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This image released by Netflix shows Kevin Spacey in a scene from the Netflix original series, "House of Cards," an adaptation of a British classic. (AP Photo/Netflix, Melinda Sue Gordon)

When Bruce Springsteen lamented back in 1992 about "57 Channels (And Nothin' On)" none of us could have imagined a time when viewers were bombarded by hundreds of broadcast, cable and, now, Web-produced options. And with the recent news that Microsoft and Yahoo are ready to produce original programming, the battle for America's eyeballs is hotter than ever.

"It's more like 15 million channels now and a lot of things are on," jokes Andrew Wallenstein, who covers all things digital for Variety. "It's pretty mind-boggling."

But is it good for overwhelmed consumers, who at the end of the day, just want to relax and lose themselves in a quality show, be it on their TV screen, computer, tablet or phone?

FILE - This image released by Netflix shows Taylor Schilling, left, and Uzo Aduba in a scene from "Orange Is the New Black." Season two debuts on
FILE - This image released by Netflix shows Taylor Schilling, left, and Uzo Aduba in a scene from "Orange Is the New Black." Season two debuts on Netflix on June 6, 2014. (AP Photo/Netflix, Paul Schiraldi, file) ( Paul Schiraldi )

Matt Roush, the longtime senior critic for TV Guide, is tasked with keeping tabs on a multitude of shows, so he knows firsthand how frazzled consumers can be.

"It's both exciting and terrifying," he says of the ever-growing glut. Exciting because new pipelines "possibly open the door for something we might not see on traditional TV." Terrifying because "we're being torn in all directions."

"There's only so much bingeing you can do in your life," he says.

Microsoft and Yahoo are the latest technology companies looking to disrupt the traditional model of video delivery by creating original content. It would bring them into competition not just with cable programmers and broadcasters, but companies like Netflix, Amazon and Hulu, which are already producing their own shows.

As was reported earlier this week, Yahoo wants to produce big-budget comedies, an ambitious step up from the shorter Web series on which the Sunnyvale Internet company has previously focused. Not to be outdone, Yahoo search partner Microsoft has six shows prepared to launch globally in June that will stream through the tech firm's gaming consoles, according to Bloomberg News. The shows include comedies from Seth Green and the team of Sarah Silverman and Michael Cera, as well as a science fiction show about humanoid robot workers.

The Washington tech giant also has a dozen other shows in development under former CBS executive and Danville native Nancy Tellem, who knows how difficult it is these days to break through the clutter.

"This is not an easy business," she told Bloomberg. "There's a huge failure rate. You have to get up to the plate a lot. Hopefully, we can have a higher batting average than most, but it's a long process."

This expansive push comes during a so-called "golden age" of television -- an era that has spawned extraordinary and buzz-worthy shows including HBO's "Game of Thrones," AMC's "Mad Men," and CBS's "The Good Wife," to name a few. It has been such a fruitful period that many cultural observers claim television exceeds motion pictures in terms of creative ambition.

And having more players in the field apparently is fueling some of that creativity. John Landgraf, the Oakland-raised president of the FX Network, recently told a gathering of TV critics that in 2002, when the network launched the groundbreaking crime series, "The Shield," there were 33 scripted shows on basic and premium cable alone. This year, he noted, there will be about 180.

"Competition from Netflix, Amazon, Hulu and others certainly raises the bar," he said. "But if we make a great show, people are still likely to find it and watch it."

Last year, Netflix became the first tech company to break through the clutter when the slick political drama, "House of Cards" earned critical raves and an Emmy nomination for best drama. Netflix also drew a lot of attention with "Orange Is the New Black," an unconventional women's prison comedy.

On the other hand, Amazon failed to make much noise with its first two original comedies, "Alpha House" and "Betas," shows that, according to Wallenstein, were "decent but failed to move the needle very much in terms of buzz." Amazon renewed "Alpha House," a political comedy starring John Goodman, for a second season, but canceled "Betas," a show set in Silicon Valley. Not to be deterred, Amazon recently ordered six new series, including a drama from "X Files" creator Chris Carter.

Roush says the glut of programming has created a sense of "anxiety" among some pop culture devotees who can't possibly keep up with it all.

"There's this fear that you're missing out on something," he says. "You hear people raving about 'The Walking Dead,' or some other show, and you feel like you're not in the know. Even if you really love TV, you can't help but think that there's already too much of it and it's not going to stop."

And that doesn't even take into account the expense that goes into keeping up with the deluge.

"There's also the anxiety that comes with your bloated cable bill, or the cost of all the services you subscribe to, like Netflix or Hulu," he says. "My god, if Twitter starts making its own shows, I'll throw in the towel."

Follow Chuck Barney at Twitter.com/chuckbarney and Facebook.com/bayareanewsgroup.chuckbarney.