Sunday, February 10, 2008

Now, will viewers go on strike?

After the 1994 baseball season was interrupted by a strike, I learned an important lesson: I could live without baseball. When the players went away for 232 days, I went away from the sport, too. It might have been a coincidence that I got married the day after the strike started, but it was a pretty significant end of an era. Prior to August 12, 1994, baseball played a central role in how I spent my discretionary time. But since the game returned on April 2, 1995, it's gotten an increasingly smaller share of my attention. The strike wasn't the only reason, of course--the glacial pace of the game, some disenchantment with the steroids controversy, and my move from baseball-besotted Boston to comparatively indifferent Indiana all contributed, too. But the strike certainly didn't help.

Now, as the writers' strike appears to be coming to an end, some are rightfully questioning whether TV is entering a new era much like the one baseball entered after the 1994 players' strike. My take is that TV will remain king of all media in at least the short term, but it's not as powerful today as it was on November 4, 2007--and it will never again be as powerful. The strike isn't by any means the sole cause of this downturn, but it's another chink in the medium's armor. Today's viewers have too many other options, and some who tuned out may not be quick to tune back in.

There is, of course, a common denominator that links the baseball strike and the writers' strike: the Internet. Back in 1994, for example, I had just started an AOL membership that had me spending more time sending e-mail than watching baseball. Did TV viewers make a similar shift to the web? It's been years since I've watched much TV, but I'd be interested in hearing whether it affected your viewing habits. So what say you, SBB reader? Will the writers' strike change how you spend your discretionary time--in the short run or in the long run?

Photo credit: Replysixty on Wikipedia

No comments: