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Families That Changed TV

By its broad reach into America’s living rooms, TV has the power to change our perceptions of the world. And in some cases, TV changed our world, either by Kennedy’s telegenic appearance in the 1960 presidential debates affecting the outcome of that election, or by watching Neil ArmstrongLucy-and-ricky take his first steps on the moon.

In a more light-hearted way the portrayal of TV families has changed over time. Leave it to Beaver was squeaky-clean in its portrayal of a “typical” American family where mom stayed home taking care of kids and the house and dad went off to work. Even I Love Lucy was edgy for its time, as Ricky Ricardo was Cuban and neither the Ricardos nor Fred and Ethel (their neighbors) had children. After the tumultous changes of the 1960s, TV branched out into showing different types of families, such as black families, single parent families, and even gay families.

Screen Shot 2014-03-25 at 10.51.02 AMAll in the Family, a sitcom about a family was a perfect foil for the political tensions of the early 1970s. Archie Bunker, a blue collar, conservative workingman, cannot understand the changing world, especially the ultra-liberal beliefs and politics of his hippie-ish daughter and son-in-law who are living with him. That scenario was flipped in the 1980s with Family Ties. Michael J. Fox played Alex Keaton, the conservative Reagan supporting teenager who baffles his ex-hippie, free-loving parents.

The LA Times has put together a fun photo montage of 11 families that changed TV. All but two were on broadcast TV–and some still are–free to anyone with a Mohu HDTV antenna.

 



TV Industry Update

justice-dept.-logoOne of the latest developments in the Time Warner Cable/Comcast merger is that the attorney generals of several states, including Florida and Indiana, will be meeting with the Department of Justice to determine if the proposed merger violates US anti-trust law. The focus of the inquiry is on the broadband service that the combined company would provide. As it stands now, the merger of Comcast and TWC would control about 40% of the US broadband market and 30% of the cable TV market. As the internet grows increasingly important for both homes and businesses the attorney generals are concerned that too much market power would be held by one company, limiting competition and innovation and potentially raising prices.

In addition, Governor Cuomo of New York changed the mandate of the state’s Public Service Commission to give it more regulatory power over media mergers. The burden is now on the media companies to show how a merger is in the best interest of the public. So even if Washington okays the merger, New York may not follow along.
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Channels is a Cord-Cutters “Dream Machine.”

Randy Drawas, Mohu’s Chief Marketing Officer describes Mohu Channels as a cord-cutter’s “dream machine.” And he’s really telling the truth. We just passed $100,000(!) on Kickstarter so we invite you to share this blog with your friends and family so more people can purchase Channels via Kickstarter. We had high hopes for Channels but the response we’ve received has just blown us away.

Screen Shot 2014-03-24 at 9.00.07 AMIf we take a look at the cord-cutting population there are three broad groups of cord-cutters and Channels, available on Kickstarter, has something for each one.

Over-the-air (OTA) only–These are our “Mohuligans.” They cut the cable cord, bought a Mohu antenna and never looked back. These Channels OTAfolks are happy with OTA content and watch their shows and sports on broadcast TV. Channels is the “dream machine” for them because it creates a channel guide for OTA content so no more looking around or channel surfing to find a favorite show. And by the way, we love our Mohuligans because they are the foundation of Mohu.
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Broadcast TV Recruiting Star Talent

Hugh-Laurie-stars-in-Hous-001Broadcast TV is getting its share of brand name talent. As the networks put together their fall season pilots, the producers are looking for star power. According to The Hollywood Reporter, “Broadcasters have finally learned that they have to compete with cable and are getting more edgier and better material — and directors, including Lee Daniels.” This is great news for all the cord-cutters out there. Along with better material comes known talent. Some of the stars directors are looking at for next season are The Closer‘s Kyra Sedgwick, Weeds’ Mary-Louise Parker,  and House‘s Hugh Laurie. Kyra Sedgwick and Mary-Louise Parker both appeared on cable but may be moving over to broadcast, once again demonstrating the power and reach of OTA television.

