We live in a golden age of television. Never before have we had so much quality programming, or so many different ways to view it while sitting on the toilet. However, the things we like so much about the current state of television are actually strangling our favorite shows to death like Christoph Waltz in Inglourious Basterds.
#4. Our Favorite Shows Get Terrible Ratings Because We Don't Watch Them When They Air
The business model that drives the creation of the shows we like is fairly straightforward: A network pays to make a show, and then we pay them back by watching the commercials attached to the show. It's basic, but it's an arrangement that's worked since your grandparents bought their first TV with the meager wages they earned after working impossible hours at the steel mill. So why do demonstrably popular shows like 30 Rock and Community struggle so hard?
Because they're demonstrably popular only in our elitist echo chamber?
It turns out that, although we may love a certain show and watch every episode, we aren't watching it quick enough. Whereas your grandparents had no choice but to watch a show right when it aired or else never see it ever again (keep in mind that reruns used to not be a thing), our DVR-spoiled asses are watching programs days or weeks after their original run. Ad revenues are only calculated from the first three days of views, so once that three-day period has passed, you might as well not even watch the show, as far as the networks are concerned.
Shows geared toward (comparatively) younger viewers like 30 Rock and Community eat up valuable prime-time real estate, and although they have a devoted core audience, that audience is most likely going to watch the episodes later on DVR or on the Internet through services like Hulu, where ad revenue is slashed. It's gotten so bad that NBC is now backing off of making quirky, narrow-interest comedies altogether and hedging their bets on bland, formulaic sitcoms with prerecorded laughter.
And these new, broader comedies have all been smashing successes.
CBS doesn't have that problem -- their average viewers are so old, they fart mummy dust as they happily watch their favorite shows (complete with commercials) the night they air. So we need to either learn to watch our favorite shows while they're actually on television or resign ourselves to an inevitable future of a Big Bang Theory/CSI mashup.
#3. Our Love of Irony Is Killing Syfy
Five years ago, the Sci-Fi Channel took a gamble on the idea that Twitter and Facebook were going to convince young people to watch their terrible programming. They rebranded as Syfy and started feeding us films like Sharknado, which were specifically designed to be shared with ironic incredulity on social media. It seemed to work for a while, and since it was our best chance at eventually seeing Thrillosaurus Rex: Time-Traveling Dinosaur Detective, we embraced it.
"The best part is when he goes back 100 million years ... to the age of the other dinosaurs!"
However, making those joyously terrible movies is actually causing Syfy to implode. You see, even though movies like Sharknado and Ghost Shark draw a decent number of viewers and become trending topics across the Internet when they air, nobody is watching the channel in between those movies. Ever since Syfy rebranded itself and eschewed its traditional sci-fi programming, it began to hemorrhage all of the sci-fi fans who watched the network in the first place. Without those fans to keep the network afloat between releases of Crabquake and Testicular Rhino Dragon, Syfy is struggling to sustain itself.