Michael Wolff’s latest book, Television is the New Television, reads almost like a Twitter feed. The book itself is a fairly quick read, clocking in at about two hundred pages, and the chapters are fairly short. What really gives it the Twitter feel is Wolff’s writing style of recapping news events with his opinion.
Wolff’s main thesis is that television, with its impression-based and unskippable advertising, will continue to reign supreme over online, with frequently uses pay-per-click and is easily ignored. While digital media is certainly in its infancy and it can take years for businesses to find a stable revenue plan, Wolff already seems prepared to bury online in a grave and declare the tried-and-true system of television the future.
Wolff extols the values of all elements of television, including the cable bundle. Wolff does lay out impressive arguments, including one that refutes recent pushes to unbundle cable, but his main weakness is the length, or lack thereof. One chapter lasts five pages, hardly enough space to make an argument and then back it up.
Thanks to the short chapters, the book can be quickly read. The problem is though that if can take several reads or one read and ponderings in order to fully understand Wolff’s arguments and points. Wolff constructs the book in an interesting way. He packs roughly the first half of the book with examples of new media, typically the failures. His arguments come more like a Trojan Horse, sneaking in with other information. However, the points sometimes come so subtly the reader is unaware they were even made! Indeed, writing this review has led us to sit and think about what Wolff’s actual point was. Truthfully, his title was the clearest indication of a thesis.
VERDICT: While his propositions are sometimes unclear, Wolff’s analysis of the media landscape adds to the book’s case. We rate this a Probably Buy.