If a television station falls in the forest…


A bit of a head’s up here, I’m not going to name names.

I don’t think they’re truly important for this effort. The essay is about the overall, and somewhat generic, transitions our television habits are experiencing right now. From what we watch, the broadcast networks and stations and providers airing the shows, to how we order it and what we watch it on, the landscape is shifting. Specific example? NBC at 8pm is different than mature programming at HBO. We get that idea. Expanding on it in just one way, the ability to get multiple feeds of the same channel numbs the concept of primetime in many cases. Along a separate path, televisions, computer monitors and phone screens are in play.

You know this stuff. You know there are other considerations. You, personally, have approaches and comforts and challenges and solutions of your own. The way we receive and view and interpret information and entertainment is the same and different for everyone.

The end result, for an essay discussing whether or not a channel is being carried by a certain provider, is that it doesn’t matter in certain elements such as which network is negotiating with which provider. Chances are good we can find the channel, or at least the shows, if we are willing to look.

So, for the most part, no naming of names.

Here we go…

I haven’t had the Fox network on my television for about a month now. My provider is involved in negotiations with a company that owns two of the local stations, with the channel for Fox being one of them. And I’ve noticed a few things…

One – I might not be a regular Fox viewer. Not that I ever considered myself one to begin with. Though it’s not that I don’t watch the programming on the network. Instead, with my provider not providing it, I discovered I only have three shows broadcast by Fox set up to be recorded on a regular basis.

Two – Streaming options for networks are funny things. Turns out, Hulu carries all three of those Fox shows I do record, and offers them pretty much the day after the scheduled first airing on Fox. Other networks, say CBS, might not allow me the same accessibility to the shows. The combination of Fox and Hulu does in this case. But to the general thought, other scenarios have similar ideas. Just a matter of having the right options available.

Three – There are very few shows recorded and stored away that I view the day they were broadcast. Back to the Fox idea I’ve been presenting so far, that means that every show I’ve missed by my provider not offering Fox has been a show that I was able to watch roughly 24-hours later anyway.

There’s more, but you probably see the idea here, just from these three points: Fox isn’t my main viewing option… Fox shows are on Hulu… I haven’t been delayed in seeing any shows from Fox.

There’s another contract negotiation that is apparently also taking place between my provider and a network these days. This one actually involves a company that owns and operates a larger group of networks. Something like two dozen or so different channels are in danger of interruption and/or removal from my provider.

I’m not going to go into the ins and outs of such negotiations. It’s not important for me to think about which of their channels I do watch and which I don’t. Nor is it important whether or not any of the channels individually have more or less value than any of the others in the package. As with our other moments in this essay, these are valid concepts, but not really where we’re headed right now. Instead…

When I heard about those negotiations, I thought about my current situation with Fox and Hulu. And, a bit more specifically, I thought about Fox and Hulu and the packaging of stations based on my own viewing needs.

We could be talking about any of a number of stations/networks/services. Netflix and TV Land and CBS and Animal Planet and HBO and FX and on and on. If you watch Game of Thrones you probably feel very strongly about one of those options. If you watch Fargo you might feel strongly about a different option. Ditto for The Big Bang Theory. Some stations matter to you. Others not as much.

There’s a show from Australia called Rosehaven. I like it. Terry likes it. The third season began its run in January of 2019. In the United States, Sundance got its distribution rights and we jumped on when season one began showing. I have zero idea how it performed, but the scheduling of it got moved around a bit, and it felt like the way Sundance treated it shifted significantly between season one and two. We had concerns about whether or not they would show season 3 (and so far, to my knowledge, they haven’t). Terry and I have been busy with a few other things, but we both believe that once we do look for it again, we’ll find it. Sundance or not, we’ll find it.

The trick is, what’s important to you may or may not be important to me. (About the only thing we can all agree on, nationwide, is that none of us are watching ESPN. Which is a funny joke, based on truth, but more importantly leads me to the summary…)

On two stations right now, I have soothing music playing with a message telling me not to call because my provider is aware it is unavailable and is working to restore it. On those other stations where I have read media reports that negotiations are unsettled but moving along, an occasional post appears letting me know I could lose that channel soon. Funny thing though…

When I read one article about the contracts being worked on, I also saw a note about how some stations went off the air about seven years ago, which evidently was when the last contract between network and service provider was negotiated. And, you’re going to laugh (because I said it was a funny thing), I didn’t remember that those stations weren’t available for about a week in 2014. I couldn’t recall looking for them at any time and not finding them.

My guess is, if a station goes off the air for whatever reason, including some powerplay negotiations-are-ongoing move, and you don’t notice the soothing music and static message in place for about a week then it really doesn’t matter. Get enough people together where it matters to none of them, and a network has a problem.

Which circles back to that ESPN joke of mine. Because ESPN should worry, but not panic. At least they’re not MTV. People may not be watching EPSN. The majority of people don’t even know MTV is still on the air.


If you have any comments or questions, please e-mail me at Bob@inmybackpack.com