10/10/10 Thought Experiment: 10 Ways TV Would Be Different If the Internet Never Existed
by Ryan McKee, posted Oct 10th 2010 1:35PM
Today is 10/10/10, a date that means many different things to many different people. We're going to latch onto two elements of the date for a little thought experiment for a meta-TV thought experiment: its decidedly post-apocalyptic feel, and its striking resemblance to binary code. These two factors, combined with many caffeine-fueled conversations with our web geek buds at Urlesque, got us to pondering this question: How would TV be different today is the Internet never existed? (Urlesque will be exploring this concept in great detail tomorrow, so be sure to check that out.)
It's clear that the Internet has changed TV in a multitude of ways. With so much creative content on the Internet now, TV's audience numbers have taken a hit. It's part of the reason that network budgets have decreased, giving executives constant heartburn and causing some of them to focus content on this audience.
Some say the Internet is improving TV. The competition forces networks to work harder. Cyberspace is a great breeding ground for new talent and a platform for proven talent to present quirky concepts. Websites like Hulu allow viewers to catch shows they've missed and message boards let millions of fans interact. It also gives fans a place to congregate the day after and discuss and analyze their favorite shows.
We can't un-invent the Internet, so we can't fully fathom if TV would be better or worse today without it. We do know the following ten things would not have happened. You can decide on your own whether that's good or bad.
1. '$#*! My Dad Says' and 'Quarterlife' Never Happen
Do you remember that last show? Be glad if you don't. These programs are perfect examples of networks pandering to Internet audiences. '&@!*# My Dad Says' is a hilarious Twitter account, but that doesn't mean it should be a TV show.
2. 'Glee' Never Beats The Beatles' Billboard Record
The soundtrack of covers by the cast of a musical TV show beats the sales of the most iconic rock band in history. Even a couple years ago that seemed unfathomable. However, with 'Glee's' online presence and the convenience of buying music on sites like iTunes, The Fab Four didn't stand a chance against cute teens singing Lady Gaga.
3. 'Lost' Never Sees Season Three
The complicated storylines of 'Lost' would have lost most viewers if they didn't have the help of Internet theories. Since the show cost ABC so much money to make, the network would not have continued making it if they didn't see the strength of 'Lost's' online fanaticism.
4. Much of Joss Whedon's Work Is Never Seen
'Buffy the Vampire Slayer' creator Whedon is one of TV's most prolific and unique talents. However, some of his best work is overlooked by the mainstream at first. His rabid Internet following is the reason we have the 'Firefly' movie 'Serenity,' season two of 'Dollhouse' and 'Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog.'
5. Betty White Never Hosts 'Saturday Night Live'
Delightful White would still be popping up in funny cameos and commercials, but without Facebook she never hosts 'SNL' at 88 years old and experiences one of the hottest years of her sixty-year career. Not even the biggest fan has the organization to start a letter campaign on par with a Facebook group.
6. Nickelodeon Never Unleashes Fred
WTF is Fred Figglehorn anyway?
7. 'SNL' Never Regains Relevancy
Without the Internet, The Lonely Island guys never start producing viral videos. That means Lorne Michaels never discovers their talent in 2005, which means 'Lazy Sunday' doesn't get produced, thereby creating the show's Digital Shorts and viral skits the show is beloved for now.
8. We Never See This Bill O'Reilly Clip
9. Shows Rarely Beat Cancellation
'Family Guy' was resurrected by the popularity of its reruns on Adult Swim and DVD sales. However, that almost never happens. 'Jericho,' 'Veronica Mars,' 'Arrested Development,' 'Friday Night Lights,' and 'Roswell' had longer lives due to their Internet fanbase. If we had the Internet sooner, what other shows may have gone longer? 'The Ben Stiller Show'? 'Mr. Show'? 'Freaks and Geeks'? 'My So-Called Life'?
10. We Get Surprised By Guest Stars
When was the last time a TV show surprised you with a big guest star? You can't remember because you knew before it happened. With nine million "spoiler alerts," "casting scoops," "exclusives," etc. online, it's impossible to avoid blowing surprises.