While satellite technology and huge international networks triggered the globalization of the TV market, wide screens, and Dolby Surround technology revolutionized the filmic realization, making television a serious rival of cinema and America the biggest player in the TV business. With respect to these changes, the first part of this paper describes the TV industry, its program policy, as well as political and economic influences on the medium. Exploring the inherent dynamics of serial narratives, it identifies common strategies to increase viewing rates. In a further step, my paper approaches the interdependence between television and its viewers, discussing a recent ORF audience study. Along with the effects of series characters' role-model function, their stereotyping and U.S. shows' status as cultural trendsetters are discussed. The second part of this paper focuses on crime series. In order to show to what extent the genre has changed since the 1970s, the current CBS success show CSI Las Vegas (2000-) is compared to the NBC classic Columbo (1968-2003). After a detailed description of CSI's televisual qualities (such as camera work, editing and sound) the series' episode structure is analyzed. This also illustrates how the series' tension arch and flow of information are optimized in order to keep viewers from zapping. Finally, this paper discusses the ideological and sociocultural problematic of such shows' detailed depiction of extreme violence and sex. Considering television as a mirror of society, it answers the questions why this format appeals to such a huge audience and where this trend could lead us.