So I guess we'd say maybe half of the pre-1970 stations are still with their network.
Interesting that a lot of switching has gone on in the big cities, but in much of the
medium and smaller markets things have remained much the same. I think when
you're in Ashland and selling apples, there is not much desire to suddenly switch
over to oranges.
gregg75, you are on the money. While some would chalk long affiliations up to inertia, I think loyalty for many stations comes down to the need for stability. If a channel changes networks every three or five years or so, the public is likely to give up on it, figuring, "Well, wonder how long I can watch such-and-such show here? Hell, it might wind up on channel so-and-so before it gets cancelled." That's why the mid-90s flippings to FOX posed so much of a headache to a lot of people, but the dust did settle on that, setting the stage for The Simpsons
, and American Idol
to become as part of Americana as anything on the Big Three ever did.
We should take this to another level: are there likely going to be large numbers of switchovers in the near future? I would speculate not, because the industry is so fundamentally changing. The mind-boggling amount of competition for a local station almost puts an iron-clad pressure on it to cling fiercely to an identity, and the networks are about the only thing that can give it, especially to a station running behind in its news ratings. In fact, talk is increasing that the prospect exists that networks might, when TV and the internet eventually merge (and they will, it's just a question of when), drop local stations entirely and go direct, a la
satellite dish reception. Then it will be a question of whether some local stations, particularly weaker ones (probably those that were UHFs for most of their lives) SURVIVE.
That proposition, of course, is worth a thread in and unto itself (probably not in this forum perhaps), but in the meantime, I would very well suggest that we will never see massive affiliation changes again. There is too much danger for local stations to do so.