Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Nobody loves an orphan technology

And the loneliest orphan of them all is over-the-air television. It's the kind of story you would expect to find in a Lemony Snicket novel, complete with evil guardian trying to kill it off to get to the family estate (bandwidth).

OTA television has few friends. Cable and broadband get all the attention while the media has been committed to the death of broadcasting/networks for more than three decades now.

Of course, one of the problems with being committed to a narrative is that it forces you to ignore the details that don't support the narrative and these have an unfortunate way of being the interesting ones.

Case in point: this story on the growth of Univision, though a bit credulous ("Univision set to become top U.S. broadcast network"), contains some impressive statistics about the growth of the network. It does not, however, contain any mention of this:

Univision is concerned because nearly 28% of Hispanic households — and 43% of homes where Spanish is the primary language — watch TV only via over-the-air transmissions, according to a 2005 National Association of Broadcasters report to the FCC.

Given that Univision skews toward the Spanish-language only households, that means a big chunk of its audience is coming in over the air. That means that selling off that part of the spectrum would have big consequences for the fast growing area of Spanish language media. That's an awfully important detail to leave out.


  1. Media seems to love the death-of-x story. Have you seen:

    They love it because we love it, of course. It's a naturally interesting story formula. These days I'm suspicious of anything interesting.

  2. tk,

    Thanks for the comment but I do have one quibble. Formula stories are easy and people do read them but I'd argue that the REALLY interesting parts often get left out because they don't fit the narrative.