For close to twenty years, one third of the country tuned in to NBC on Thursday night to watch the network's "Must See TV" prime time blocks. The dramas and sitcoms that dominated the ratings throughout the 90s became part of the national conversation. Warren Littlefield, the former president of NBC, tells Big Think that if you missed shows like ER or Friends or The West Wing, you didn't want to go to work the next day. You'd be left out.
All of this, of course, has changed, as television has grown from a 50-channel universe to a 200-channel universe. "It’s a different, more competitive world," Littlefield says, but it's also a better world in his view.
Sure, we're never going to see 75 million people joining together on one night, but "the viewer is left with a world of choice, outstanding material on cable television, outstanding material still on network television," Littlefield says. And that's not to mention the Internet, with Netflix entering the game of original programming and winning Emmys.
"The more players that want to create original content and finance it," Littlefield says, "the more exciting it is in the world of ideas."
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