February 13, 2013 4:47pm PT by Tim Goodman
Of Men, Failure, Money, Panicky Executives, Zombies and Spies …
Everything we know we learned from television:
* It's not like I have real concerns that Netflix would be lying, mostly because I think House of Cards got enough ink to generate a lot of streaming. However, it's pretty great to be in the position to say, hypothetically for those of you not keen on fake quotes: "It's the most-streamed show in history. We are the rulers of the online empire! What? No, you can't see the numbers. But trust us, we just totally revolutionized television. No more questions!"
* It's easy to chuckle at the notion that NBCUniversal is going to turn the G4 cable channel into the Esquire Network -- why is this man laughing?! -- because what the world needs now is another channel for men. But the truly snort-worthy part of this announcement is that NBCUniversal has the time and resources to spend reimagining a channel when, hell, I don't know, there might be more pressing concerns elsewhere. See, there's this network that has peacock feathers in the logo and …
* Raise your hand if you're missing 30 Rock already?
* Why the Esquire Network? Why not Cat Fancy?
* Still gutted by the fact that the BBC has decided there won't be a third season of The Hour.
* It must be strange for network executives -- hell, the whole slowly evolving old-school television industry -- trying to adjust to the new ratings world. In the early 2000s, when the networks' percentage of total viewers slipped for the first time under that of cable, there seemed to be this after-the-fact sense of, "How did that happen?" And in recent years, as network viewership has declined and shows with numbers so low they'd have been canceled after the first episode years ago are now considered hits, there still seems to be a mystery about cable. How can their shows be beating ours? We're paying more money for ours! We're showing more episodes than they are! We have three times as many series! Niche cable shows are beating network shows. The erosion is alarming. And with The Walking Dead kicking everybody's ass, you'd have to ask yourself who would want to run a broadcast network these days. Or, more important: How come the broadcast nets haven't come up with a solution to their implosion? I mean, you can create as many Esquire Network models as you'd like, but it's NBC that's in need of the freshest paint and brightest and most revolutionary ideas, yes?
Meanwhile, the anvil has fallen from the skies on this whole DVR debate. Yes, time-shifting is dominating the industry. Yes, it makes a difference (The Americans on FX up 58 percent in C3?). And yes, ratings now will have to reflect Live+Same Day, C3, L7, streams, purchases, etc. This crazy new world with its Hulus and Netflixes and DirecTVs. Old-world exec: "Find out what the kids are watching on those Nooks!"
Yes, the revolution was televised, but it was then time-shifted in favor of a Here Comes Honey Boo Boo Christmas special in February (sigh).
It's a little late for networks to be coming to terms with why people are not watching when they're "supposed to." They could have tracked and reacted to this change in the past five years. It's easy: Too many choices. That 500-channel cable universe cliche is closer to reality than not. It's a bigger pool, but it's much more shallow. That's why we DVR. That's why the industry is already too late to the revolution. It hasn't changed its method of operation in any significant way, other than offering shows free online before they air, which is a road that only leads to ruin.
* Still waiting for The War Channel. I'm telling you, that's the future.
* Couldn't call it unexpected: The Jeff Probst Daytime Talk Show That Should Never Have Been is officially canceled.
* Kristin Cavallari now says MTV producers "forced me to be a bitch." That's adorable.
* What's going to happen when Walking Dead surpasses 20 million viewers? Network execs jumping out windows? Nah, probably 20 zombie shows. Which will be fine, because by then there ought to be about eight former Walking Dead showrunners looking for work.
* In case you haven't noticed, Jimmy Kimmel is the king of late night. If you're not watching his show -- or recording it and time-shifting it until later -- you are so far out of the zeitgeist loop that you've circled back and bumped heads with yourself.
* Good to know Rex Reed is alive. I had no idea.
* Bring me the head of Esky.
* The High Fives: 1. Girls. 2. The Americans. 3. Justified. 4. Not reading comments about Girls episodes. 5. Cat Fancy.