Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Media: Why TV Is Getting Better & Better

(Drivebycuriosity) - It seems TV is getting better & better. For a longtime I believed movies were the real thing. I thought TV had a lower quality and was just a kind of distraction. But now I am addicted to series like "Breaking Bad" and "Homeland". I suppose those productions beat Hollywood movies like "The Great Gatsby" and ""Now You See Me" easily.

Today`s top-notch TV quality - at least for the premier productions - doesn´t come out of nowhere, of course. I guess it started in the 1980s with "Miami Vice" and "Twin Peaks". Neither really matched top movies like "Amadeus" or "Blade Runner" but they were definitely much better than the TV average. TV got stronger in the 1990s with "NYPD Blue" and "Sopranos". After the turn of the millennium series like "Rome" and "Lost" lifted the bar again. And then came "Mad Men".

As an economist, I am asking myself, why is that? I think the advance of TV is a part of the general evolution process. Everything gets better over time. Those who are around a while might remember how the world looked 4 or 5 decades ago. 

1. Since WW II the world has changed considerably and the wealth of most countries has been rising. People worldwide have much more money left to spend for their leisure activities compared to decades ago. Therefore a growing percentage of climbing incomes have been flowing to media companies, including TV channels.

Today producers of TV films and series have much higher revenues and profits and therefore much more money to spend than decades ago.  They can now invest a lot more money in writers, directors, cameras, actors, post production and more, lifting the quality of the productions.

2. Helpful are ongoing globalization and technological progress. Both trends have been creating new markets, enhancing the number of potential viewers. Today TV producers can sell their productions to a lot of foreign TV stations, as DVDs and as downloads.  Online companies like Netflix and are unlocking viewers, who don´t bother to subscribe to TV channels like AMC and HBO.

Therefore the markets for TV productions are getting bigger and bigger. Now it makes sense for the TV producers to invest in their premium series as much money as Hollywood studios do with their aspiring blockbusters.

3. The high quality of TV productions also is a result of rising competition. A lot of US and foreign channels are wrestling now for viewers. With the help of Netflix & series like "Breaking Bad" and " Homeland" are rivaling  U.S. and foreign productions like "Rectify" (Sundance Channel), "Game of Thrones" (HBO) and "The Fall" (BBC). 

4. Technological progress is also helping TV producers as it helps everyone.  Digital post production especially is reducing production costs and gives the producers more possibilities to realize their ideas.

Rising TV quality is also owed to a general human attribute: The capability and the will to learn with the aim to get better, the foundation of general evolution. Just like everybody, TV producers are learning from older productions, from their competitors and their own mistakes.

I am looking forward to the future and the TV series to come.

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