Turner really pioneered the undermining of the alphabets, not only with 24 hour News Networks but hybrid SUPERSTATIONS that both broadcast to a local market but enjoy national ratings via cable. The formula's been copied to death by now obviously.
I think the networks still enjoy some buying power when it comes to production and talent efforts, but you're right...it's in it's decline.
The post Friends/Frasier world is looking glum for networks and once other mainstays go (like Raymond) with limited replacement prospects other than
reality crapola...its' all downhill.
But the formula is changing to survive. Reality TV is cheap compared to SuperStar salaries. And if the ratings are as good...same income from
advertisers. Which is really where everything is determined. What do advertisers consider the best value for the money? And they're still eating up
the networks (for now) since it's the best national reach going.
Granted there are more targeted ways to reach 45 year old virgins if that's your market (you mentioned Sci-Fi), but the networks still own the broad
spectrum of America. And just think of the new revenues syndicated reruns have produced from cable!
Soaps and game shows had a one day shelf life for networks for years. Now they sell them to cable channels. It all works out.
And like I asked in U2U, are you sure I don't know you from somewhere?