Cultural Changes In Attitude Toward TV

A CBS survey of 700 people in the U.S. with Internet and television connections last year found that 28% said they're watching more television than they did a year ago. Seventeen percent say they're watching less, with the remainder indicating their habits are unchanged. That may not seem like much, but there's a long history of people saying they are watching, or plan to watch, less TV — even as Nielsen measurements proved the opposite is true.
The Associated Press,

NEW YORK (AP) -- Manjula Stokes has twice sworn off television, once throwing a set off her deck in a fit over an ex-husband's sports obsession. Now she's a devotee of programs like "Downton Abbey," `'Mad Men," `'Survivor" and "Masters of Sex."

The teacher from Santa Cruz, California, illustrates a subtle change in society's attitude toward television. The medium is growing in stature, propelled by both art and technology. More worthy programs are available at a time when viewers are becoming more comfortable setting up their own schedules to watch.

Story continues after the ad

"I feel it's more like reading a good book," Stokes said. "The acting is better, the direction is better. I think it's more serious as an art form."

A CBS survey of 700 people in the U.S. with Internet and television connections last year found that 28 percent said they're watching more television than they did a year ago. Seventeen percent say they're watching less, with the remainder indicating their habits are unchanged.

That may not seem like much, but there's a long history of people saying they are watching, or plan to watch, less TV - even as Nielsen measurements proved the opposite is true.

In other words, liking television is becoming more socially acceptable.

Brand Connections

"You can go to a sophisticated party in New York City now and people will be talking about television programming, not the latest art film or the latest play," said David Poltrack, CBS' veteran chief researcher. "You can go to a bar in a lower socio-economic neighborhood and they'll be talking about television. They may be talking about different programs, but they'll be talking about television."

Now, for every award-winning drama there's a series about botched plastic surgeries, naked dating or Kardashians. More than one, truthfully. But the push among cable networks during the past decade to make their own original series has significantly increased the amount of quality programs.

For years, polls uncovered a certain shameful attitude toward watching television.

When asked in 2000 how much time they spent watching TV the previous day, 84 percent of respondents told the Pew Research Center it was less than four hours. That didn't jibe with the Nielsen company's finding that the average American that year watched four hours, 15 minutes of television a day.

A Gallup poll in 1990 found 49 percent of people said they spent too much time watching television. Only 19 percent said they watched too little. Nine years ago when CBS began its annual survey, more people said they were cutting back on TV time.

This year, Nielsen estimates the average American watches four hours, 50 minutes of TV a day.

"I think the quality is better," said Yael Chanoff, a 25-year-old writer from San Francisco. She's a fan of smart comedies like NBC's "Parks & Recreation." Many older shows Chanoff has seen, even hits like "Friends," strike her as cliche-ridden.

Some better shows now have an attention to detail that reminds Stokes, who is 59, of work done by the MGM movie studio during the last century.

Cory Phare, a 33-year-old academic conference director from Denver, said he grew up watching a lot of television but drifted away. The ability to binge on well-written dramas like "Breaking Bad," `'The Americans" and "Dexter" through Netflix drew him back in. He just finished going back to watch the entire run of "The West Wing."

"Even when I'm on a lunch break, I pull it up on my smartphone," he said.

That's another key to television's resurgence. Viewers no longer depend on prime-time schedules set up in Hollywood boardrooms; they don't even have to depend on television. Stokes, Chanoff and Phare all consider themselves fans of modern-day TV, and none of them have cable or satellite subscriptions.

"My friends all watch it on computer," Chanoff said. She finds a friend with cable to watch "Parks & Recreation," the only show she cares to watch live.

The days of needing to choose between two good programs airing at the same time are now gone. The downside for networks is that it's harder for less-established shows to catch on because some nights more people are watching DVR playbacks than any individual show on a network.

That's a problem for another day. The first priority is getting people interested in what television has to offer.

"Really, television is now more than ever at the center of culture," Poltrack said.

