After releasing my first blogging article I received some less-than-stellar reviews citing that I "managed to write a blog post that hypes up your proposed solution to "hacking" TV...then don't even have a solution" and that "this must be one of the most content-free blog posts I've read recently". Obviously, for a first time writer, this isn't what I was hoping for and I'm looking to correct these problems so that future posting will be better.
- Where is my writing lacking in meat? I liked my introduction but I'm inclined to agree that my writing slacks off as the article goes on. Another user mentioned that he/she "can't seem to find more meat than what's already stated in the title".
- The general consensus seems to be that my argument for removing commercials from television is weak and uninteresting. What would make my defense better?
- Should sayings such as "OK. I know what you're thinking." be avoided? Perhaps they are a bit lame or cliche?
EDIT: Here's an updated version:
The date is July 1. The year? 1941. As fathers and sons sit down in front of their televisions and prepare to watch a baseball game between the Brooklyn Dodgers and the Philadelphia Phillies, they unknowingly witness history in the making. For 10 seconds, the New York station WNBT displays a clock covering a map of the United States, along with the words “America runs on Bulova time.” They don’t know it now, but the watch making company Bulova has started a dastardly trend that will continue for at least the next 70 years. Commercials are television cancer. The life of the TV viewing lazy-bones would be better off without commercials, yet Mr. Couch Potato continues to accept the reality of commercials without question.
After reading about why we should build a future without cars, I began thinking about other norms that need to be disrupted. Television seemed like such an obvious choice. Who actually likes commercials? Not only are they incredibly obnoxious (That Was Easy™), they are also huge timesinks.
OK, I know what you’re thinking. Watching television is probably the most efficient way to waste your time. There are certainly arguments to support this; watching TV requires no mental processes or physical exertion and most television shows don’t teach the viewer anything. But consider this: for every 30 minutes of television you watch, you’re watching approximately 8 minutes of commercials. For hour-long shows the time spent watching commercials increased to 18 minutes. That means that ¼ to ⅓ of time spent watching TV is all commercials. Now consider all of the things you could do with the time you spend watching commercials for products that you care nothing about. For every movie watched, you could have read another chapter of your book, mowed your lawn, or spent an extra half hour with your family.
Disrupting the Television Industry
Now, I’m going to throw something out there that might seem kind of crazy, but just stick with me. Let’s disrupt the television industry by getting rid of all commercials. There, it’s out in the open now. I’ll wait while you take a moment to tell all of your friends not to read Maniacal Science because it’s blasphemous propaganda written by a maniacal (yes, I just did that) nut case.
If you think about it though, it’s really not such a farfetched idea at all. Commercials are justified by television networks that need to make money. What better way to make money companies pay for the right to have their product shoved down viewers’ throats? This must have proved to be an effective model, otherwise it wouldn’t have lasted as long as it has.
Netflix, Grooveshark, and Youtube. Oh my!
One possible solution is a move to more on-demand type programming. Services like Netflix have already jumped on top of this, but $8/mn isn’t enough to satisfy TV networks. They need way more money than that to operate.
For those of you who use Grooveshark, YouTube and Hulu, you’ve probably noticed that advertisements will pop up every so often and you’ll have to watch 10 seconds of the advertisement before you’re given the option to close it. This isn’t nearly as frustrating as being forced to watch the entire advertisement and I’ve actually caught myself watching the entire length of some of the more interesting ones. This is another thing to consider: maybe it’s not that commercials are annoying by nature, but that most commercials are boring and the annoyance stems from being made to watch non-interesting material.
The reason that companies like YouTube can function for free, without bombarding users with ads could have something to do with the fact that the ads are more effective. Not only are they placed using complex algorithms, it is also reasonable to believe that the user will pay more attention to the ad. The advertisements are short and they aren’t being shoved down the user’s throat. The difference here is that YouTube ads are served based on the number of videos you watch, not the length of the videos. That means you view 10 minute videos and only have to sit through a single 30 second advertisement.
Perhaps a shift to more on-demand programming, supplemented with advertisements a la Grooveshark and Youtube is a solution to this problem. Viewers will save large amounts of time and marketing teams will be happy that viewers are paying more attention to their ads, ultimately resulting in larger revenues for TV networks.
Inventing For The Future
Recently I’ve noticed an influx of people calling for disruptions of huge industries. Where most people consider Facebook to be important (and it is, in some aspects), there are others who believe that it’s time to get past Facebook and invent for the future. What these people all agree on is that there are certain tried-and-true methods that have run their course and are no longer as effective as they once were. These methods need to be hacked. I believe that television commercials fall into this category.
Sure, television is a waste of time. Personally, I try not to watch too much. Luckily I enjoy being outside, so that’s really not a problem for me, but I digress. Like it or not, tens of millions of people around the world spend well over 3 hours a day in front of their TVs. The preferred solution would be to get rid of TV all together, but I think the couch potatoes out there might get upset at the thought. Instead, we need to work towards alternative solutions that save time.
The bottom line is that TV is broken and we need to fix it. Commercials make up 18 minutes out of every hour of television and we are all too busy to allow this to continue. My hope is that the right person will see this article and step up to the plate. The idea has been presented, but we all know that ideas are worthless. If anyone has any thoughts on other ways to disrupt television, I’d be glad to hear them.