But both programs have returned. This year, producers behind Live PD crafted a similar show for the Reelz cable channel, called On Patrol: Live, that was so similar, the A&E channel sued for copyright infringement. (COPS resurfaced on the Fox Nation streaming service last year.) Worse than any copycatting – at least, from my point of view – was the sense that the shows could come back because people had grown tired of keeping them off the air.
I had similar feelings watching Louis C.K. win a Grammy this year for best comedy album, not long after his comedy career imploded in 2017 after admitting a New York Times report about how he sexually harassed and intimidated women in the comedy world was true. Or seeing Will Smith unleash his considerable charisma on red carpets just weeks ago to promote his film Emancipation, months after physically attacking Chris Rock onstage at this year’s Oscars.
As a culture, we haven’t yet decided how to bring shows and performers back who have been drubbed out of show business for egregious behavior. There is a sense that it should involve some kind of apology and assurance that the terrible behavior won’t be repeated – that was Smith’s playbook in returning to public life. But that hasn’t always happened.
I worry we’re seeing the public begin to weary of asking the important questions about exploitation and oppression that movements like #Metoo and Black Lives Matter posed in pop culture just a few years ago. Stop asking those questions, and it probably won’t be long before the awful behavior returns.
Media layoffs hit hard, especially in journalism
Along with Warner Bros. Discovery’s layoffs (more about those below), media companies like Paramount Global, Comcast, Roku and Disney announced layoffs this year, often in response to slowing advertising sales amid fears of a looming recession.
Cutbacks at journalism outlets include Gannett, The Washington Post, BuzzFeed and Outside, Inc. NPR has announced cutbacks aimed at saving $10 million to avoid layoffs, including suspending its summer internship program next year.
It’s just the kind of challenge media outlets don’t need, as they continue to struggle against misinformation and maintaining quality local news coverage in communities with fewer and fewer options.
Streaming TV gets smaller and more expensive as the industry hits adolescence
Once touted as the future of television – which it probably still is – online streaming faced a hard reset this year, starting with industry giant Netflix actually losing subscribers in the first two quarters of the year. Since then, Wall Street has begun asking tough questions about whether any but a handful of platforms can grow big enough to make massive profits.
The results, for consumers, have been challenging. HBO Max has pulled material from its library with little warning to subscribers, to take advantage of tax breaks and limit expenses. Netflix, Disney+ and Apple TV+ have all raised prices this year, just as an NPR poll of more than 700 streaming service users revealed that cost is their biggest concern in choosing a subscription. (The second-biggest concern? Access to great content.)
And the biggest change Netflix and Disney+ offered this year was a cheaper subscription with ads — an alternative which seems more like a PR move in the face of rising fees rather than anything most streaming consumers are interested in buying.
It’s a messy transition: streaming is moving from a promising childhood into a complicated adolescence. Back in the fall of 2019, big companies like Disney and Apple began pouring money and resources into establishing streaming services, well aware that the future of TV viewing was headed there and eager to keep Netflix from dominating it all. The pandemic only accelerated streaming habits that already seemed to be in motion.
But 2022 was the year reality intruded. More traditional forms of media are still where most revenue is made, and streaming platforms have had to make tougher choices. Consumers learned this year: Streaming services will not always offer a bottomless well of content. In the future, they likely will cost more, have a little less library content and cancel more shows more quickly. Welcome to the future.
The contraction and dimming future of late night TV
Too many great late night hosts left the genre in 2022. Samantha Bee was canceled by Warner Bros. Discovery; Desus & Mero stopped their Showtime program after they ended their partnership, James Corden announced he would leave CBS’ The Late Late Show next year and Trevor Noah surprised even his coworkers by announcing he would leave The Daily Show seven years after succeeding Jon Stewart.