Mediascape: bland decline of network television offset by dynamic streaming offerings



Kitsap News Group editor-in-chief Bob Smith periodically reviews social media trends, digital platforms and entertainment options for 2021 in “Mediascape”.

Traditional terrestrial television networks have offered a lot less “must-see” TV these days, at least from the confines of my home.

Bob Smith, Editor-in-Chief of Kitsap News Group

Besides the immediacy that ABC, CBS, Fox and NBC offer with their coverage of breaking news and full sports, the dramatic and comedic storylines they present to American audiences are mostly mundane and well-known. PBS’s list of dramas and documentaries is the exception among the Nets; shows such as the expertly crafted “Frontline” and “Nova” series continue to shine with thoughtful and provocative effort that the commercial Big Four rarely matches.

Streaming networks are gradually becoming an electronic afterthought due to the hordes of quality programming now offered by paid streaming services such as Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime. As the overlords of traditional network television have demonstrated over the past decade, the practice of attracting the widest possible audience with lame, bland and harmless programming is no longer enough. Instead, today’s viewers are offered a cornucopia of thousands of quality choices that invariably have a fragmented audience share and, as a result, have turned the economic basket of network television upside down. .

The streaming services offer a TV menu that viewers closely resembles that of a busy Chinese restaurant: choices almost too many to consider and too few hours to digest. Fancy a romantic comedy with a touch of scandal? It’s there in a dozen different scenarios. Do you like wacky absurdity for your comedy? It is there among the thousands of programs to choose from.

For me, however, I find myself consuming more evenings than I would like to admit by the television bibliography that is YouTube. It’s a repository of unfiltered TV content on just about any topic in the sun. If you’re anxious to see how the TV news channels covered the JFK assassination nearly 60 years ago, you’ll easily find Walter Cronkite’s frenzied newsletter (more loosely nowadays referred to as “special report”) interrupting “As The World Turns” on CBS television nationwide, featuring telegraphic reports from UPI and The Dallas Associated Press.

There is also a plethora of music videos, organic vlogs by average people, and content producers who have created pieced together travel diaries from their travels around the world. And there’s the eerie content that draws in spectators in the hundreds of thousands: tours of abandoned theme parks, storylines re-enacted by serial killers and thrill seekers who have documented their latest adventures by swinging off the top of the hill. tall buildings and construction cranes. All of them are capable of giving you a dose of thrills and thrills.

Admittedly less provocative and more mainstream than the previous examples shared above, here is a sample of vlogs and nested productions on YouTube that recently caught my attention:

Noel Philips in flight vlog


This Briton is either an extremely lucky air traveler who flies to exotic global destinations – or a glutton for punishment and a willing participant as he purposely tucks himself into incredibly cramped seats on dilapidated planes that soar trembling on a wing and a prayer.

In this segment, Philips climbs aboard a YAK-45 airliner dating back almost half a century to the Soviet era for an endless flight through Russia. Having made several flights myself over the past few years on Russian planes that could best be described as old tin cans suspended in the air, thanks to Philips, I relived those experiences while luckily being installed on dry land.

The 2009 New York Philharmonic performance in North Korea


This mashup of conflicting cultures, presented in (alas, infuriatingly) short segments by TheKoreanMario, is as fascinating as it is confusing. Music director Lorin Maazel leads the 106-member orchestra in front of a Pyongyang audience of mostly men dressed in drab costumes, presumably high-ranking party members with enough strength to win tickets to this rare cultural event. There are no common citizens among the spectators of the Grand Theater in East Pyongyang, just the aforementioned government elite and an assortment of what appear to be foreign diplomats.

Held during a period of relaxed, albeit fleeting, relations between the Democratic People’s Republic of North Korea and the U.S. government, Philharmonic Orchestra officials insisted that the show be shown in its entirety on North Television. -Korean. It was the first significant cultural visit by the United States to North Korea since the Korean conflict in the early 1950s.

Set your YouTube setting so that TheKoreanMario series can unfold seamlessly in front of you from start to finish; the talented musicians share interpretations of Gershwin’s “An American in Paris”, Dvorak’s “Du Nouveau Monde” Symphony No. 9, “Largo” and, at the start, national anthems of both nations. Interestingly, most spectators, even the elite, the privileged few, have probably heard the “Star Spangled Banner” for the first time in their lives. Also note: the pinch of philharmonic musicians of Korean descent.

This segment features the New York Philharmonic’s charming interpretation of “Arirang,” a folk song of deep significance among people on both sides of the Korean border. It’s especially poignant at the end of the arrangement when the button-down audience finally relaxed and gave a standing ovation and shared hand gestures with the orchestra members.

ATLYS String Quartet – “The Call of Autumn”


This talented and charismatic American female string quartet, anchored like most people around the world by the pandemic over the past 18 months and unable to perform in public, instead created a series of original music and cover segments shot in distance and collected under the generic title of “Quilted ATLYS. This beautiful and intimate interpretation of the arrangement “Fall’s Calling” is called a “Renaissance neoclassical fantasy fairy tale”. Enjoy.


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