Is the Television Business Doomed?

Television consumption is changing. The complex set of user behaviors (e.g., watching TV shows when broadcast, sitting through ads, getting the evening news from news programs, watching motion pictures in your home exclusively on a TV screen, etc.) that has supported television since the 1950s is rapidly coming to an end.

In what may be remembered as a watershed June 3rd, 2012 article, the founder of Business Insider, Henry Blodget, presents a strong argument that the television business (as we know it) is doomed.

Mr. Blodget musters statistics and anecdotal evidence to show that - much like the newspaper business - the legacy television business is irreversibly headed toward a crash.

While many aspiring filmmakers - especially those who see the democratization of filmmaking as a good thing - may celebrate the demise of the networks that bought us The Apprentice and Jersey Shore, Mr. Blodget's article is probably not good news for any filmmaker receiving revenue from TV today.

As consumers continue to adapt to the online world and the Old World middlemen lose their control over content delivery, how will filmmaking be monetized?

If traditional TV is doomed, will online subscriptions (to services like Hulu, Netflix and an online version of HBO?) step in to replace the revenue that supports today's network and subscription TV?

Even if there is enough online subscription money to support the next Mad Men or Game of Thrones - what about all the other content on TV? Some critics consider this the Golden Age of television. But how long can quality TV programming survive with consumers fast-forwarding through commercials and cutting the cord to cable subscriptions?

And what about indie filmmakers?

20 years ago, TV deals were the lifeblood of indie film. Now they're exceedingly rare. But some indie filmmakers are still being paid when their work shows up on TV. In the future, will the term "TV deal" become a quaint anachronism? Will "TV deal" soon describe an obsolete way of making money (like record store or video rental shop)? As consumers increasingly look online for their entertainment and information - often bypassing the Old World gatekeepers - how will revenue be generated and collected for indie film?

With the vast amounts of content available today online for little or no cost (with much more free content coming) and traditional television receding as a potential revenue source - how will tomorrow's filmmakers generate the money required to support quality filmmaking?

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Randy Finch's Film Blog:

Thoughts from a film producer about making and distributing films.