Daily Archives: January 18, 2010

LENO vs CONAN vs NBC vs BBC vs ME

It’s interesting to see the late-night TV kerfuffle going on here in the USA right now. I remember when I used to watch late night TV talk shows back before I had kids. It was a moderately amusing and pleasant way to end the day. But that’s about it. But here in the USA The Tonight Show is considered to be an “institution”. Which I always found odd. “It’s just a bloody talk show!” was always my opinion. But if the culture deems it so then who am I to argue? I am similarly puzzled by the insistence that Saturday Night Live is anything other than a dog-tired and chronically unfunny mess that should have died sometime in the early 80s. But again I am in the minority. SNL is an INSTITUTION!

Another example of this is the importance attached here to news anchors. In other cultures they’re just blandly attractive muppets who can read a teleprompter and speak nicely. In this country newsreaders have, or had, or someone thinks they have/had an importance I could never fathom. I think it dates back to the Murrow/Cronkite days. When people felt they had to trust the guy reading the news for some reason.

Either way, the net/net of it all is that TV has/had a cultural heft here it doesn’t have in other cultures. Possibly because America is a comparatively more rootless society. And TV shows functioned to some extent like friends and family. So killing cherished TV shows is taken a lot more seriously here. Like euthanizing a family member, as bizarre as that sounds.

Much has been written about the demise of TV. And it resoundingly is not happening. If anything the quality of TV shows has improved dramatically as the industry reacted to the threats of DVRs, the internet, netflix, video on demand etc.

A few years ago I read somewhere that we would end up with a google-like system where we could watch whatever we wanted whenever we wanted. From a consumer POV this makes the most sense. It’s what we all want. To be able to pull up any show or event up and watch it in our own time with no interruption. Whether or not the TV networks can figure a way to make money out of it is immaterial. It’s what I want. And if they (the content producers) don’t figure out how to do it someone else will. Actually someone else has. Several people already have in fact.

Yesterday on Twitter I was lamenting the fact that I couldn’t watch UK snooker over here in the US when someone shot me a link to a thing called Justin.tv where lo and behold I COULD watch BBC2’s live coverage of the UK Masters from the comfort of my own laptop. You see BBC doesn’t allow viewers from outside the UK to view their content online. Not sure why. But I would gladly have paid to watch it. Alas that option is not available. So I was forced to “pirate” their content via someone who was prepared to give me what I wanted.

This was what I wanted to watch btw. Great game. Thank you Justin.tv. thank you twitter follower. And oh yeah, thank you BBC2 for filming this.