TV is kicking film’s butt

TV shows are a great way to connect over the water-cooler at work, or to unify communities of passionate fans. TV shows are the new independent movies, and have been for a while. Networks and platforms like HBO, Showtime, Netflix, FX and Amazon have created a new range of cultural and artistically satisfying shows. Some might say this golden age of television is currently outshining movies. Here are a few reasons why that may be.

High-octane TV shows are major talking points. I have kick-started many conversations by talking about The Americans, for example – people are hooked on shows like these, and love to discuss them. And why not – TV has never been this good.

Equipment to create moving images has gotten exponentially better and more cost effective. From camera quality and mobility due to smaller sizes, to drones replacing expensive helicopter shots, to slicker digital editing software.

Now you don’t need $237 million (3.5 billion rand) to make Avatar. Okay you probably do, but you now get better quality for lower production costs.

That said, the budget for each episode of Game of Thrones is currently $10 million per episode – so not too shabby.

One episode of Thrones costs roughly the same as 10 Leon Schuster movies, or you could make around 700 local SA films for the whole season of Thrones.

TV is getting better crews to create cinematic looks and sourcing better casts who are attracted to more challenging material. Coupled together with incredible pools of writers given freedom to experiment and surprise.

An example of all of these elements is Season 1 of True Detective.

Season 2, not so much, even though they tried hard.

We have better home viewing equipment, meaning less time required to travel to the cinema and sit in a sticky seat while someone alongside you Whatsapps and talks throughout the entire movie.

Distribution tools are better: faster bandwidth, Apple TV, Roku players and cheaper storage means viewers watch what they want, when they want.

Instead of going to a local cinema with ten movies on offer, they have the whole Internet, on demand and streaming services to choose from.