Before the Internet Boom: How Television Captivated Audiences

The first television was first successfully demonstrated in San Francisco on September 7th, 1927.

The booming introduction of television into American homes occurred in the early 1950’s, when 9% of homes with televisions in 1950 skyrocketed to 56% in 1954 and 87% by 1960 (Stephens, 2015). This graph clearly demonstrates the insane exponential growth of the television market. 42,000,000 homes had bought televisions in just a decade; since 1978, at least 98% of homes have owned a television every single year (Stephens, 2015).

The early decades of television were dominated by sitcoms, shows like “I Love Lucy” (First episode of I Love Lucy) and “The Andy Griffith Show” were watched by millions of families. “Saturday Night Live“, “M.A.S.H.“, and “Cheers” grew massively in popularity throughout the 70’s and 80’s, while “Seinfeld” and “The Simpsons” ruled the category of greatest television shows in the 90’s.

The Andy Griffith Show

Image result for seinfeldSeinfeld

However, interspersed throughout the decades of television comedy, there were shows like The Twilight Zone and Star Trek,, which started to draw more captivating, serious viewers to the television screen. Some people liked to be entertained through comedy, others liked to be entertained through mystery, but everyone liked to be entertained. Television sparked the creation of the now trillion dollar industry.

The first generation of television entertained audiences through situational comedy and science fiction. The second generation was captivated by crime, drama, and mystery. While there were the occasional hit sitcom, like Friends, the audiences at the turn of the millennium embraced the revolutionary introduction of crime into television. More and more teenagers and young adults were bored of usual comedy, and were enthralled by science fiction and crime.

People were fascinated by new works of art that changed the way audiences were entertained. Shows like The Wire, The X-Files, and Law & Order had popular longevity which kept Americans entertained for years. Argued as the greatest show ever, The Sopranos, this crime saga kicked off the golden age of television. It changed the world; they were able to show how much connected and passionate storytelling could be brought to the television world through its deeply broken characters.

Image result for sopranos

(The Sopranos Final Scene)

How did these laughable sitcoms, science-fiction marvels and fascinating crime dramas  influence some of the greatest TV shows of the Internet age? How did the Internet once again revolutionize the entertainment industry? How did new genres like reality TV and sophisticated animation come about through new audiences?

These are all questions to be discussed next time: The Uprising of Television Show Communities on the Internet. If you enjoy Breaking Bad, The Walking Dead, LOST, South Park, Jersey Shore, or The Bachelor, (and many other shows), be sure to learn how the Internet helped popularize each of these modern television shows here!





1. Stephens, Mitchell (February 6, 2015). “History of Television”. New York University. Retrieved March 6, 2017.

2. Sheffield, Rob (September 21, 2016). “100 Greatest TV Shows of All Time”. Retrieved March 6, 2017.


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