Although, we don't have grand Roman structures, and rustic Victorian castles, America can still be noted for its recent contributions to art, pop culture and media. In the past century, American brands have swept all around the world, collecting the dust of old from other nations to build new franchises, and among some of the most well-known of the mighty brands that have done this belong to mass media moguls. Disney, Viacom, Time Warner, and others, such as the “big three networks” have all had a great impact on the growing and now dominate information industry. I say this because I was surprised to find out recently that, according to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, the old, or legacy, media empire built up from the 20s to the 90s, was beginning to erode, and quite rapidly. Today, I seek to answer questions I was asking myself, specifically the two presented in the title: Is this the fall of old media, or its rebirth? Follow along with me as I try to unearth the mysteries of this problem, and come up with the solution.
I first heard this start to spread in internet comment systems with people pretty boldly stating that the fall of TV is at hand. To a certain degree this may be true, but in other ways it's very wrong. As any good researcher should do, I started broad, and then got narrower, so I began my search here: (government labor stats). according to all the statistics presented, legacy mass media services, such as published books, newspapers, broadcasted television, and feature films began to decline rapidly in the early 2000’s, while the internet industry began to rapidly rise in the late 90s. The graph, also, seems to show a greatly increasing number of laid-off workers by legacy media companies.
This is pretty vague to us, considering our question is if traditional media is falling or not, so we’ll need to look deeper. As of right now, the statistics we have checked out seem to show that our questions answer could be yes, which is sad. I’m sure I’m not the only one out there who grew up watching cartoons on TV, reading new books as they came out, and listening to the radio. Say, maybe we should check that out next. How much of each type of media each person consumes on the average basis. If you looked at all the charts from the previous site, you'll notice that near the end it gives some insight into consumption on the forms of media, but according to them, TV still dominates all other categories. Where are these drastic trends as predicted by those internet commenters? Well, those could be because the stats I showed you are from 2011. In terms of a grand scale, that’s not very far back, but perhaps we should look for some newer data. Remember how I mentioned some big players in media earlier? Why don't we take a look at their stock prices? That's sure to have some insight on this matter. Surely the popularity of the various kinds of media is reflected onto the market.
As our research hits a middle ground, let's get a little more specific by looking up some stock quotes. NASDAQ, (link), based in the US, is a good place to look, but you could also try any other stock quote site and should get a similar, if not, same answer. Now of course, these numbers are subject to change, but right now, let's look at the prices for a television company, radio company, newspaper, and internet company, to get a broad spectrum of results. For this, we'll use some popular media companies at the time of this Editorial. The News Corp, a major publishing company, owner of the Wall Street Journal, Iheartmedia Inc., owner of 800 or so radio stations, including iheartradio, Comcast Corporation, recent owner of NBC, one of the “big three networks” mentioned before, and Alphabet Inc., owner of the Google search engine. The current prices of these stocks doesn’t matter, rather the trends are what is most important.
For the past five years, it looks like News Corp has been slowly falling. Iheartmedia is falling rapidly, as well. Comcast it looks like, peaked at 2001, then declined… but wait! In the last two years, its prices nearly quadrupled. After cross checking to see if this was just a new trend with this one company, I found that Time Warner, Disney, 21st Century Fox, and Viacom, well not exactly the same, all experienced similar rises. Alphabet is also rising and right now is very valuable. Comcast stocks right now, are $55 (USD), while Alphabet clocks in at about $743. So the business stocks are all what, according to the world (apparently), described would happen. However, I’m still curious as to why television is doing so good right now. If we are to trust the public's collective opinion on what these companies are worth, then there's something going on behind the curtain. Why is it that radio and newspaper are falling so fast and yet, even though TV peaked in the late 90s, it's had a second revival?
After looking around at all the arguments on the internet, to get some insight on the subject, I began to notice (although quite rarely), that the following subject was occasionally brought up: Is new media just old media 2.0. That got me to thinking about my own life. Now, I’m not very young, but I didn't gather in the living room to listen to the radio and watch father read his newspaper, but I still somehow managed to pick up on these habits as I have gotten older. When I wake up in the morning, I read the news, and I listen to my favorite music, but I do it online. If I miss my favorite show… I watch it online, and I’m betting I’m not the only one. Suddenly, as I realized this, it started to make sense. A major internet television provider, Netflix’s stocks were worthless back when broadcast TV was all the rage, but since they moved down a few rungs, Netflix has begun to rise at an alarming, almost exponential rate. Some other online media companies I checked out, such as Amazon, also experience some similar rises.
What does this all mean? It's a bit hard to interpret. According to the data, it appears TV is on the rise, right along with the internet, even though it seems everything else is failing. Could this be perhaps, because we're still in the golden age of television? Technically, the so called golden age is marked by a rise in hit shows, and actually, now more than ever, there are hundreds of hits, after hits. With on demand services on the rise, and platforms such as YouTube creating hundreds of millions of hours of content monthly, everyone thought this would be the end. However, now that there's no traditional broadcasting restrictions placed on the producers, they can attract much larger audiences. It's debatable about how long the now called, “peak TV”, will last, or if it can sustain itself for a long time, but there's no denying the massive influx of content upon us? (Clink here for more) information on Peak TV and the subject matter. Now you could watch a new American series a day and still not get threw them all.
Thanks for reading everyone! Do you think I answered the question well enough? If you have any questions, comments or want to contribute, let me know and please keep them constructive. If you have an idea for a new topic I could cover, please leave it in the comment section, as well.
More Articles about Peak TV, (Variety) and (LA Times) can be found via their links.
The Schafer Web-Log
Articles, Reviews, Futurism, Current Events, and More!