Even if they don’t sign on for a full series, many stars will be featured in a few episodes, or experiment with more “event” type programming–where they star in a short series, relying on their name power to bring viewers to the series. Hollywood Reporter quotes a talent scout as saying, “Everyone is fair game. TV has become so significant and it’s so much better than film — and there’s more money in TV than in features.”
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Changes in OTA and Cable

Two big news items going on in the world of television are the impending Comcast purchase of Time Warner Cable and Aereo’s court battles.

no-comcast-twc-merger-300x300Comcast is planning to purchase Time Warner Cable for $45 billion pending regulatory approval. The purchase will give the combined company (yet to be named) about a 30% share of the cable TV market and 40% of the broadband market. In a letter to Time Warner consumers, the CEO assures current customers that, “The combined company will innovate faster and deploy even better products and features, including a superior video guide, faster Broadband Internet speeds and even more WiFi access points so you can access the Internet wherever you go.”

On the other hand, many in the media think otherwise. The Washington Post shares several concerns such as the merged company having the power to demand higher retransmission fees from broadcasters which could leave markets with network blackouts. Comcast/TWC will also have the power to raise rates since there is no competition in their markets. At some point, they may increase the number of cord-cutters as monthly rates increase.

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I Cut the Cord and Lived to Tell About It

Modern-FamilytigtlecardToday’s blog is guest written by Michelle, a friend of Sarah’s (Mohu’s usual blogger). Michelle recently cut the cord and is going to tell her story.

We’ve had cable for at least the past ten years. While cleaning out some file cabinets I found some old cable bills. The same service we have today used to cost about $25-$30 less. To put it mildly, I was surprised. I’m currently getting a promotional deal which is $67.75 a month with taxes. Once the deal ends next month, the price for what we have will jump to over $80/month. For television. Ouch.

We definitely watch TV in my house. I’m a big fan of Modern Family because I feel like that’s my life right now and my husband is a big fan of Law and Order: SVU. My kids are pretty limited in their TV viewing and often stream something (approved by me) from Netflix onto a computer or tablet. But $80 a month is $960 a year and I’m pretty sure I could find something else to do with that money.

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OTA Shows That Will Be Renewed (Or Not)

MaY - Miracles are YoursMay probably seems like a long way off.  But, fear not, spring will come and with it, an entire month of excellent over-the-air (OTA) shows that will make cord-cutters very happy. May is “sweeps month” which is when Nielsen uses a sample of households to tally the most popular TV shows. These rankings are vitally important to the networks because they can literally make or break a TV show. Low ranking shows, which attract fewer advertising dollars, often get canceled to make room for new programs that will hopefully perform better. Make sure you watch these shows on your Mohu LeafCurve or Sky.

At Mohu, we make great antennas, but our crystal ball is fuzzy when it comes to predicting the future. The BBThelpful folks at TVLine.com have put together a preliminary guesstimate of which programs will be renewed, which ones are on the chopping block, and which ones are in the middle. It’s safe to say that the most popular shows such as NCIS, Big Bang Theory, and Scandal will be renewed. In fact, Big Bang Theory has been renewed for three more seasons! But other programs, such as Hawaii 5-0 and Mike and Molly could go either way. They will regularly update the list through May, so use that link to check back and see how your favorite shows are doing.

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TV Industry–What’s New

Cosmos_1Several changes are causing disruption in the TV world for over-the air (OTA), cable, and streaming content. Below, we’ll discuss some of the changes.

On Sunday night Fox premiered, Cosmos—A Space Time Odyssey hosted by noted astronomer Neil deGrasse Tyson. It picks up where Carl Sagan’s original Cosmos left off in 1980. The Motley Fool calls the production and airing of Cosmos “event programming” and sees it as a reaction to the ever-shifting landscape of television.

Fox is starting out with Cosmos but has other event programming in the works. As The Motley Fool says about Cosmos, “The success of this type of programming isn’t fully reliant on the usual development cycle. It’s not even necessarily built for the long run. It’s built as a way to test the waters and see how viewers respond. Should it work, executives can start crafting round two, but until proven it’s very much a short-term proposition.” Fox is also using Cosmos to bring new viewers to its network, which is better known for Family Guy and Glee. 

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