My good friend and general pulp bastard (mad, of course) Bill Cunningham, linked to the video below on his blog the other day. By sheer coincidence I happened across a blog post by the man speaking in that video, Clay Shirky, which happens to be a loose transcription of that speech. I urge you all to read it or watch the video because it speaks to our desired industry, television, in a way that may help you understand the current sea change in entertainment.
The ways people find to spend their time are changing. This blog is an example. Multi-player video games. Interactive web content. Social networks, like Facebook, Yelp, MySpace, YouTube, Twitter, Pownce, Jaiku, Orkut (just google "social network" and look at all the links).
Television is taking up less of people's time, something that has become very apparent as people watch what they want when they want, and not when programmers put it on the airwaves.
From the blog post/video, which really, you should read or watch right after you finish reading this post:
So how big is that surplus? So if you take Wikipedia as a kind of unit, all of Wikipedia, the whole project--every page, every edit, every talk page, every line of code, in every language that Wikipedia exists in--that represents something like the cumulation of 100 million hours of human thought. I worked this out with Martin Wattenberg at IBM; it's a back-of-the-envelope calculation, but it's the right order of magnitude, about 100 million hours of thought.Seriously people, if you aren't fully plugged in to the new world, you are missing the boat.
And television watching? Two hundred billion hours, in the U.S. alone, every year. Put another way, now that we have a unit, that's 2,000 Wikipedia projects a year spent watching television. Or put still another way, in the U.S., we spend 100 million hours every weekend, just watching the ads. This is a pretty big surplus. People asking, "Where do they find the time?" when they're looking at things like Wikipedia don't understand how tiny that entire project is, as a carve-out of this asset that's finally being dragged into what Tim calls an architecture of participation.