Written by: Joe Bartolotta
TV networks are having a hard time replacing canceled sporting events and live TV with things people want to watch. As new documentaries and scripted programs have been put on hold due to the coronavirus, network commissioners are looking to the past for inspiration – effectively creating nostalgia viewing. New programs are being pieced together out of clips from old movies, newscasts, interviews, documentaries, and footage of major events and random shots of people and places.
Getty Images, owner of the world’s biggest commercial film archive, is working with several TV companies that have pivoted to using more archived content. They’ve become almost an extension to the creative teams at production companies, helping them create dramatic and inspiring narratives. A+E Networks, which owns A&E, History channel, Lifetime, ViceTV, and a handful of others is one of the major TV companies utilizing this archived content. Dan Korn, vice president of programming at A+E Networks, says that there is a clear appetite for nostalgia viewing and escapism during this lockdown.
While all this archived content might hold us over for now, eventually we’re going to need something new, Looking towards the future, it’s totally likely that the pandemic era will become incorporated into the fabric of our favorite shows. Though it might sound strange thinking about TV characters wearing face masks and practicing social distancing, the pandemic is too transformative to not acknowledge. And if this way of life becomes our new normal, it’s hard to see how television shows could avoid reflecting it in some way.