian Television Network and the Great American Family network viability in an already competitive market.