Television is not getting worse and it's not losing viewers

TV Arts

Mason
Myth #1 -- People are watching less t.v.

According to Nielsen, television viewing per person in the US has increase 
in a steady linear fashion since the early 50's.

http://tvbythenumbers.com/2007/10/18/overall-tv-viewing-flattens-primetime-declines

I do think that Nielsen way overstates the number of hours people watch t.v. 
per day, but I'm hoping that they have been using the same method all along, 
so that at least it's valid as a comparison.

Myth #2 -- The drop in network ratings is due to bad content.

This doesn't seem correct to me, either by my own experience or by what I 
know of facts and logical conclusions.

Let me say, I like and even love a lot of old television shows.  But 
overall, television has always sucked.  It is basically a stupid, 
lowest-common-denominator mass medium.  Good shows are uncommon now but no 
more so than in the past.

The difference is that today, you get to choose from 20 shows instead of 3. 
Of course the network ratings have dropped.  The audience that used to be 
captive now has the alternative of watching something more narrowly 
targeted.

And if you are really divergent from mass taste, you get to choose from 100 
shows.  Hell I include myself among this crowd -- I'll watch "It's Me or the 
Dog" instead of "Brothers and Sisters".

I look back at the crap I used to watch on television and cringe.

The predominance of network television was an artificial construct.  There 
were two main reasons, that I can think of, for all those 20+ rated shows. 
First, it was the only show in town (or actually, in the living room). 
Second, there was *much* wider acceptance of a common, national set of mores 
and assumptions about how life was lived.  There was also much more of a 
consensus about what was proper to be broadcast over the airwaves.
                                            
WQ