March 28, 2014

Shame on NBCUniversal! It's shutting down Television Without Pity and even making all its old content unavailable to the public.

Incredible! I've been reading Television Without Pity since... I think as long as there's been the web. Since long before I started blogging (in 2004). Before I even owned a laptop, before there was WiFi, I used to print out pages of TWoP recaps to have something with me to read when I went out walking and stopped in a café. And don't tell me that sentence makes it look like I read while walking. I did read while walking in those days before iPods and digital audiobooks. I read Television Without Pity! What was the point of watching a show like, say, "American Idol" if you weren't going to laugh at it reading Television Without Pity?

Is there any NBC show that I've watched in the last 15 years? "Seinfeld" ended 16 years ago, so maybe not. Damn them! I guess I didn't need TWoP to watch NBC because even with TWoP, it wasn't worth watching.

Why is NBC destroying this internet treasure?

The sassy TWoP TV review and recap site — its motto is “Spare the snark, spoil the networks” — was purchased by NBCU’s Bravo cable unit in 2007. Both were founded in the Web 1.0 era.
I guess the network decided it wanted to spoil itself. It wants to be spoiled. Or it already was spoiled and not even snark could save it. Damn them!
The closing impacts 64 employees at the women-focused DailyCandy and three at TWoP....
It only took 3 employees to run TWoP?! You can't string along 3 employees? (As for DailyCandy, sorry, I don't follow it, despite being a woman, or perhaps because I am the kind of woman who doesn't want my reading woman-focused).
The reason for the closing down was pretty basic: Despite creating laudable sites, there was still not enough traffic and, therefore, a difficulty monetizing the properties, especially in the wake of increased competition since the pair were first founded.
You bought it, it was what it was, so perfectly what it was that you couldn't change it, so you killed it, you fuckers. Great value had been created, you cast your greedy eyes upon it, you thought you could leverage that value, and all you did was destroy it.

Why did NBC buy it, to ruin it? Is it like the Koch Brothers buying the NYT, keeping it going for 7 years, then liquidating the whole operation? Except NBC — and Universal, it's apparently one atrocious entity — is a media operation, reaching out to us, wanting our eyes, ears, and minds. NBCUniversal needs our love or at least our tolerance. I absolutely hate them for this.

Here's how the message is delivered over at Television Without Pity:



Here's the discussion at Throwing Things, where I learned the news. The general opinion seems to be that NBC is only closing what it had already ruined, and "classic Television Without Pity" was already dead. Typical comment:
I can't remember the last time I visited Zombie TWoP. But the quality of the writing and the crazy depth and detail of each recap on OG TWoP was phenometastic.

I'd love to get a scraped archive of the recaps (without having to click through each link.)
And:
Once they had a Project Runway recapper who didn't know what a bias cut was, I was gone, but man, I used to spend days deep in the forums debating Veronica Mars, and it was great for catching up on missed shows or shows you started late or when you wanted to read a dissertation on a "Battlestar Galactica" episode. So, yes, not surprised, but sad.

52 comments:

Pogo is Dead said...

One way to stop your tormenters is to kill them by acquisition and then starving them.

It ain't personal, just business.
Heh heh.

That took some real animosity and long-term planning. Somebody in NBC has along memory, excellent strategy and insider politics, and a stalker's rage.

Now, that sort of talent may have been better spent on actually making profit, but what do I know?

Magson said...

That really stinks. I was just there on the site a few minutes ago catching up on some of their recaps and I completely missed seeing their notice. Now I'm quite upset. I love TWoP! :-(

Curious George said...

Never heard of it. I'll bet I'm not alone.

azaniamindset said...

ha! dance on their graves with all their ridiculously petty forum rules, bannings, and favorite posters who could flout the alleged rules with impunity.

And Feh on their interminable threads making fun of things they *speculated* people they didnt like felt/thought/did off camera. I am thinking Duggers, Sandra Lee and Matt Roloff.

Good riddance to bad rubbish

Kirk said...

Maybe the state of Michigan could do the same to Detroit?

MadisonMan said...

For Idol, I like the recaps at tvline.com. Michael Slezak has been watching forever and knows Idol History, and he teams with Melinda Doolittle for weekly recaps on youtube that are hilarious.

