Monday, December 28, 2009

The decade in television: Cable, the Internet become players

For TV, it was a decade of Lost and found.
At the broadcast networks, which saw their overall numbers drop by around 8 million viewers, it was 10 years of ratings decline. Yet if those viewers were lost to broadcast, they were found by cable — and what those viewers found was an ever-expanding range of choice.

But don't cry for broadcast yet. They may be smaller fish, but they're still by far the biggest in the electronic pond. (Even in this decade of dispersion, 52.5 million people watched NBC's 2004 Friends finale, a number unlikely to ever be matched by a cable series.) And the upside to smaller ratings: Lower expectations allow shows to thrive that would never have survived back when every series had to be a blockbuster.

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