television without pityI wrote earlier this month about the closure of Collage Video, a pioneering niche online retailer who fell victim to growing competition from Amazon, YouTube and other market forces. The eulogies for them on-line were sentimental, heartfelt, and usually followed by the frank admission that the person simply didn’t shop there anymore.

Well, the market forces struck again this week, as pioneering television recap site Television Without Pity announced that they too were shutting their doors. The site was known for its motto ‘spare the snark, spoil the network’ and it posted gleefully acerbic recaps of television shows.

So, what happened? This USA Today article offers a few clues:

“TWOP’s golden years were the the early 2000s. Back then, people were still using VHS, TiVo was in its infancy, and if you missed a show, you couldn’t catch up the next day via OnDemand or the network’s site. You either read the TWOP recap or you waited for the rerun.”

In short: this is the journalism equivalent of ‘we just don’t shop there anymore.’ The recaps were great fun, but when the site was founded, it wasn’t just about that. They served a functional purpose. If you missed the show, this was your way to catch up. And now? Well, now, that function is superfluous. There are more ways than ever to catch up. So all you are left with is great fun with no functional purpose, and I guess that didn’t bring in the ad dollars.

I also wonder if an aging demographic accounts in part for the lack of traffic. The people my age, the die-hard fans of the site’s heyday, have moved their TV habits to YouTube and Netflix. The younger kids seem more music-oriented these days, and spend most of their online time on YouTube and Spotify. Network television, which was this site’s bread and butter, is simply not the only game in town anymore.

I’ve seen more than one article about this website closure, and nearly all of them follow the same pattern as the ones I saw about Collage Video: damn, that’s sad. I loved those guys. But I have to admit, I didn’t really go there anymore…

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