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(En)Counter Strike

Turn off the TV. And let the games begin.

The fall-off in viewership is unprecedented, and among no group is this more the case that young males between 18 and 24, a prime target group for advertisers. Among this cohort, the drop in viewership has been an astounding 20 percent this year compared to last, which showed a 12 percent drop in men 18-34.

Not surprisingly, with hundreds of millions of dollars of advertising at stake from lost future revenues to pay-backs on unfulfilled guarantees, there is a lot of explaining going on from every quarter. Some observers blame a poor crop of new shows this season; though it is hard to detect any profound differences from years past. Others suggest that the network season kick-off has been disrupted by a very intense World Series — but that excuse could also be used for seeing more viewers, not just fewer.

Meanwhile, some network executives are blaming Nielsen Media Research, the folks who measure viewer ratings, claiming that the firm's methodology is faulty in this new era of digital cable boxes and satellite dishes. Nielsen, of course, disagrees — and even if the claims are true, it's still hard to imagine how they could account for such a radical drop-off.

Frankly, the networks have reason to be scared, and not just about this season's revenues. A displacement of this magnitude very possibly signals a massive shift taking place just below the surface of our society. It may even mark the beginning of the end of the dominance of television in American life.

View: Full article @ ABC News

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