There was once a meeting at the TV station where we talked about the changing way people view our product. This was more than three years ago, the prehistoric age of online viewing, and one mid-level manager blurted out, “Hell, my favorite show is 30 Rock. I’ve never watched a single episode on our station, just on Hulu and NBC.com!”
This was another one of those times when that mid-level manager should have kept his mouth shut, a practice he never adequately learned, and one that might have helped him advance his career.
Which brings us to Mad Men. For some reason I never watched the AMC hit, despite its reputation as one of televison’s best shows — until I recently discovered it on Netflix. Now I’ve covered something like 60 episodes in less than a month.
It was the same with Breaking Bad, another incredible show that I’d never seen — and for weeks it was all I watched.
Much of this viewing has been done on the iPad — on my phone, even — at unconventional times and now and then in unusual places. Yes, in the bathroom. I know you’re wondering.
Watching online isn’t just about catching up; my favorite new show is The Americans — and I haven’t seen it when it was originally airing on FX.
It’s true that some shows are so compelling or popular that fans can’t wait to see what happens next and tune in for their first broadcast, but the age of appointment viewing is on life support. I’m not sure what this will mean for network affiliates and cable channels; some will figure it out, and others will fail.