No one likes paying for cable. But the rise of the pay-TV business model led to the revolution in quality we’re currently enjoying from HBO shows like Thrones, as well as basic-cable programs like Mad Men and Breaking Bad. Years ago, when channels only received revenue from advertising, they made shows to reach as many people as possible, whether viewers loved them or just tuned in because they happened to be on. Cable changed those incentives, rewarding the creation of shows viewers felt strongly enough to pay for (indirectly in the case of channels like FX and AMC). That made nuanced drama profitable on television—and the best television more sophisticated than film. Sometimes, you really do get what you pay for.
NO ONE LIKES PAYING FOR CABLE. BUT THE RISE OF THE PAY-TV BUSINESS MODEL LED TO THE REVOLUTION IN QUALITY WE’RE CURRENTLY ENJOYING FROM HBO SHOWS LIKE THRONES.
Shows like Game of Thrones cost big bucks. Each episode of the first season reportedly had a budget of more than $5 million. Most such shows don’t attract all that many viewers compared to cheaper mainstream programs like American Idol. And if Game of Thrones sounds like easy money, remember that it has to generate enough profit to make up for Romeand John From Cincinnati. If HBO sold every show by the episode right away, it would have to charge a premium for hits to make up for its inevitable misses
“Fred Armisen and I are obsessed with the minutiae of a situation. What is fomenting the most discomfort in a relationship? It’s usually where someone’s belief system kind of goes off the rails. That’s where we want to start exploring, because that moment is where you feel almost your worst.”
For the season finale of Fox series Alcatraz, showrunners will realize a fantasy born of working in San Francisco for months: to recreate the chase scene from Steve McQueen’s 1968 film Bullitt. And they had just the partner to help pull it off: Ford.
Ford has been tied into the JJ Abrams-created show from the start. The series centers on the disappearance of 302 Alcatraz prisoners and guards in 1963, and their mysterious reappearance in present day. Ford cars have appeared in the show and the brand has worked with Fox and series producers on elaborate brand content initiatives, like the Legends of Alcatraz alternate reality game which marked the launch of the show.
And now, the Ford Mustang will play a part in the conclusion of the series’ first season.
As “Mad Men” moves further into the 1960s, Jennifer Getzinger, who directed tonight’s two-hour season premiere, hints at changes—in characters, sets, and of course, costumes—to come this season.
“We put so much time and care and love into the design of these sets and the design of these clothes and the hair and these people that the frame is going to look full and rich. You don’t have to do some fancy camera move to try to add some excitement. So we try to really let things play in very classic ways. It is about finding these great graphic frames. There are so many amazing lines in the design of the sets. Especially the office. But a lot of [our] sets have that. We shoot a little lower [than most television shows] and so we always have ceilings—fantastic ceilings—so you can get these really beautiful, graphic shots. You’d be surprised how many sets don’t have ceilings.”
Kinect hack of the day: Xbox is unveiling a sharp idea called Xbox Kinect TV for the next generation of television: interactive, live-action content, produced in partnership Sesame Workshop and National Geographic. That’s right folks, Sesame Street 2.0 is set to prepare your kids for the new media world. Watch the video & read all about it here.