Why Being a TV Producer Today Is Harder Than Ever

 

Being a television producer these days isn’t easy. With the continuing consolidation of the media landscape, there are fewer and fewer of these coveted job openings. Producers turn ideas into reality, but the reality of being a producer is less than glamorous. In our ongoing efforts to educate and entertain, producers endure a myriad of multitasking responsibilities, intensive work hours, strict deadlines, sometimes difficult talent and coworkers, as well generally stressful work environments. We are creative problem solvers, but how do we creatively solve the problem of how to navigate our career with what is happening in the media industry?
We’re in the midst of an extraordinary era of media transition, with television programming, viewing habits, advertising sales, and distribution models in a state of flux. Television networks can’t just survive with their linear programming anymore; they need to create “over the top” (OTT) and social media content through a strong online presence through websites, online apps, YouTube channels, and social media, in order to engage their audience who are starting to migrate towards less expensive digital providers.
The following have negatively affected producers’ livelihoods in the past few years:
• Fake News
Leading up to the 2016 Presidential election, media consumers have been subjected to the rise of fake news stories, mostly shared through social media to create “clickbait” leads to websites where they are published. Google and Facebook attempted to clamp down on this phenomenon that’s posing a threat to serious journalism.
According to a 2016 study published in the New Media & Society Journal, some writers file stories where facts mingle with truths and half-truths and untruths to create what they call facticious informational blends (FIBs). There’s also the rise of opinion journalism stated as fact (see: Fox News)
Misinformation can be very difficult to correct, even when news outlets repudiate fake news stories. The situation has been worsened by President Donald Trump, who is known to have referred to genuine news (that he happens to disagree with) as ‘fake news’. Because of his administration’s constant verbal and Twitter attacks against FAKE NEWS, many people no longer trust the mainstream media.
• Skyrocketing Sports Rights Fees
The costs for networks to purchase live sports rights has skyrocketed in the last few years. Many say there’s a bubble that has yet to burst, since most major sports rights are already secured until 2021. Sports now constitute about 40% of programming costs paid by cable/satellite tv providers. However, passing these costs on to consumers by raising their monthly bills has resulted in a fall in the number of subscribers for most sports channels. In 2016, ESPN lost more than 7 million subscribers while FS1 subscriber base diminished by about 1 million. As a result of affiliate revenue plummeting, sports channels are being forced to reduce their costs of operation
ESPN went through three rounds of layoffs in two years.
caused Fox Sport 1 and ESPN cut hundreds of jobs in the last few years. Sports channels have also been forced to streamline their digital and TV news operations with FS1 cutting down on travel for reporters and event coverage.. With most rights fees are largely set for the next decade, production and salary costs are the largest budget items that can be trimmed…hence, the reason for the mass layoffs.
• Explosion of New Media
Today’s broadcast television industry is seeing the stiffest competition from the successful rise of digital outlets such as Amazon, Netflix, YouTube and Hulu, who have created a revolution in direct to consumer technology and content. Millenials started the trend of cutting the cord with their tv providers in favor of streaming their preferred programming ala carte and on the go. However that decision wasn’t solely driven by a younger generation who consumed media differently, but also by the fact that they gave less income to spend on monthly TV/internet/phone/streaming bills. Viewers no longer have to wait for prime time to enjoy their favorite movies, sitcoms, and series. They can also bingewatch an entire series over the course of one day or several days. All one requires is a subscription to any of these content providers and they can watch what you want anywhere you want. I watched the Wimbledon women’s final from an airport last July as I was waiting for my flight to take off.
Which leads us to a new age of…
• Vertical Integration
You thought the age of media monopolies were over? Wrong. Bigger media companies are buying smaller ones at record rates in an effort to monetize . In 2015 AT&T acquired DirecTV AT&T lost 1 million customers who decided to “cut the cord” or change providers last year. Right now, the government listening to AT&T lay out its case why the communications company needs to merge with Time Warner (remember when they bought AOL?!) Time Warner’s HBO is something AT&T is eager to add to its content roster. The judge hearing the case is the same one who approved Comcast’s acquisition of NBC Universal in 2011.
• Explosion of New Media
Today’s broadcast television industry is seeing the stiffest competition from the successful rise of digital outlets such as Amazon, Netflix, YouTube and Hulu, who have created a revolution in direct to consumer technology and content. Millenials started the trend of cutting the cord with their tv providers in favor of streaming their preferred programming ala carte and on the go. However that decision wasn’t solely driven by a younger generation who consumed media differently, but also by the fact that they gave less income to spend on monthly TV/internet/phone/streaming bills. Viewers no longer have to wait for prime time to enjoy their favorite movies, sitcoms, and series. They can also bingewatch an entire series over the course of one day or several days. All one requires is a subscription to any of these content providers and they can watch what you want anywhere you want. I was thrilled to be able to watch the Wimbledon women’s final on my iPad from an airport last July as I was waiting for my flight to take off.

Many mid-career producers are deciding to leave the business entirely. I have two male colleagues who moved over the executive public relations roles, and two female colleagues who decided they could make more money and enjoy a higher quality of life by selling high priced real estate. Reach out and tell me how YOU are navigating your producing career in the current environment.

  • By: Cloverhill
  • On: March 26, 2018
  • In: Uncategorized
  • Comments: 0 Comment

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