Just thought I would add this link to an article that Andy Dehnart wrote for MSNBC about the dismal, dropping television ratings.
It's his contention that the ratings are dropping for reasons above and beyond the one tossed out most frequently: that "the writers strike sent most viewers packing and they never came back". Instead, the blame is being levelled at fewer quality new shows and the rise of other options (ie. the Internet).
You know, he's right! The new shows on TV this fall have generally been garbage. What's been on this year, the Bionic Woman? I think that got cancelled. There was also The Sarah Connor Chronicles, but I don't watch that either. I can't remember a fall when there hasn't been a single, memorable new show in my lifetime, ever. But then again, a lot of these shows never had a chance to prove themselves because, well, the writers walked and these shows went off the air.
As well, the amount of reality junk/ game shows/ amateur talent shows on network television these days is through the roof. Everyone is talking about how bad the ratings are for American Idol these days and there is good reason for it, ladies and gentlemen: the public is bored and fed up! People are tired of Paula's loopiness, people are sick of these good singers getting the boot and these bad singers getting to stick around, and on and on.
It's not just that, it's these other shows too like American Gladiators and this other reality crap we've gotten in droves, stuff like Big Brother and The Moment of Truth, and Don't Forget the Lyrics and the rest of it. Everyone is tired of watching crap on television and it's getting to the point where people are simply giving up on television altogether and moving on to other options.
I notice that a lot of folks, young people especially, have moved away from watching conventional television and are turning to DVDs in droves. Let's face it, there's more stuff for younger audiences in the DVD market than on television these days, what with all the superhero and sci-fi movie stuff being released. As for their favorite shows, people would rather just buy DVDs of various series and watch them one after another, commercial free. Beats waiting for your favorite show to come on.
(Of course, fans of the show The Simpsons don't have that problem because that show can be found seemingly at all hours of the day. But I digress.)
Then there's downloaded TV off the Internet, which poses an additional problem for conventional television because so many old favorites can only be found these days online, not on television.
For example, can anyone watch reruns of The Dick Van Dyke Show on conventional television anymore?! Of course not. But fortunately, reruns of Rob, Laura and the rest live on forever on YouTube, as you can see here.
People will say this is a great thing, but personally, I think this sucks that we have to resort to the Internet to watch these classic shows again! People ought to be able to have an outlet to view these old classic TV shows on TV, not online!! There ought to be some channel devoted to TV shows similar to what Turner Classic Movies does for film, but there isn't -- not even TV Land.
Anyway, I think there are a lot of reasons why fewer people watch TV and this is all because the experience of watching conventional television BLOWS for a lot of people. And, yes, it's not just the writers strike that is the reason for the decline. It's because we simply aren't being offered a lot of good TV right now from these networks. It's too bad.