While broadcast television and commercial cable took a hit at the Golden Globes last night, the success of shows like Transparent and House of Cards should not be seen as a sign of their impending doom: far more people watch the shows on network TV than on any of the cable or streaming services.
What the win tonight signified was the solidification (for now) of subscription cable and streaming services as a home for the sort of high quality programming that wouldn’t be able to make it on broadcast TV, shows that are never going to be mass market phenomena, but which hit a segment of the market whose influence as tastemakers provides a reason to stick with them. That’s a huge win in terms of getting to watch quality television without having to rely on British imports: we've never had that sort of a home base in the US before. It also opens up opportunities for many more actors, writers and producers who’d been frozen out by the reality TV wave.
Broadcast TV pays actors and writers ca lot more than cable and streaming because it has a much larger audience than those platforms do. And it’s always going to have an audience, the same way James Patterson novels have an audience: more people read Patterson’s books than whatever’s won the National Book Award, but the National Book Award winner is likely to have far more influence on both the chattering classes and the next generation of novelists. Ditto quality TV shows versus standard issue sitcoms.
Which is awesome, because the way I see it, that lets everyone win.
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