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Patricia Handshiegel

Digital Dish covers the ins and outs of an Internet executive moving into the television arena. Disher Patricia Handschiegel is the founder of Stylediary.net, which she sold to Stylehive.com in November 2007. She has a background in Internet infrastructure and technology business, was an advisor to Kaboodle.com (sold to Hearst in 2007), and has contributed as an entertainment/media business writer for Venturebeat.com. She’s also been an early visionary of professional Internet TV content since 2005 and is currently an advisor on several entertainment/Internet projects. Always an entrepreneur, she had a highly profitable babysitting monopoly at 11, lent her writing skill to students at 17 and landed her first published national article at 23.

She has also worked as a ghost writer for a national TV correspondent. At 22, she was recognized nationally for promoting the growth of women’s hockey and advised companies on creating hockey products for women. She’s been quoted and profiled in dozens of media outlets since and is currently developing two book concepts. A serial entrepreneur, she plans to continue to build Internet, entertainment and media companies, with the goal of promoting social change and charities. She is currently involved in the use of technology to help find missing and abused children, and has contributed financially to TheJoyfulChild.org and other organizations. She is the founder of Look|Shop|List.com (in development).

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Why Is TV So Redundant?

December 19, 2008 10:26 AM

One of the things I’ve noticed is that despite tons of channels (which should technically mean a lot of programming options) most of what’s on TV is really similar. There are several shows set to the backdrop of hospitals and emergency rooms, dozens about fashion careers (and trying to make it in the business), and of course, the rich and privileged.

Of the said 300 million people in the United States, just 1% of the population are millionaires, yet somehow, if you look at TV programming our country appears to be full of them.
Well, sort of. At least when it comes to women-targeted concepts.

As I researched past programming for today’s article, I found shows like “Dallas” and “Fantasy Island,” which I guess in some way are the same as the modern-day affluence themes in “Gossip Girl,” “90210,” “Real Housewives” and all the other slice-of-wealthy-life shows on television.

Only back then, the upper class apparently rubbed elbows with average Joes by way of shows like “Roseanne,” “Family Ties” and “The Jeffersons.”

Now, even “Jon & Kate Plus 8” seem to be doing pretty well, and they’re feeding the equivalent of the four-on-four volleyball tournament.

I’m glad to see that at least in TV land, nobody’s struggling with 7% unemployment, bailouts and layoffs.

After all, TV wasn’t nicknamed the “boob tube” for nothing. Since the dawn of time, TV programming has aimed to transport us all somewhere. I for one like that there’s a lot of fun and fantasy. Everybody knows that Carrie Bradshaw could have never lived in a nice Manhattan apartment and Manolo Blahniks on a newspaper columnist’s salary (especially today). If only renting a house in the Hollywood Hills could be done working as an intern a la Lauren Conrad!

But seriously, I have been wondering: Why are so many shows the same when we have more TV channels than ever?

Even the most seasoned entertainment veterans I’ve met and know can’t seem to be able to pinpoint the answer. Some say it’s risk aversion, others blame the pitch. Far many more honestly shrug sheepishly and say, “This is just how the business is.”

Is it fragmentation? Something about the process? I’m curious and am going to be exploring more about how the business does its business to see if I can find the answer.

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Comments (12)

Andy S.:

Actually, if you look at made-for-cable series, there's a lot more interesting programming going on that doesn't fit the mold of the old-line broadcast networks. Rescue Me, Dexter, Weeds, Breaking Bad, Mad Men, and others are expanding the possibilities of series programming in ways that Lorimar, Spelling and Quinn Martin would never have imagined. Yes, there is a lot of redundancy to be found, as TV is very much a me-too business, but if you look for them, truly original shows are out there.

PW:

I'll venture a guess here and suggest that it's maybe something as simple as supply and demand. Advertisers are willing to pay for the sort of content being put out there and producers decide that it's what they have to stick with if they want to get paid. Advertisers are risk averse, so we get a lot of risk averse (reality averse) television :(

BB:

I think programmers are generally trying to keep the status quo of their marketing strategy to maintain advertisers.

I also think they are out of touch with the general public and don't realize how bored we truly are with their decisions. More and more people I know are losing interest in tv. Canceling my cable is remains an alluring thought.

PP:

There is nothing so original in the world of television production as copying what everyone else does.

The same could be said for movies.

Ah, so it all stems from the advertisers! Makes perfect sense.

@andy, I agree that there are kernals of originality, but I think when you're bringing back Nightrider, there's just an inherent flaw....

elyse:

What's truly said is when writers in a franchise keep re-using the same scripts in the newer shows. In olden days, fans got upset and yelled. Now, they just shrug their shoulders.

Jim:

I suspect there is the assumption that when we think of TV and the film biz we make the assumption that since creatives are involved...something creative will result. That, over many decades, has not been proven to be accurate. Perhaps its not the creatives we should be worried about but the execs with their fingers on the "green light/red light" button.

@elyse, I wonder if it's not that they yell, but that they stop watching? Maybe it's why TV viewership is dropping?

>>>I’m glad to see that at least in TV land, nobody’s struggling with 7% unemployment, bailouts and layoffs.

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Wow, finally some reality! Ty ; refreshing . I am on a mission to try to teach people that perception is different from reality.

It hasn't quite hit home yet for most Americans that out way of life is about to take a huge turn backward. The endless printing of our money supply is the problem, and Dr. Ron Paul of Texas has been telling the truth about it for years.

Now that we're in crisis mode perhaps some folks will ask more questions and stop dumping their life savings into 401k plans for that free employer match part. It's all so bogus lol . Anyway cheers, nice article =)

1. Risk Aversion
2. MBAs in creative positions
3. People making TV often don't watch it. And they should, they would then realize that a lot of them don't tell stories well in this arena.
4. Money always beats innovation, should be the other way around.

_AJ_:

Market "research", media agencies who can't take chances with their clients money, and MBAs in creative positions. If it ain't broke, don't fix it. I'm wondering what will happen to television when the automobile industry stops running so much advertising. No new programs? Who's going to fill the void?

Cains:

While there are many TV channels, their are fewer media companies; Viacom/Disney/News Corp/Time Warner/NBC-Universal are responsible for the majority of mainstream entertainment.

Smaller channels generally lack the investment to produce a lot of high-quality original content.

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