Bob Ellison said...

Maybe you're being sarcastic, Professor. It's easier to assume that you're not, so:

1) Nobody except for you knows or cares about TWoP. I like to think that I know a thing or two about the Interwebs, and I've never heard of it before.

2) Money. Make it, or shut down the business.

3) Three people in a business like that probably cost at least $250k/year. Got that to waste?

In other news, Twitter has no business model. Blog that.

SOJO said...

Hmmm. A friend of mine since my own Web 1.0 days was buds with the founder. I have no idea if she stayed on after she sold to nbc. I'll have to get the scoop.

EDH said...

In the end, a site aptly named for it's post acquisition demise.

A phoenix will rise from the ashes if enough people want it.

Shame about the content archive.

mikeski said...

I began reading it when it was MIghty Big TV and continued for awhile at TWOP, before the "zombie" era began.

The creators have since moved on to Previously.TV, for those who are interested.

Tibore said...

This is sad. Years ago, they had the best recaps on the 'net, bar none. One of their jokes - the Jinx Fairy, something I first saw in the Band of Brothers recaps (yeah, like I said: Years ago) - I use to this day.

Maybe they turned into a shadow of what they once were. I know I stopped reading them after a while. If that's the case, then yeah, they needed to close down.

Freeman Hunt said...

Yikes. That would be like buying and shutting down The Onion.

Bob Ellison said...

Freeman Hunt, the Onion is already a shadow of its former self. My guess is all the good writers got poached by the likes of Kimmel and Fallon.

Freeman Hunt said...

The archive of the recaps would be the main thing. Perhaps someone can save it.

Pogo is Dead said...

Tigers sometimes eat their young.

Freeman Hunt said...

Bob, but it would be bad if The Onion's archive were obliterated.

Heather said...

I just found out. I loved the fact that you could read opinions without the forums going down in flamewars.

Alas, I got banned when I told a recapper that he was better than calling Palin an inbred hick and accusing her husband of messing around with the kids.

CWJ said...

Althouse wrote -

"Except NBC — and Universal, it's apparently one atrocious entity ..."

With Comcast (51%) and GE (49%) upstream that's one super duper "atrocious entity."

Who knows who actually decided to chop TWoP. There would appear to be as many suspects as in a game of "Clue."

tim maguire said...

I'm sure it's sad for its fans. Most cancellations are.

I've never heard of it; it doesn't sound like the kind of site I'd visit more than occasionally. If I like a show, I watch it, if I don't like a show, I don't watch it. I can't imagine watching a show and then going to a website the next day to find out whether or not I liked it.

rhhardin said...

It doesn't have a Get Smart forum, so the hell with it.

cubanbob said...

Freeman Hunt, the Onion is already a shadow of its former self. My guess is all the good writers got poached by the likes of Kimmel and Fallon."

Worse than that. It can't keep up with the Obama-Democrat reality.

EMD said...

I've run The Heath Ledger (think local rag version of The Onion) for about 7 years, but it's been dead for awhile. Haven't the time nor energy to keep it going. We lost the non-Blogger URL and it's kind of withering away.

Stephen A. Meigs said...

It happens frequently that when there is a good website that is a place where many people have an opportunity of expressing themselves, the website gets bought out or the owning management become evil, and the website gets destroyed or mutilated. I am not familiar with TWoP, but the same thing happened to the TV website "Jumped the Shark". Similarly, I was a big fan of Stumbleupon before it got bought out and gutted of its bloggy democratic nature that allowed people to express careful opinions. My favorite philosophy forum was bought and merged into the crappy Able2Know forum, effectively destroying it. The iGoogle browser customizable homepage was excellent and very popular, but Google abandoned it, presumably because they wanted to make it harder for people to choose what they wanted to see as opposed to what it was profitable for them to force people to see. Similarly, Google bought out Youtube and took away most of the capacity for people to display their pages in a customizable straightforward way and to quickly go from a video liked by one person to the other videos liked by that person. And Blogger certainly seems to have become an afterthought to Google (though if that changes, it will probably be because they are destroying it somehow). And as I mentioned a year ago, Facebook apps have so much control over commenting that one doesn't know whether one's comments to a newspaper, etc., are visible just to you, your circle of friends, or to everybody, so newspapers are getting destroyed. There are forces against the spirit of democracy and free speech, and thus anti-American forces, that are casting their wicked influence upon the net. The best thing about the world of late is the explosion in free speech that the internet has created, but that doesn't seem to be increasing of late, and from trends it may be in jeopardy.

