Channel specialization is nothing new. Ever since cable was introduced we’ve had access to channels we never thought we could need. Who would ever think of doing a weather channel on a local basis? So we’ve had a while to get used to this idea. I personally have no need for a fishing channel, but have no problem with it occupying channel 98 on my cable box.
What bothers me is that the programming on these channels is increasingly divergent from their intended purpose. What’s the point of having the Golf channel if it shows tennis? If it was the preppy sport channel, it would be fine. But that is not what they advertise it as. I would never force myself to watch the Golf channel to look for non-golf programming, but here are some examples of odd programming choices I’ve seen in my recently acquired free-time:
Last week in NY my family was watching AMC (American Movie Classics.) They were showing Hustle, a new British crime drama. So the show was not American, not a movie and not a classic.
The History Channel has a number of reality shows. History is past tense. Reality shows are present tense. This is a clear mismatch.
The Discovery Channel has long since lost its vision. It seems the majority of their programming relates to either interior decorating or building motorcycles. Both of these are would be alright in small doses, but not the massive airtime they receive. They now have a gameshow where people hail a taxi, only to find that once inside they get to answer trivia for cash until they reach their destination. This is tangentially related to educational programming, but it’s pushing the envelope.
I don’t think I need to comment on the state of MTV and VH1.
Spike (Television for men) shows dating shows and several hours of Star Trek each day. Not the manliest of material.
Lifetime (Television for women) shows Will and Grace and Frasier all day. Not horrible certainly, but not a direct match either.
I watched several episodes of Law and Order SVU on the Sci-Fi channel a couple weeks ago. You could argue that SVU uses science, and that the stories are fictional. I love SVU, but it shouldn’t be on Sci-Fi.
My conclusion: I have too much time on my hands. But secondarily, channels need to stick with their intended subject. The network channels can show whatever they want, but if you name your channel The Bonsai Channel, I expect to see little trees in the programming. If you don’t have enough material to fill the day, don’t start the channel. Or have it be the Bonsai and Go-Kart channel.
Song of the moment: “Casimir Pulaski Day” Sufjan Stevens