As TV critics often remind us, we’re living in a second Golden Age of television. It’s an exciting era in which writers and producers, now freed from the constraints of the major networks thanks to the proliferation of TV channels, online distribution options and independent production companies, are taking risks and serving up innovative content. Inspired by HBO’s wildly popular mobster series, The Sopranos, a new generation of producers began offering critically acclaimed fare like Breaking Bad and Mad Men. And now, series like Orange Is the New Black and House of Cards are making waves via subscription streaming services.
This revolution in content production has been largely driven and enabled by a sea change in how consumers access programming. The first wave came as the proliferation of TV channels available via cable/satellite/telco subscriptions. The second wave is the on-demand availability of content through streaming services like Amazon Prime, Hulu Plus and Netflix, powered by over-the-top devices like Roku, Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV and gaming consoles like Xbox. Standalone niche networks that are available 24/7 in a channel format via apps and online – like the Tennis Channel and WWE Network – are also part of this wave.
The on-demand component is important to today’s consumers, especially Millennials and Generation Z, who have come to expect access to content on multiple devices whenever and wherever they want it. Cable networks have gotten the message.