(The Engagement Lab supports the following: Chrome 57+ (70+ on mobile), Firefox 53+, Safari 10+, Edge 16+, iOS 10.3+.)
Network television ratings continue to decline year after year. The World Series hit its peak in the late 1970s, with nearly 50 percent of households with TVs watching it. In 2008, it was down to a miniscule 14 percent. This year saw primetime’s lowest ratings ever. Streaming companies like Netflix and Amazon have changed TV and the entertainment business in innumerable ways, particularly since Netflix started to air its own original programming in 2013. Almost all of the focus on this upheaval has been on the well-off viewers’ first-world problem of too many good shows to watch, or the corporate gamesmanship between the tech giants who seek to usurp the other in delivering the world its entertainment. Left out of the conversation are the workers whose livelihoods are being upended in the process, and the economic reality of the everyday viewer who can no longer afford to watch television.
Dr. Jane Shattuc has taught at the University of Vermont and University of Wisconsin-Madison, and was a fellow at Bonn Universität, Bonn, Germany. Dr. Shattuc is the author of Television, Tabloids, Tears: Fassbinder and Popular Culture (University of Minnesota Press) and The Talking Cure: Television Talk Shows and Women (Routledge Press) and the editor of Hop on Pop: The Politics and Pleasures of Popular Cultures (Duke University Press) Her most recent book is The American TV Industry (co-authored with Michael Curtin, British Film Institute).