Wednesday, November 25

New ‘TV’ Is a Lot Like TV


There are understandable reasons for most of this. Netflix and most other internet video services grafted existing business approaches or behaviors onto the web. They’re also buying programming in many cases from the same companies that sell stuff for conventional TV channels and theaters.

I also suspect that there is a failure of imagination. One of the refreshing things about TikTok, Snapchat and even the silly mobile video service Quibi is they are testing unconventional entertainment ideas tailored for people who never watched VHS tapes. It might not work, but at least they’re not parochial.

I know I’m being cranky. I’ll be happily slumped on my sofa this holiday weekend watching Netflix and (probably) the “Hamilton” movie. But I’ll also be noticing that the new watching “TV” still feels a lot like watching TV.

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In Wednesday’s newsletter, I wrote about Facebook’s tendency when confronted with criticism to react angrily, point to its principles and vow not to change. And then, Facebook is usually forced to change.

Welp. Here is Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook’s chief executive, speaking to employees last week about companies that have suspended buying Facebook ads, according to the technology news outlet the Information:

“I tend to think that if someone goes out there and threatens you to do something, that actually kind of puts you in a box where in some ways it’s even harder to do what they want because now it looks like you’re capitulating, and that sets up bad long-term incentives for others to do that [to you] as well.”

Got it? Facebook won’t cave, because it doesn’t want to look like it’s capitulating to threats.

I understand the sentiment. But Facebook is not a hostage negotiator, and advertisers pressuring the company to do more about online vitriol are not hostage takers. (The company’s executives have been communicating with the unhappy advertisers, so Facebook’s view may have softened in the last week.)

I share some of Zuckerberg’s skepticism that what these boycotting advertisers want most is a pat on the back for appearing to take a stand against a company with a tarnished reputation. (Check out, for example, the latest column by Charlie Warzel, an Opinion writer for The New York Times, about Facebook being beyond reform.)



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