The future of television comes down to one word: More
When I headed to Los Angeles for the twice-annual TV Critics press tour, my bosses sent me West with a simple question:
What's the future of television?
After nearly two weeks of quizzing producers, big name stars, industry executives and my fellow critics, I found the answer in a single word.
More series. More channels, More outlets. More stars. More deals. More material. More fees. More quality. And more banality.
FX president John Landgraf told me he worried that cable channels like his were making too many original series -- in a year where FX would unveil new shows starring Russell Brand, W. Kamau Bell and Charlie Sheen -- working under a business model which would never allow them to offer the level of original programming a broadcast network presents.
Friends alum Lisa Kudrow celebrated the way her series Web Therapy rose from a cheeky experiment online -- self-obsessed therapist fails to help patients by counseling them over Skype -- to a series on Showtime which earned an Emmy nomination this year. She still talks about the show like she's pulled a fast one on the TV industry.
"I'm the last person in the world who can complain about giving up money for my art," said Kudrow at a party thrown by CBS for stars on its network and Showtime, referring to the Friends cast vaunted $1 million-per-episode salary back in the day. "But you give up a lot of control for that money...I can't believe we've gotten away with this."
CBS CEO Les Moonves crowed about his company's limited online strategy, boasting that CBS.com sees as much activity as the online video outlet co-owned by rival networks, Hulu. "This way, we control our destiny," he told me, later noting "don't mess with the motherlode."
The fact is between cable channels amping up their original output and online platforms such as Hulu, YouTube and Netflix also presenting original programming, TV fans have more choices than ever for their increasingly limited attention spans.
In Sunday's Latitudes, I turned all this into a sprawling feature story looking at some of the new online offerings out there, including thoughts from CSI creator Anthony Zuicker, Kudrow, Jennifer Beals, and more.
Could more be too much? In a world where Breaking Bad, Longmire, The Newsroom, Hell on Wheels, the Summer Olympics and Political Animals all air on the same night, can anyone keep up? Even with DVRs, on demand options, smartphones, iPads and wi fi connections which sometimes seem hardwired into our brains?
Check out the story and let me know what you think below.
My money says this deluge of programming is changing us in ways we haven't begun to realize.