Television programming is considerably different when compared to when I was a boy.
Back then, there was only ABC, CBS, NBC, and the public broadcasting station. If a person had said back then that people would some day have access to hundreds of channels like we do now, that person would have been greeted with a lot of skepticism.
Cable television in my childhood consisted only of the television stations in Nashville, Chattanooga, and Huntsville, Ala.
Since then, obviously, everything has changed. Just about every type of programming imaginable is only a click of the remote away.
While that can be both good and bad, there can be no debate that television programming gives us instant access to information that was not easily available in the past.
For example, The Weather Channel is a staple of just about every household I know.
If I am at a friend's house watching football all afternoon, we usually take a few trips around the dial to see what else is on. And during those trips, we usually stop at The Weather Channel to see what they are talking about.
It doesn't matter if it is a beautiful, sunny day. We will take the time to check out the forecast and see the local radar. It is almost as if it has been encoded in our DNA that we must take a peek at that channel more than once in an afternoon.
I do the same thing at home. During an evening of television watching, I usually stop at The Weather Channel several times even if they are talking about something I saw them discuss an hour ago.
I am at a loss to explain why I do that, but we all do things that we can't explain.
Before you scoff at me, it is important to note that I must not be the only person who does this. Because of the way this channel draws in viewers like a moth to a flame, the channel has become extremely valuable.
The Reuters news agency recently reported that The Weather Channel’s privately held parent company is putting it up for sale.
The asking price? $5 billion. That's right. That is billion with a 'b.'
Media properties rarely get sold, and because of this, they are very valuable when they hit the market, according to the Reuters story. The story stated one of the reasons the channel has value is because of the way it deals with time-sensitive weather coverage.
After all, if a person fears there is violent weather in the area, he needs information now, and what better resource than a channel that is solely dedicated to weather. Am I the only one who has watched the channel when a hurricane is making landfall just to see if meteorologist Jim Cantore is getting smacked around by the winds?
The channel is able to give blow by blow status reports when big weather events are happening.
Because of this time-sensitive value, viewers are less likely to record the channel's shows and fast forward through all the commercials when they watch it. As you might imagine, this makes the channel very popular with advertisers.
However, none of this really explains why I have such a fixation with the channel. I just checked the current conditions, and it is partly cloudy with a temperature of 52 degrees.
I checked it about an hour ago, and it was the same. And it probably will be the same when I check it before I go to bed.
Maybe this has more to do with the general blandness of television programming than anything else. Other than when there is a major weather threat, The Weather Channel is pretty monotonous.
Then again, most of the rest of television programming is monotonous, too. Bruce Springsteen once sang that there is "57 channels and nothing on."
Well, the number of channels has increased, but the song remains the same. The Weather Channel is about as exciting as everything else that we watch.
Most reality shows are dull, and The Weather Channel is the ultimate reality show. It plays out every day and has a direct impact on us all.
So, I guess there are worse things on TV to watch.