It’s Not Just You. It’s Me.

When one experiences rejection, particularly with the frequency as I have of late, it’s often much easier to try and blame “extenuating circumstances” for one’s woes.  There’s some sort of comfort in being able to reassure yourself that “it’s not your fault”.

I’ve seen that behavior exhibited in plenty of recent quarterly reports and media behavior studies that attempt to explain why companies have missed subscriber and ratings projections, why layoffs and hiring freezes are the order of the day, and how a looming recession bodes even worse possibilities as we head into 2023.  And it’s certainly exhibited by certain MAGA champions who cite injustices from certain state’s attorney generals and county officials for why they lost elections, and are keeping plenty of lawyers employed and overworked as they attempt to change their own realities.

But as someone who has passsionately defended the concept of looking at facts first and opinions second, I saw two items about holiday TV viewership that reminded me that sometimes the very instituitions it’s easy to believe are crumbling before your eyes maybe aren’t quite as dead as one might initially wish to believe.

Per Deadline:

NBC’s telecast of the 2022 Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade earned a 7.2 rating in the 18-49 demo and 27.7 million viewers (including digital, streaming on Peacock and encore viewing). That’s the most total viewers in five years, according to Nielsen.

Thursday’s live telecast stands as NBC’s highest entertainment program in both the demo (5.5) and total viewers (22.3 million) for the year.

The parade was Peacock’s most popular entertainment simulstream event ever, more than doubling reach for the 2021 parade.

And also per Deadline:

Apparently, a whole lot of you were watching football, as a record 42 million viewers tuned in to Fox Sports and its streaming platform, taking in the Dallas Cowboys against the New York Giants.

A new regular season record was set by the contest, won by Dallas, 28-20. 

Not to be outdone, NBC Sports is touting its presentation of the Minnesota Vikings’ down-to-the-wire 33-26 victory over the New England Patriots as the second-most watched Thanksgiving primetime game ever. It averaged a Total Audience Delivery of more than 26 million viewers, based on preliminary data, across NBC TV, Peacock, Telemundo, NBC Sports Digital, and NFL Digital platforms.

And from the Hollywood Reporter:

CBS’ early afternoon matchup, a last-minute Buffalo Bills win over the Detroit Lions, averaged 31.63 million viewers, the highest tally on record for the early Thanksgiving game.

And from the NFL itself:

The NFL announced Friday that 138 million people tuned into the three Thursday games, the most ever on Thanksgiving Day. 

Yes, put another way, more than one in three people in America watched live content on a broadcast TV entity on a single day.

So much for those who think that those ways of consuming media are lost forever.

And it got me to thinking–maybe it’s about time that those who want to blame technology, the pandemic, or other “force majeures” on their particular failings are perhaps falling into the same kinds of traps that those politically divisive whiners are guilty of.  And that list starts with yours truly.

It’s really easy for me to fall into the trap of whining about how many alleged and desired friends have somehow fallen down a rabbit hole of COVID fear and shut down their lives completely.   When I see a rise in mask-wearers as I schlep people to airports and even walking outside in my neighborhood, it’s even easier for me to cry out in anguish about how ridiculous their reliance on those hideous face diapers and KN95 pig snouts are.  And then I somehow can connect my rejections with the fact that so many seem to be insistent that their worlds must be insular, socially distanced and strangers like me shunned.  Yeah, that’s why I spend my holidays alone suffering from isolation and financial woes.

Maybe these people have kids who are at risk of contracting the “triple whammy” of COVID, flu and/or RSV.  Maybe they’re immuno-compromised.  Maybe they simply like how much better they look to the outside world when their facial flaws are covered.

The fact is, these strangers are out there.  As are plenty of my alleged friends.  Their behaviors are a bit closer to pre-pandemic norms than they were, just like the audiences watching Thanksgiving day traditions on good old-fashioned over-the-air TV signals.  How they’re doing it, and our ability to measure it, are perhaps inflating the size and the impact of the results.  When it comes to TV audiences, the facts that we can watch on a number of different platforms and in different languages, and that, compared to previous years, there are simply more people alive to watch, undoubtedly impact the likelihood for spin doctors to have something to write about after they’ve digested their turkey and stuffing.

Incidentally, that paricular art of spinning. which rarely occurs with normal programming, isn’t completely gone, either,  Writers just needed something as newsworthy as this to have their publications devote space to it.

So perhaps both myself and those who feel otherwise victimized need to look at these facts, consider the reality checks they represent, and suck it up just a bit.

Maybe it’s US they’re rejecting.

I can’t speak for content creators in general, but I can certainly emphathize with the tens of thousands of media and tech employees who now have something else in common with me.  For what it’s worth, I feel your pain virtually every waking moment of my life lately.

But in order to move forward positively, unlike those who remain committed to finding fault with legal processes that only a rapidly shrinking lunatic fringe seems to be able to fully embrace, perhaps it’s time for all of us to take ownership of what we may have done to contribute to these realities.  Maybe we simply should have done something different to produce a different result.  We know what the definition of repeating the same behavior is.

So I, for one, apologize.  I sure hope people are capable of accepting it.  Perhaps if I had the resources to have bought a spot in an NFL Thanksgiving game, I’d have had the chance to reach a lot more people than I will this way.   I don’t, of course, and probably most of you don’t, either.

So pass it along if you can.  I’ll resolve to do better.  And I pray more of us choose to follow suit.

Until next time…

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