For all those folks who have wondered what it would take to make me stop watching CBS's Elementary, I think we have found the answer.
Make me pay for it.
Reuter's had an article this week about CBS CEO Les Moonves discussing cutting off the network's broadcast transmission and going totally internet based if a certain court case didn't go their way. It sounds like an unlikely threat, but if they did they would turn the channel into another cable network. Which could be one of those "included in the main package" things like USA, or a premium channel like HBO. Even though it would probably be the former, the idea of "pay for play" that it brings up is worth a little discussion.
One of my friends is a big supporter of getting rid of commercials and individually buying every TV show you want, as iTunes will let you do. As I quickly discovered, via Netflix streaming and my own iTunes purchases of a few special shows, life without commercials is a wonderful thing. But it also makes you really consider what you're watching.
I've bought the DVDs of Sherlock, to watch it whenever I choose, so obviously I'd pay for that one. I've bought tickets for Sherlock Holmes: Game of Shadows, so plainly I'd pay to see Robert Downey Jr. as Holmes. But Elementary . . . well, the day they start charging for that one, I'm out.
And I'm betting a goodly share of its eight million viewers go with me.
There's a reason HBO wins award after award for its programming: they have to make shows good enough to get people to pay for their network. With the big four networks, it's usually the strategy for outrunning a bear -- you don't have to be faster than the bear, just faster than the other guy the bear is chasing. Network TV just has to be good enough to draw eyeballs away from whatever else is on in that timeslot for that mass of viewers that are just going to be plopped down watching one thing or another anyway.
Which, I guess, knocks Robert Downey Jr. out of my "pay for quality" test, as I tend to head for the movie theaters every weekend to see one thing or another anyway, just as those habitual TV viewers do. I'd have made the trip anyway that weekend, even without Game of Shadows.
So what Sherlocks would you pay for, if you're not a Sherlockian collector who'd buy it all anyway?