Saturday, August 04, 2012

A Made for TV Blog Post

Last year, 1.29 billion movie tickets were sold in America.  That is an incomprehensibly high number, but I'm pretty sure an even higher and more incomprehensible number would be the final tally of how many movies were watched on television last year.  Google can tell us a lot, but I gave up in my efforts to find that statistic.  When you can't find something on Google, that means that nobody really cares.  Certainly, there are people with vested interests in how any individual television movie might fare in the Nielson ratings, but nobody talks about the "television movie industry" like they do the "Hollywood motion picture" industry.  Even when Nielson ratings are released, nobody pays attention to movie returns the way that some pay attention to weekly box office grosses.  And yet--measured by time spent viewing, one can make the case that television movies are more popular than theatrical releases.

The obvious counterargument is that such a measure is ridiculous, that a person's willingness to part with their money should be the means by which we determine popularity.  And there are other metrics in play as well--what trends on Twitter, what the media covers, what launches more tie-in products and what contributes the most to the economy.

But my counterargument to that counterargument is that we constantly undervalue time spent.  Time is something that nobody can make more of, that can only be spent and never created, and that cannot be retrieved after having been invested.  Likewise, all hours are equal.  There is no such thing as a premium hour.  The two hours that somebody chooses to invest in watching an Lifetime original movie is the same as the two hours that somebody chooses to invest in watching a major summer blockbuster or an Academy Award best picture nominee.

Of course, the television movie market is more diluted.  There is more product and less of a marketing emphasis on any one movie.  I'm not suggesting that it would be possible for the culture to acknowledge original television films the way that it does theatrical films (interviewing TV movie stars at press junkets, reviewing them on Rotten Tomatoes, etc...)  What I am suggesting is that we quit having it both ways.  We either acknowledge that television movies are inferior and quit investing our entertainment time budget in them.  Or we acknowledge that they have merit and quit acting as if they are mere placeholders in our life.

We can start by keeping better stats on how we, as a society, are investing our hours-- not just our dollars.


Post a Comment

<< Home