Tank said...

@Meigs

Use the enter key once in a while.

Just sayin.

AJ Lynch said...

Comcast owns NBC right? Comcast is all about the money. Sorry for your loss Althouse - maybe you can get some folks to pool their money and buy it?

NotquiteunBuckley said...

"Never heard of it. I'll bet I'm not alone."

I'll take that bet. Everyone has heard of TWoP.

EVERYONE.

NotquiteunBuckley said...

And when you ask "Have you ever heard of Television Without Pity?" they just heard it.

You say it, they hear it.

EMD said...

I can't imagine watching a show and then going to a website the next day to find out whether or not I liked it.

I don't think most who read TWOP watched the shows.

Even the once-great Pajiba has lost its moxie.

Smilin' Jack said...

Shame on NBCUniversal! It's shutting down Television Without Pity and even making all its old content unavailable to the public.


Someone will do a site rip and archive it somewhere. Storage is so cheap these days there's no reason for any content to ever go away. That said, the quality of writing on TWoP definitely isn't what it used to be...and get off my lawn!!

FleetUSA said...

Interesting, despite the Professor's love of the site, it didn't generate enough love to support 3 employees. My guess is that it didn't generate at least $200k p.a. Welcome to the digital world.

Pogo is Dead said...

Schumpeter's curse.

rehajm said...

You bought it, it was what it was, so perfectly what it was that you couldn't change it, so you killed it, you fuckers.

It sounds like the network offered time and latitude to TWoP and Daily Candy but they never found a large enough audience, then the network couldn't find a buyer willing to pay enough to justify permitting competing content to leave the nest. Jungle law says fuckers sometimes smother their kids.

openidname said...

Do you HAVE to call them "f-ers"? Couldn't you make the same point without profanity?

John said...

The Oninon's big problem is that there is almost nothing left to parody.

When I saw the article abotu the Malaysian jet going down due to global warming, I thought that it sounded like the Onion.

Turned out to be a true story.

The jet's disappearance due to a black hole? That was CNN not the Onion.

What about the Internet Archive? Seems like haning on to all the back files of TWoP would be right up their alley. Do they have any plans or is NBC just going to delete the files?

Some woman just donated 40,000 VHS tapes of nightly newscasts to the Archive. They are in the process of being digitized and uploaded.

Why not TWoP?

John Henry

Mitch H. said...

1) Nobody except for you knows or cares about TWoP. I like to think that I know a thing or two about the Interwebs, and I've never heard of it before.

I used to hang out there in the early Oughts, to the point that I actually went to some of the weekend get-togethers in New Jersey and Massachusetts for the Buffy forums. I think I was the only guy at one of them, which isn't as neat as you'd think, since they were all married or gay or precocious teenagers. (Christ, sounds like the usual complaint of a urban white female, doesn't it?)

As I got more conservative, I stopped hanging out there, and one of the forum purges killed my account. At this point, I think that if I were in the same room as a group of TWoPers, they'd all point and hiss like Invasion of the Body Snatchers, but oh, well.

I wonder what happened to Fametracker?

Some Seppo said...

Alas, I got banned when I told a recapper that he was better than calling Palin an inbred hick and accusing her husband of messing around with the kids.

My banning was for the heinous crime of referring to a 15,000 word BSG recap as "OTT" (Over the top).

damikesc said...

Like with Kickstarter, these people are attached to something with no rational claim of ownership.

Ann Althouse said...

I had to delete SOJO's comment because he responded to a commenter I always delete, and I need to delete his reference. But I'm preserving his comment:

In its heydey, many industry writers read and tracked TWoP. Aaron Sorkin's "West Wing" infamously alluded to it, for example. Why shouldn't a blogging professor (who clearly is a straight creative in a parallel life on the road less traveled) have been a fan?

@Althouse Look at it this way, NBC got stuck footing the bill for its relative obsolescence in the twitter/streaming era, so the creators didn't have to.

