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The future of TV in 'The Office'

NBC executives were naturally elated to learn that "The Office" has often been listed as the top video downloaded on iTunes. So much so, in fact, that they bestowed it the highest honor in network television: the coveted Thursday night slot. "That's like the network telling people it's important to them and part of the whole history of comedy," executive producer Ben Silverman told the Hollywood Reporter.


It also illustrates exactly why the TV industry . The network deserves praise for experimenting with downloadable programming, but the dire importance it attaches to time slots is a clear indication that TV executives still don't get it.

NBC, like other networks, thinks that changing air times is hugely important to the success of a show. So it moved "The Office" to what it considers its prime viewing night, next to another of its favorites, "My Name is Earl"--which represents yet another obsolete premise, that people will watch consecutive shows simply because they air back to back on the same channel. (Note to networks: Look into something called a remote.)

The truth is that time slots are increasingly irrelevant to viewers, who can either download shows or record them on TiVo, then watch them whenever they want. In fact, the very notion of "prime time" has been changing radically for years; one would think that some of this would have sunk into the TV network mentality by now.

Blog community response:

"I found out that The Office was available via iTunes. Whaddaya know...iTunes just recently added Paypal as a payment option. So I transferred money from some stranger via another stranger to a third stranger...and was watching my beautiful episode in a few minutes."
--Tales of an Indy Game Developer

"I'm totally convinced that normal television broadcasting as we know it is handing in the towel. In today's television world, the major broadcasting companies make about 1/20 of a cent for each viewer watching their specific program. Now due to Apple's iTunes, people are willing to pay 2 bucks to keep a video."
--e's Ventilation Terminal

"As the field matures, weÂ’ll see a mix of pricing which will discriminate among customersÂ’ tastes for immediacy, location, viewing screen size, and whole number of factors. Ad-supported will likely emerge as the predominant driver of revenue, but the mix among the pricing models will change over time as technology and tastes change evolve."
--Genuine VC