Anyhow, there’s a tremendous amount of choice going on, which is a good thing. But that cultural unity of being able to talk about what happened on the last episode of “Gilligan’s Island” sort of disappears. And when I look at the programming blocks, it’s like a whole bunch of marathons… I used to like watching “Income Property” on HGTV, but I haven’t seen an episode in years, when it just fell off the map and made way for “Property Brothers”, which was cool, but was way over-exposed. I used to like watching the History Channel, even when it was very WWII-heavy, but every time I’ve stopped by, it’s been the Aliens Channel. I used to like watching the Travel Channel, when they talked about travel, but now it’s evenly split between ooo-is-it-haunted and shows recycled from the Food Network. (I don’t even think the Food Network has more than two shows.) I used to think the Discovery Channel was cool, but then I wasted about two hours on a fake documentary about prehistoric sharks, and I haven’t touched it since. I used to like Cartoon Network, but it’s either the Teen Titans channel or a bunch of homegrown animations with ugly art.
Instead of going off the air for the night, they keep the programming running around the clock. But they only pay attention to cultivating a few hours’ worth of it in prime time and making it interesting. The rest is filler. And it feels like filler. And if I wanted filler, I’d still be watching Naruto Shippuden, which didn’t get aired on American tv until 2014, about six years after I gave up on them getting to the point. If there’s a movie I want to watch, I’m likely to own it these days, not have to wait to see when it airs, and then try to tape it on VHS. But life is too full to stop what I’m doing and pay attention to the tv for 30-60 minutes on a certain night every week, like I used to back when I was a kid.
But we’re used to custom everything these days, and that includes our entertainment. And it makes it much easier for us to say, “There’s a thousand things on, and nothing worth watching.”