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The Upfronts: The Death of TV?
By: Jed Moran
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If you’re unfamiliar with the Upfronts, it’s a weeklong event in NYC where all the major networks in television put on a show for the advertising world, hoping to reap what they can of the more than $60 billion shelled out each year for commercials. It’s no uncommon thing for networks to blow a cool mil for the one-week affair. Like Alan Wurtzel, president of research/media development at NBCUniversal says, “It’s a chance for us to show ourselves at our best because God knows the reality of ratings will set in soon.”
 
But where it used to be just the big four — NBC, ABC, CBS, and Fox — today’s Upfronts compile not only networks and a sea of new cable channels but also online media services like Hulu and YouTube. This is what’s making things interesting; what’s making “TV” take on a new definition. The thing is, no one’s watching TV in the traditional sense anymore. Nowadays, you can watch “television” on your phone, your iPad, your laptop, or God forbid, your actual television. Couple that with sites like Hulu and, of course, DVRs — which are estimated to reside in over 50% of American homes by next year — and it begs the question: just what is “TV” and what is it becoming?
 
According to Glenn A. Britt, chief executive of Time Warner Cable, “Anything with a screen is a TV set.” Britt thinks the new technology of television is simply redefining the medium, not killing it. Okay. So again, it’s more "What is television turning into?" rather than "Is TV dying?" But I’ll be the first to admit: I’m a bit confused between these distinctions. Especially when you add in things like the Dish Network’s newest software, the “Auto Hop” — a nifty little contraption that blanks out the commercials on your favorite shows, begging TV execs like Leslie Moonves to wonder, “How does Charlie Ergen expect me to produce CSI without commercials?”
 
Don’t get me wrong; as a viewer, sure, I could live without commercials. And that’s coming from a guy who makes his living acting and writing in them. But could this lead to throwing out the baby with the bathwater? I mean, how the hell will TV live and thrive without advertising; without old school “commercials?” I’m sure the networks and the ad agencies will adapt. But will it still be TV? Eons ago snakes used to be lizards; they even have little creepy embedded feet to prove it. But if you look at a snake today and call it a lizard, I’ll call your ass crazy.


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About the Author
Jed Moran is "that dude" tryin' to ... "Make it in Hollywood." My hustle 'til I pop like a white Will Smith??? Writing wacky ad/copy for the TV/Film business. Find him online here.
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