Competition grows fierce in the quality TV jungle as the news media landscape shifts.
While more receive information and entertainment through screens, embattled traditional print media still deliver the best guides to the burgeoning universe of choices, the battle for consumers' time.
Showing new Vanity Fair editor Radhika Jones' commitment to extensively reported and well-written long articles as ad revenues and newsstand sales decline, writer Joy Press in the magazine's annual Hollywood issue delves into HBO's efforts to stay atop the TV world as Netflix and Amazon gain strength and Disney, Apple and others enter the streaming world.
Displaying the continued value of old-fashioned business reporting, The Wall Street Journal Wednesday looked into Apple's so far unsuccessful effort to sign publishers like The New York Times and the Washington Post to a news subscription service.
The two articles trace the interconnected lines of the new media world. Along with streaming movies and TV shows, happy couch voyagers can also play video games, engage in virtual reality and listen to music services. Seeking to stay afloat are print magazines, books. movies, traditional TV networks and cable channels and the theater. While ESPN falls, low ratings for the lackluster Super Bowl give warning that mega sports events are no longer guaranteed to draw mass audiences.
While local newspapers die and the online world teems with voices beyond the mainstream, the new TV world gives a fertile market for content producers, once known as writers, playwrights, producers.
Press in her Vanity Fair piece outlines HBO's changing strategy under new owner Time Warner, a cable and media conglomerate seeking to stay ahead of changes such as viewers abandoning their cable boxes.
Credited for launching the "quality TV" era with must-see Sunday-night shows like "The Sopranos," "The Wire" and "Sex and The City," HBO wants to expand its content and move toward the streaming services' watch anytime model. The end of "The Game of Thrones" will leave a void the channel hopes to fill with a prequel related to the fantasy show.
With its much larger content budget, Netflix matched HBO with 23 Emmys. Now Apple, Disney and traditional TV networks are jumping into the streaming world, with HBO also entering the stream.
HBO's established Sunday night model offers advantages. Shows like the recently launched third season of "True Detective" are seen as shared national events, receiving strong media attention. Even high-quality shows can disappear in the Netflix content flood.
As digital models supplant print, Apple's news service would give subscribers a selection of news articles through use of an app, according to the WSJ. Newspapers would share revenue with Apple, based on readership numbers. The New York Times and Washington Post, whose online subscriptions have skyrocketed during the Trump presidency, are reluctant to join, according to the article.
The increasing number of streaming services will make for a chaotic spectrum of choices. From TV dramas and comedies to documentaries and comic specials, consumers can remove themselves from politics, environmental news and international crises. The ability to distinguish between real and fake news will decline. Or perhaps the country's citizens will renew their commitment to keeping informed and remaining involved in civic life.