short answer, some of us don’t arrive home after a hard day’s work and have sex with a cable box. It’s been referred to as an idiot box from day one and adding more channel options (at the user’s expense) doesn’t improve on it’s utility value.
But the value of the network is - as a production company you have to sell to one customer, the network, rather than make a road trip and sell to a hundred customers. There are (were?) syndicated TV shows for years, but there are not that many of them. Plus, the economies of scale kick in. Being able to follow a top-rated show gives a new show a bit of a boost and more exposure.
The network pays “compensation” to the local station for using the station’s airtime. Compensation rates are full of mystery, so it doesn’t necessary hold that market A gets x times more money than market B just because A is x times larger than B. Obviously big stations get more, but sometimes it’s not proportionate.
The amount of money a local station gets from a network is a fraction of what it could theoretically get from selling all local commercials, so there’s a tension between the two. If the local stations had their way, they’d dump the lowest-rated network programs and replace it with their own junk. If the networks had their way, they’d charge the local stations for those high-quality programs that get much higher ratings than the local junk ever would.
We don’t have cable at my place stateside–just Internet. Why pay an additional $30 for crap, when everything we want to watch is either on NetFlix, or over-the-air broadcast? IMHO, yhe cable providers have things rigged to the point that its prohibitively expensive (charging 1980s pricing) for the content, yet still charge for ‘premium’ channels. I’ve heard they still claim the capital costs of building infrastructure, but come on, that infrastructure has been around for 30 years. We just don’t need cable. “All bullsh*t, all the time.”
Now overseas, I’m stuck with it–the free version. AFN grabs the most popular programming (under licensing) and hosts it on six channels over cable. I don’t watch it that often, 'cause I’ve got the Internet.
In both places, though, I will stumble ass over teakettle to grab your remote and turn it to Antiques Roadshows when it comes on. PBS has some awesome shows.
Of course, they could get a LOT more money if they only broadcast commercials. Oh, wait, nobody would watch.
that’s the trade-off; you get a selection of expensive-to-make, well-marketed shows which (supposedly) people want to watch, and so you also attract viewers that might stick around for your other local shows. In comparing over-the-air broadcasts, it used to be typical that independent stations would attract fewer viewers than network stations. After all, the syndicated shows were the ones that even TV network execs did not think were worth watching.
Limited to about 70 miles. And as a result there is no over the air television available in many places (including where I live) that used to be able to receive at least the three major networks over VHF.
Wait, so did the conversion to digital help you, or make it worse? I was under the impression that the digital broadcasting reduced bandwidth, allowing stations to broadcast a little stronger (or at least clean up the electronic clutter w/other side stations).
It used to be possible to pickup up over the air broadcasts with a rooftop antenna. That went bye-bye with the conversion to digital. It is no longer possible to receive over the air television at all here. I’d say that’s worse.
The issue, as I understand it, is that a weak analog signal (such as you would get if you’re trying to receive a signal from a distant city) would still be readable / usable, if fuzzy or shadowy. Digital TV signals, OTOH, are all-or-nothing – once the signal strength drops below a certain level, you get nothing.
What this has meant for people in rural areas is that the distant TV stations which they were able to watch in analog days can’t be viewed with a digital signal at all.
Not even necessarily rural (unless you mean Hollywood rural, where anything under a million is considered a small town.) There are a lot of small cities that are more than 70 miles from the nearest station.
Next up - do new car dealers pay full price for the units on their lots, or do the manufacturers discount (heavily) to get the foot traffic. A small town Chevy dealer is not going to be moving the top-of-the-line 'vette real often - but GM still wants the high-schoolers drooling and dreaming.
The point is that there is a significant portion of the country for which over the air broadcast is no longer provided. And in seven years there has been no movement to restore it. For over 40 years this area was able to receive broadcasts from four different cities with a good outdoor antenna. Now we get nothing without cable or satellite.