NBC has not yet deleted the archives, merely made them unavailable. They likely see potential value $$ in them. It's not like you need a building and a piece of real estate a la the Rock 'n' Roll hall of fame to keep that little bit of pop culture history alive. It wouldn't take much.

As far as Daily Candy goes, I wonder how its male-oriented imitators such as Thrillist are faring. AFAIK the founders retained control and I'm curious if that made all the difference.

Ann Althouse said...

"Do you HAVE to call them "f-ers"? Couldn't you make the same point without profanity?"

I don't have to do a fucking thing. But I do.

Ann Althouse said...

"Alas, I got banned when I told a recapper that he was better than calling Palin an inbred hick and accusing her husband of messing around with the kids."

Well, wasn't there a general rule that you aren't supposed to direct comments at the other commenters? You're supposed to say what you have to say about the topic under discussion.

That's a good rule, and it's a rule I suggest people follow too. The back and forth between antagonistic individuals is thread-wrecking.

Now, maybe they applied the rule unequally, so that conservatives were called on violations that weren't enforced against liberals. That would be bad.

But if there's a clearly stated rule, and it's their site and you're a guest, you should follow the rule. It's part of why the forums were good.

I've seen many comments threads here go bad because of commenter back and forth.

Mitch H. said...

Well, wasn't there a general rule that you aren't supposed to direct comments at the other commenters? You're supposed to say what you have to say about the topic under discussion.

Not another commenter, but a recapper, and part of the purpose of the MBTV/TWoP forums was discussion of the recaps. But many of the recappers were hypersensitive, delicate little snowflakes who had zero tolerance for any sort of criticism, let alone shade thrown on their political bigotries.

And the fora were full of ad hominem back-and-forth, it was just understood that the back and forth was to be collegial, and people were not to lose their shit and aim serious vitriol at each other. In practice, this resulted in like-mindedness or people who could fake the accepted party line in a given forum, which tended to be little recapper-cultivated fiefdoms tailored to their individual biases.

You learned to stay the hell out of any fora where you didn't understand the recappers rules or personal lines-that-can't-be-crossed.

Christy said...

Back in the day I opened up TWOP the very minute Lost or Survivor ended. The deconstruction of Lost by commenters was phenomenal. Screenshots of book covers would find someone on the site who recognized the edition and what it was. Obscure names would be quickly identified as some important 17 century thinker. Lost was vastly enhanced by TWOP. Geek heaven.

Rarely checked it out in recent years.

Freeman Hunt said...

I read TWoP about a decade ago. I didn't watch television, but someone told me about their recaps, and I started following the recaps of a show, can't remember what it was now, that I didn't actually watch. I didn't read them for long because they were too long for me for what they were about, but they were very funny.

Biff said...

I'm not usually a fan of snark, but TWoP had some of the best snarky/satirical writing I've seen in a while. While sometimes it misfired, it usually was thoughtful snark. A colleague quipped, "It's like the long form of a Mad magazine satire." Exactly right! If you enjoyed Mad, there is a good chance that you'd like TWoP. A pity that they are taking down the archives.

Revenant said...

Nobody except for you knows or cares about TWoP. I like to think that I know a thing or two about the Interwebs, and I've never heard of it before.

I've heard of TWoP and I don't even *watch* TV. Your internet-fu is weak, and lacks discipline.

Sam L. said...

Something else I'd never heard of, or don't remember ever hearing of.

eddie willers said...

Speaking of snark, when's Nikki Finke coming back?

Nichevo said...

what is "Television Without Pity?"

richard mcenroe said...

"Is it like the Koch Brothers buying the NYT, keeping it going for 7 years, then liquidating the whole operation?"

O God don't tease us. I'll be in my bunk.

Zedediah Grimm said...

Aw! I learn about all the (possibly) best things on the tubes when they are ready to disappear. A day late and a dollar short ... story of my life.

rcommal said...

Oh, meh At the end of the day, neither smart nor stupid matters. It's about what belongs to whom. Goody, goody to the winners.

Joan said...

Sic transit gloria mundi.

I quit reading TWoP in 2006 when Jacob banned me for daring to point out monumentally stupid remark in a BSG recap.

Delicate flowers, all. Able to dish out, but could never take it.