Cable TV is reminding me more and more of the real life towns like Radiator Springs, in the movie Cars, was based on.
Thriving towns cropped up on byways to serve weary travelers set free to roam and explore in their new automobiles. Those travelers needed a place to stay the night, eat, be entertained, fuel up and often times, get their car fixed.
But, as autos became less expensive and more numerous, they also became more reliable, faster and could cover greater distances.
Interstate highways replaced byways a mile down the road, and towns like Radiator Springs shriveled to shells of their former selves, caught between bustle and ghost town, as a generation or two of folks with a special fondness for the town didn’t want to move on.
When flipping channels on Cable TV, I feel I’m visiting one of those towns.
I get it. The interstate highway in entertainment is the long tail. Apps and the plethora of devices that we all have now serve that long tail by giving enough audience to niche shows to watch whenever they want, to make those profitable, while amassing enough users in total by creating lots of niche shows.
TV networks are still trying to maximize eyeballs for a given time slot, which means trying to put more content out with broader appeal.
But, now in comparison to the content that you really like, the more bland, broad appeal content is like stopping at the old roadside attractions in towns like Radiator Springs. In the days of 50 mph car travel, with no A/C or in-car entertainment, those were welcome diversions.
The TV networks are now a mile off the interstate and just not worth getting off the highway for a stop. Things change.