We could fill many columns with extensive analysis on the assortment of memorable developments from the TV scene this year, but let’s boil it down to just one over what you should take away from 2012. The takeaways below, for sure, come from one vantage point, and you're welcome to accept them, or create your own. Feel free to alert me of the latter if you wish. Here goes:
(1) Smart TV
The smart TV is the most impactful development of 2012, and may end up the most impactful of the decade. Every TV set maker now offers the ability for you to watch programming, the Internet and a growing number of interactive TV applications at any time in their latest models. You can also manipulate these sets by remote, smartphone, tablet, voice or gestures – your move. More of them showcase Google TV.
What these sets can do, and how you use them, will only expand. Already, a few notable studies show more people are browsing Web sites on their TV than their computers. Every Web site, whether they want to or not, may have to make their product more TV-friendly.
Oh – if Apple enters this picture with their own creation, a lot more people will develop a smart kinship to their viewing habits quite fast.
(2) The Year of the Showrunner
This is the best time to be a TV series creator. They have more places to land their creations than ever before: broadcast and cable networks, syndication, video-on-demand, digital subcarrier services getting broadcast and cable clearance, satellite, HD channels, 3D channels,smartTVs running YouTube. Netflix, Hulu and Amazon will enter the original series picture in a major way next year.
(3) Cable TV Gets New Life in the Fall
No more down time for cable networks when it comes to original programming. No more thinking that fall is a broadcast-exclusive season; only take your best shots in spring and summer. If ESPN's NFL Monday Night Football success didn't convince other cable channels to showcase original alternatives to broadcast in the fall last decade, AMC's The Walking Dead, Emmy-winning Homeland over Showtime, Sons Of Anarchy and American Horror Story on FX and an expanded Thursday Night Football schedule on NFL Network this fall will push them next year and beyond.
(4) Television is Diversified
There's no stopping diversity now. At this time a year ago, not one new scripted series on CBS, NBC, Fox and The CW had a lead actor of color, only few had supporting actors of color and so on down the line. To their credit, that inexcusable result has been reversed.
In the meantime, Comcast got its pledge to add at least eight independently-owned cable networks by people/organizations of color off the ground (under its NBC Universal ownership) with the launches of BabyFirst Americas in April, followed by Aspire from Magic Johnson two months later. Up next: music-centric Revolt from Sean Combs and El Rey by Robert Rodriguez.
More series with people of color headlined in front of and behind the camera are in development by both broadcast and cable nets, along with more networks, such as the ABC/Univision joint news service starting next July. There is a lot more work to do, as the day when the U.S. population reaches a multicultural majority benchmark nears. We're back in forward mode.
(5) No Longer Just Cops, Docs and Lawyers
We're moving away from a scripted drama mindset of cop, law, medic and little else. Check out the rundown of what's in contention among all the networks, and the variety beyond cop, law and medic is far better. The odds look better with the knowledge that a bunch of networks will dive into scripted series next year, including History, E!, Bravo, the Oprah Winfrey Network via Tyler Perry and Hallmark Channel.
Side note: we may get a variety of scripted and reality series approved for a limited run without benefit of a pilot.
(6) Funding Comes From Everywhere
The public at large may end up invested more in new TV series, networks and applications launching than venture capitalists, angel financers and the growing incubator/accelerator movement, all remaining apathetic (and for me, pathetic) over a role in funding new TV services or technology.
Crowdfunding may be the catalyst for this, as in projects deriving seed money from individuals through campaigns on Kickstarter, Mobcaster, Indie GoGo and other Web sites. DTLA, a scripted drama with $30,000 in Kickstarter-raised funding, ran on Logo two months ago. One crowdfunding player is offering partnerships with TV production firms for series appeals. Yes, it's no guarantee that a series with this backing gets a profitable run. On the other hand, it can be a life preserver for creators with nowhere else to turn.
There's your nutshell. Your take is welcome along with mine. Here's to all of us enjoying more unique, quality TV content and services throughout 2013.
Until the next time, stay well and stay tuned!