Or everyone could just read the original blastr article
which clears up a lot of stubborn misinformation about whether Neilsens are accurate (as far as anyone knows, they are), whether networks have it in for sci fi in particular (nope, TV is just a tough biz) and whether online viewing matters worth a damn (not yet, that's for sure).
The trend is definitely towards free TV being marooned with only the broadest-reach content, with CBS' lineup being the poster child for that approach. Sci fi will migrate to various sorts of paid models, of which there are two successful ones: basic and premium cable, which vary basically according to how much money goes to produce the shows. Getting consumers to pony up enough money to matter, for still other pay schemes, will be difficult. Isn't one cable bill enough?
I think online TV will never be successful until the content creators realize they have to do something that people can't get from their basic and premium cable subscriptions, which will motivate them to add to, or even replace, their current cable fee.
What is that additional thing? Interactivity and socializing. Maybe not interactivity in storytelling, since that easily becomes an unwieldy mess, but the kind of interactivity and socializing you might see right here at TrekBBS, but linked more definitively with the program content.
TV will evolve into something in between the current format of storytelling on the one hand and games on the other. You already see the inklings of this with American Idol
, where input from viewers influences the results. There will be ways to adapt that idea to a fictional setting, as games already do.
Maybe the way to do this is to work backwards from the result. What would the ultimate Star Trek
entertainment experience be like? Easy: a holosuite story where TrekBBS denizens inhabit avatars that allow them to be Spock, Seven, a Klingon, a tribble or whatever floats their boat. This would need to have more structure than just an open-ended playground, but not be so structured that it's just another video game with one path to "winning."
So, starting from now, what's the next step along the path to that utopian endpoint? Here's one step:
Animation on a cable network is probably the only way Star Trek returns to TV for the forseeable future.
The Clone Wars
has convinced me that animated Star Trek
could be viable. And CGI animation will be what creates those Spock and Seven avatars we will be donning one day, so let's get the ball rolling now with a traditional-narrative animated series, which eventually spans both traditional TV delivery and online delivery mediums (with TV migrating to be indistinguishable from online).
And at that point, link the main traditional-narrative series up with game-type audience participation by creating short-run games that spin off of story points from the main series. Make these games low-entry-barrier so that the non-gamers who will make up the bulk of the audience will participate. (There can also be more heavy duty stuff for gamers, in the usual styles, like hand-to-hand combat and flight simulator). And of course there will be plenty of social interaction areas, linked to both the traditional narrative and the games.
From that point, it's all just a question of how fast the technology advances and making the audience comfortable with new styles of interacting with content. The traditional-narrative style will never completely vanish, but it may become a smaller and smaller part of the overall entertainment experience, which will span a much broader range of things, from people creating their own gaming mods to exchanging recipes for making bloodwine and Romulan ale.
Anyway, Paramount and CBS are probably too locked into their hidebound mindsets to really become innovative and create a revolution in the entertainment experience. I hate to say it, but Star Wars
is more likely to be leading the charge. They're already more aggressive in games and other spinoffs, and they run bumper ads during TCW
touting new online games that viewers can play.
The games have no apparent link to episode content, but that would be so damn easy. "You think Obi-Wan and Anakin really blew this week's fight with Dooku? Log onto www.starwars.com
and show us how you'd do better!"
MAN! Why aren't they already doing that?
Anyway, I'm getting sick of talking about hulu and streaming. Those are small potatoes. Let's think much much bigger.