Tuesday, January 15, 2008

We're not the customers here

The thing we have to understand about network television is that audiences are not the customers; we’re the product.

Which explains everything: from the lowest common denominator mentality to cheap production values to the obsession with ratings. Network television operates to get as many eyeballs as possible in order to sell this to advertisers for as high a price as possible.

Television shows, in the words of scriptwriter Larry Brody, are simply bait.

They’re there to make sure that the people turn on their sets and watch at certain times of day. Noontime shows, which used to be musical variety, have become game shows with sexy dancing girls. It’s the cheapest way to pack a studio with balikbayans, get viewers to watch (and text in), and fill up two hours. No ideas required aside from the original game concepts.

They’re there to make sure we watch the commercials in between instead of zipping or zapping. Teleseryes don't have bumper screens anymore. The seconds saved are sold as ad space and, perhaps more importantly, the viewers dare not look away even during the break lest they miss something.

So the consumer rants about product quality don't really register with the networks. We’re not the ones buying (remember, it’s free), we’re the ones being sold.

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