March 3, 2006


Channels bloom, and viewers pick: On average, homes receive 96 stations but watch far fewer, a study finds. (Lynn Smith, March 2, 2006, LA Times)

IN the early '90s, according to Bruce Springsteen, there were "57 channels (and nothin' on)." Now, according to Nielsen Media Research, there are 96 channels in the average U.S. home. And though they may have plenty on, the average person watches only 15 of them.

NESN, C-SPAN, PBS, and Fox News seems ample.

TV May Be Free but Not That Free: As downloads increase, executives have to figure out how to convince people it's stealing. (Dawn C. Chmielewski and Meg James, March 1, 2006, LA Times)

Amanda Palmer hardly fits the profile of an Internet outlaw, but her obsession with the ABC show "Lost" makes this self-described "bubbly, nutty mum" the television industry's worst nightmare.

Like thousands of other British fans, the 30-year-old personal assistant can't bear to wait the nine months it can take for new "Lost" shows to air in England. So, soon after the closing credits roll in America, she downloads each episode off file-sharing networks.

And most alarming to TV industry executives, Palmer admits not a twinge of guilt.

"It's TV, isn't it?" she said. "It would probably be different if it was a movie. If it is free on everybody's TV, why worry about it?"

The $60-billion TV industry has a simple answer to Palmer's question: because the future of free TV may depend on it.

Posted by Orrin Judd at March 3, 2006 7:46 AM
NESN, C-SPAN, PBS, and Fox News seems ample.
Hardly. Not one of those is watched in our house. The correct set is Nick, NickJr., Disney, Cartoon Network, Noggin, and HGTV. Posted by: Annoying Old Guy at March 3, 2006 8:30 AM

"It's TV, isn't it?" she said. "It would probably be different if it was a movie. If it is free on everybody's TV, why worry about it?"

Yeah, every show I download is eventually shown a few months later on my multi-channel viewing package soI'm feeling pretty qualm-free too.

Posted by: Ali Choudhury at March 3, 2006 9:02 AM

Though one can't ignore the intellectual property aspects of the Networks worries, one feels little sympathy for their inability to shift business models.

Posted by: Bruno at March 3, 2006 9:11 AM

The main advantage the networks have had over the years is the budgets avilable to order up shows with high production values, as compared to independent stations or other sources outside the U.S. But when you look at the low-budget stuff that the nets have been filling the airwaves with lately, it's not as if any loss in revenues is going to ruin the production values of "Fear Factor" or "Skating with Celebrities". As for the podcast threat to overseas rights, that's simply a matter of cutting the lag time between when the show airs in the U.S. and when it shows up in places like England.

Posted by: John at March 3, 2006 10:01 AM

NESN, C-SPAN, PBS, and Fox News seems ample.

C-SPAN is the most boring network ever created. PBS is second. Fox News is less watchable than the Weather Channel.

And I don't know what NESN is.

Posted by: Brandon at March 3, 2006 10:46 AM

Brandon, PBS for the most part is good for the little ones. It is much better than Nick; however, Nick Jr. is quality stuff. C-Span is good for Book TV and some of the non-Congressional stuff. It is great for election coverage. The thing I don't like is caller stuff like Morning Journal. C-Span callers are absolute nutjobs (mostly left-wingers).

AOG, Nick is terrible. It has morphed into the tween-marketing/attitude channel. As I mentioned, Nick Jr. has some very quality material.

Posted by: pchuck at March 3, 2006 11:32 AM

Infidel! C-Span can get dull during a quorum call but it also can be the most entertaining thing out there especially when Fat Teddy is grandstanding. I don't watch any of the big news channels, preferring to get my news beamed in to my skull through my fillings. NESN is the New England Sports Network, your source for watching the Bruins suck.
I like watching the French language documentaries early Sunday mornings on History Channel International. Hey, who knew that the French gallantly let the US liberate Paris? Damn nice of them to help bolster our national confidence like that.

Posted by: Bryan at March 3, 2006 11:38 AM

Not just US->overseas, but overseas->US. I noticed the other day that "Sci-Fi Channel' is advertising they are going to be showing the new "Dr.Who", which if I remember correctly, was being shown over a year ago on the CBC. The idea that content will be released on different schedules in different areas, and people not know or care or get around it is part of the thinking that's getting these Net execs into the trouble they are in.

Posted by: Raoul Ortega at March 3, 2006 12:14 PM


There's still a few good shows there (Fairly Odd Parents, Jimmy Neutron, Kim Possible). We use the PVR to capture them and thereby skip the garbage.

Don't make me give up The Ron Factor! (And Rufus - he's my small hairless rodent type dude).

Posted by: Annoying Old Guy at March 3, 2006 1:24 PM

We use the PVR to capture them and thereby skip the garbage.

Wise use of technology, good for you.

Posted by: pchuck at March 3, 2006 1:27 PM

NESN, C-SPAN, PBS, and Fox News seems ample. History Channel, every ESPN channel, Fox Sports, and EWTN.

Posted by: Matt Murphy at March 3, 2006 3:00 PM

Food Channel and Golf Channel. Nobody needs anything else.

Posted by: sam at March 3, 2006 3:40 PM

I'd nominate TCM, the History Channel, and the Military Channel.

I might watch C-SPAN if I knew what the heck they were going to show. Too bad the print and electronic listing are always generic: "Book Events: The spotlight shines on various book-related events, including public readings by various authors." Gee, thanks for the tip!

Posted by: PapayaSF at March 3, 2006 4:13 PM

sam, but what about "Walker, Texas Ranger"? Can't go to sleep until Cordell's wiped out all the bad guys within a 50 mile radius.

To quote Woody Allen, "If only life was like that."

Posted by: erp at March 3, 2006 7:14 PM

Chuck Norris sleeps with a nightlight on.

Not because he's afraid of the dark, but because the dark is afraid of him.

Posted by: Noam Chomsky at March 4, 2006 10:23 PM