Friday, 8 November 2013

Hollywood Babble On & On #1086: That's Where The Money Is...

Epix is a cable/satellite network owned by a partnership between Viacom/Paramount, MGM, and Lionsgate that was founded in 2009. Epix specializes in showing movies, boxing, and stand-up comedy specials. 

Now just a few years ago people who claimed to be in the know said that "reality TV" was going to be the future. All shows were going to be about celebrities, skanky debutantes, pawn shops, car restoration, and a hundred other topics.

So why is everyone rushing toward scripted programming?

First, experience has proven that while about 5% of reality shows can be whopper hits, like Duck Dynasty, 95% of reality shows are just filler. Even the modestly successful ones are usually watched simply because they're on, and the competition in the 1000 channel universe is pretty thin.

Now add competition.

"Al A Carte" packaging in cable/satellite providers is probably inevitable, and streaming services like Netflix and Amazon means that you need something that will attract subscribers and/or viewers.

Reality programming is not a selling point, quality storytelling is.

Think about it, what's the first thing a child asks for that doesn't involve food or a diaper change?

The little bastards look up at you and say: "Tell me a story."

People love stories, they crave stories, and while interactive material like games are all well and good, there's nothing like a good story well told.

People will pay for good stories, reality TV, not so much.

"But what about movies?" you ask, furrowing your brow in a feeble attempt to understand. "Movies have stories."

True, but there are too many channels and not enough movies those channels are willing to air. Most channels balk at airing black and white movies, because they don't think kids will watch them. So there goes hundreds, if not thousands, of movies that can't get aired outside of Turner Classic Movies.

Then there's the fact that these channels are owned by studios, and they want the films in their libraries being given precedent. Then comes all the other factors that go into scheduling, and most of it is the sort of internal corporate politics & penny-pinching bullshit that ends up putting some less than stellar films on a perpetual loop.

People won't subscribe to movie channels that only show the same cluster of movies into infinity. Especially since so much of Hollywood's recent output can be described as lacklustre at best.

Another case for original scripted programming.

So let's all wish Epix luck. More scripted programming means more work for writers, actors, and directors, and if the shows are good, it's a win for the audience as well.


  1. Sandy Petersen13/11/13 4:03 pm

    Then there is the great mystery of how stations like the Sci Fi channel can spend 10 million on a movie about giant killer gerbils and STILL have it be boring.

  2. SyFy's problem is that they think just being schlocky is all they have to do & forget about working to make it entertaining.