For decades, TV has led the way for bold storytelling. TV shows have raised the bar repeatedly, challenging conventional wisdom of what is commercially successful as well as what viewers will connect with. Over the past decade, the TV market has exploded with new options as more and more streaming services launch. But competition is a good thing, and the result has been a win for viewers, as more high-quality entertainment becomes available every day. But through all this change, one thing has stayed the same—innovative TV comes from cable networks.
In fact, in 2020, cable networks were awarded 71 Emmys as shows like “Schitt’s Creek,” “Pose,” and “Watchmen” swept top categories. These groundbreaking projects are lauded not only because of their mastery of cinematography or acting or writing, but also because they use their productions to elevate voices that have long been ignored.
Diversity on screen, as well as behind the camera, has progressed in recent years, with GLAAD reporting that in the 2020-2021 television season, cable TV counted 118 series regular and returning characters that were LGBTQ. Audiences have applauded more diversity on screen, and studios are pushing new boundaries to continue diversifying writers’ rooms and crews.
TV also has a power to impact and uplift communities other than by telling their stories. As audiences are eager for more high-quality entertainment, networks are producing big-budget shows that often film on location (instead of on a set) to relay a sense of realism. Filming on location brings jobs, investment, business, and tourism. The FX anthology series “Fargo” filmed its most recent season in Chicago, and according to the Illinois Film Office it brought in about $56 million to the local economy. That means jobs, business to local shops and restaurants, and many other types of direct economic stimulation.
TV has a long history of leading the pack and innovating the medium. From ushering in “the golden age of TV” to improving representation in front of and behind the camera, cable continues to set the standard and lead by example. The effects of these bold projects can be felt on a human level, and all the way to an economic level. To learn more, visit the NCTA “Power of TV” page.