I couldn't understand why Speed's programming had become progressively more brain-dead over the past few years. Not just the "How To" programs that shill for aftermarket products, or Tommy Kendall's "road tests," and the like. I mean the idiot reality shows, of which there were more and more. And which themselves became sillier and sillier. I don't follow "media"or study it, so it was a mystery to me.
The answer was supplied by a media critic who I happened to see (on TV) last weekend. He was explaining the decline of network news, and the rise of dumbed-down cable news channels. But he used Comedy Central and Lifetime as examples. Nobody can get, or goes for, a mass audience any more. That's why network news operations, with an audience of about 9 million, are shadows of their former selves--and advertising revenue. By contrast, if a cable news show can get 1 million viewers, it's doing pretty well. So today, the strategy is to micro-target an audience and "serve" the living daylights out of it. Thus Comedy Central targets "males aged 18-24." Lifetime targets "females, aged 44-60." And so on. That way your advertisers know exactly who's watching, and can micro-target their message. The lower ad rates make it practical for them to produce inexpensive commercials, and run them endlessly on your micro-targeted channel.
Viola! Speed Channel targets males, aged 18-24. (Come to think of it, I don't watch Comedy Central as much as I used to. Same reason, same demographics.) My bet is that Fox Sports 2 (or whatever they call it) will be "All Stunts, All The Time." Bread and circuses, with the emphasis on circuses.