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The New New Tube

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This week, as the major networks present their fall schedules to advertisers at upfronts in New York, their industry is exploding on an almost nightly basis. Which makes this a particularly interesting time to be a viewer. Uncertainty is in the air, but suddenly, too, is a spirit of see-what-sticks innovation affecting TV-making on all levels. Thanks to services like Barry Diller’s disruptive (and legally questionable—but hey!) Aereo, fans can watch their favorite shows on any schedule and pretty much any device with a screen. Television content is also getting more freewheeling, frequently for the better (see Happy Endings). Yet despite all the new fragmentation, the experience of watching TV is becoming more communal, as a result of social media, creating real-time back-and-forth discussions with fans that make live viewing fun again. And like Mad Men’s Megan Draper, pulling husband Don into the future by forcing him to listen to the Beatles (backward), the new reality is teaching even old dogs like Charlie Sheen some new tricks—although 100 episodes of Charlie Sheen may not be the future any of us pined for.


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