Here's to the Death of Broadcast

As ER exits, big networks are flatlining — and it's helping good TV thrive

Illustration by John Ueland; Stamos: James Stenson / NBC; Clooney: Pascal Le Segretain / Getty; Tierney: Paul Drinkwater / NBC; James Stenson: NBC

When ER goes off the air April 2, we will say goodbye to more than the medical staffers who have lived, loved and been tragically killed off for sweeps over the years. We will also say goodbye to the era of broadcast TV it represented: the era of big shows, big audiences and big money.

In 1994, when ER debuted, NBC, CBS and ABC ruled TV. The fourth network, Fox, had no top-20 shows. Cable was flourishing but was hardly a threat. Only a handful of dorks (like me) were using "graphical user interfaces" like Netscape to look at something called...

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