Essential Pittsburgh
5:28 pm
Tue May 20, 2014

Do the Major Television Networks Still Matter? TV Writer Rob Owen Says Yes

 David Letterman during an interview on the Late Show in New York City.
David Letterman during an interview on the Late Show in New York City.
Credit Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff / Wikipedia

This week the major television networks each release their respective schedules for the fall, schedules that will include new shows ABC, CBS, and NBC hope will win back their audience.

Given the availability of streaming sites such as Netflix and the quality of content on cable channels, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette’s television writer Rob Owen said the public is tuning in less and less to the major networks. The networks have tried a variety of programming to try and boost sagging ratings, and this year we're seeing major changes in late night TV hosts. And according to Owen, the major networks are still important.  “I do think that that broadcast networks matter because really its all about the content. Even if people aren’t watching on the linear broadcast channel, they are watching it, online, on demand, something like that.”

One program that has consistently boosted ratings for all networks is football. NBC’s Sunday Night Football is almost always at or near the top of the weekly ratings. CBS, which shows NFL games on Sunday afternoon, is looking to push ratings even higher by adding Thursday Night Football.  “It’s a win-win all around for [CBS], in terms of being able to draw viewers in and promote their other programming within the highly rated NFL games,” said Owen. Owen also discussed the changes going on in late night television, namely Stephen Colbert taking David Letterman’s chair on the Late Show and what Letterman’s legacy would be. “He certainly is a pivotal figure both in terms of the television business angle and certainly in terms of the creative aspect and his style of comedy.”