Tags

Comments (1) -

RustbeltAlumnus2 Nickname posted over 2 years ago
Delayed viewing is ad-free. That can't be good for TV.
Marketshare Blog Playout Blog

Twitter

TVNewsCheck

Ratings

Overnights, adults 18-49 for September 28, 2016
  • 1.
    2.8/10
  • 2.
    1.9/7
  • 3.
    1.7/6
  • 4.
    1.4/5
  • 5.
    0.6/2
  • 6.
    0.4/1
Source: Nielsen

Reviews

  • Rob Owen

    Easily fall’s best broadcast network comedy pilot, NBC’s The Good Place offers a clever high-concept premise that’s complemented with intelligent, sometimes absurdist humor. Created by Michael Schur, co-creator of NBC’s Parks and Recreation, The Good Place is a highly serialized series that’s essentially set in heaven and stars Kristen Bell and Ted Danson. NBC made five episodes of The Good Place available for review, and the show not only holds up, but also it improves, deepening characters that initially feel one-note and frequently leaving viewers guessing with cliffhanger endings to many of the episodes. The combination of snappy dialogue and winning but flawed characters makes The Good Place a great bet for fans of smart TV comedy.

  • Maureen Ryan

    Pitch has swagger, for good reason. It gets the big things right; the Fox drama about the first female baseball player in the Major Leagues is one of the year’s most assured and exciting debuts. But part of what impresses about the pilot is also the way it confidently strings together so many small but telling details. Ginny (Kylie Bunbury) is the first woman to be called up from the minors to the big leagues, and no show since Friday Night Lights has done a better job of portraying the internal and external pressures that weigh heavily on young athletes asked to do much more than merely succeed on the field. Pitch will likely do a good job of getting viewers to root for it. The hope is that the show won’t be an impressive, short-lived curiosity, but rather a long-term phenomenon.

  • Kevin Fallon

    In a fall TV season that’s already making a splash for championing diverse, distinctive voices in an array of projects that they created, wrote, and starred in, Better Things on FX stands out. The show is created by, written by, and starsPamela Adlon. She plays Sam Fox, the single mother of three daughters modeled after her own reality-show-ready experience raising three girls in Los Angeles following a divorce. Sam is also, like Adlon, a working actress — on shows both raunchy, a la Californication, and animated for children, like her role on Recess. It’s a refreshingly blunt take on single motherhood without sacrificing the warmth of parental love, portraying the dance between selfishness and selflessness that’s at the heart of being a parent — especially one weathering the hormonal fireworks of a household of four women at different ages.

  • David Wiegand

    The fall TV season doesn’t count as much as it used to — we already know that. But no matter how many retreads the broadcast networks throw at viewers in the next few months, this fall will be memorable because of the premiere of Atlanta on Tuesday, Sept. 6, on FX. The half-hour comedy created by and starring Donald Glover (Community), simply and brilliantly recalibrates our expectations of what a TV comedy is and how black lives are portrayed on the medium.

  • Louisa Ada Seltzer

    The second reboot of the 1980s John Candy movie Uncle Buck, bumped by ABC from midseason, has the same tired jokes you'll find on any second-rate sitcom. Too bad, because Mike Epps is appealing and ABC would be wise to keep him around for future shows, but there’s just not enough to this show to suggest it will last past summer. It also airs against NBC’s America’s Got Talent, summer’s No. 1 program on broadcast, which may make it even harder to find an audience.

  • Neil Genzlinger

    Bryan Cranston brings his Tony Award-winning interpretation of President Lyndon B. Johnson to television in an adaptation of the Robert Schenkkan play All the Way, and it’s still quite a sight to behold, just as it was on Broadway in 2014. Nothing beats witnessing this kind of larger-than-life portrayal onstage, of course. But the television version, presented by HBO, offers plenty of rewards, allowing Cranston to work the close-ups and liberating him from the confines of a theater set. Cranston’s performance is a gem — in his hands, this accidental president comes across as an amazing bundle of contradictions, someone who seems at once too vulgar for the job and just right for it.

This advertisement will close automatically in  second(s). You will see this ad no more than once a day. Skip ad