Friday, July 06, 2007

SitcomsOnline.com Special: Networks Selling Out?

SitcomsOnline.com Special
Networks Selling Out?
By: Seth Thrasher

For some time now, there has been a lot of talk regarding networks, such as TV Land, GSN, USA Network, etc. "selling out" – that is to say that the network shifts its programming practices from its original or most popular style to a different one, replacing fan favorite programs with others, etc. A lot is made of this as we, as fans of the television genre, want to continue to enjoy our favorite programs indefinitely.

Something that gets lost in this emotional attachment, though, is that at the end of the day these networks are businesses. And businesses in the television industry, for better or worse, have a responsibility to its advertisers, and to its owners and shareholders, to deliver the largest viewership possible, the largest viewership among the advertisers desired target group possible, and to operate in a manner that makes the company the most money.

One example is Nick at Nite. Every other night is a marathon of The Fresh Prince of Bel Air or Roseanne. Many fans aren't happy with this in the least bit – they long for the days of when the channel ran shows like I Love Lucy, Taxi, I Dream of Jeannie, The Mary Tyler Moore Show, Happy Days, etc. That's a nice sentiment to have, but ultimately, Nick at Nite does wonderful ratings airing shows like Fresh Prince and Roseanne, particularly among the groups their advertisers want to target. I guarantee you if they could get the same ratings airing The Odd Couple as they could Fresh Prince, you'd get to see Felix and Oscar just as much as you see Dan and Roseanne.

People complain as though networks owe them to run these shows – unfortunately, one small reality of the television industry negates this; unless you're part of a household that reports viewing data to Nielsen, what you’re watching – and what you want to watch...really doesn’t matter as much as it possibly should. It's a flaw in the Nielsen system – if 10 Nielsen viewers are watching Fresh Prince, and 1000 non-Nielsen viewers are watching Murphy Brown, the data reported to networks – and advertisers – indicates all of those 1000 people are in fact watching...Fresh Prince. Is it right? Not necessarily. But it's the best measurement system the industry has at the moment.

This system, and the data it produces, is why networks ultimately have to "betray their vision." For better or worse their loyalties lie with the bottom line. If the ratings data says that airing nothing but Fresh Prince, Roseanne, and The Cosby Show will put more viewers – and more young viewers – in front of the TV than WKRP in Cincinnati, Bob Newhart, and Laverne & Shirley then that's what they'll run.

They're not selling out, or whatever you want to call it. A lot of the people in this business really DO care about television. In order to remain a viable network, they have to make money. In order to make money, they have to make advertisers happy. In order to make advertisers happy, they have to deliver the most viewers possible per timeslot, and with any luck, the most of the specific group the advertiser is trying to target. And in order to attract the most viewers, sometimes a channel will have to run its most popular programs often, in order to maximize these things. It is a sad reality of this industry, and for better or worse it is not likely to change any time soon.

Agree or disagree with Seth? Discuss it here.


Sitcoms Airing Tonight

Wednesday, October 18

The Goldbergs - "Revenge o' the Nerds" (ABC, 8:00PM ET/PT)
With the children growing up, Beverly decides to reinvent herself and quits being a substitute teacher. She decides to focus her energy on going to night school so she can eventually own her own business. Murray doesn’t like change or things costing money, so he convinces her to get a perm instead. Meanwhile, Erica struggles to balance her academic and social life in college and needs Adam’s assistance.

Speechless - "T-R-- TRAINING D-A-- DAY" (ABC, 8:30PM ET/PT)
Jimmy takes JJ camping to give him “the talk,” Maya trains a ragtag group of new aides, and sparks fly between Dylan and Ray’s bully.

Modern Family - "Sex, Lies & Kickball" (ABC, 9:00PM ET/PT)
Jay’s best friend, Shorty, is back from Costa Rica and stays at the house so they can catch up and reconnect. However, Shorty is spending more time with Gloria and seems to be avoiding Jay. Meanwhile, Alex is ready to shed her good-girl image and is going to prove to Claire that her relationship with Ben is definitely a sexual relationship.

American Housewife - "The Lice Storm" (ABC, 9:30PM ET/PT)
When Anna-Kat brings home a lice infestation, Katie uses it to force bonding time with Taylor. Greg attempts to bond with Oliver (and avoid lice) by camping in the backyard, but Greg becomes concerned when Oliver keeps ditching their campout to be with their new sleazy neighbor named Spencer.

You're the Worst - "A Bunch of Hornballs" (FXX, 10:00PM ET/PT)
Jimmy goes out of town for a Romance/Erotica fiction convention while Gretchen throws a divorce party for Lindsay, leading to an unintended deepening of Gretchen's relationship with Boone. Meanwhile, Edgar's friend Max encourages him to overspend on party planning.

Complete TV Listings


Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows (Week of October 16)

Wednesday, October 18

  • Paul Shaffer (A Year at the Top) - Paul sits in with Cleto and The Cletones on Jimmy Kimmel Live! at 11:35pm on ABC.
  • Kaitlin Olson (The Mick/It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia) - Kaitlin is a guest on a repeat of Late Night with Seth Meyers at 12:36am on NBC.
  • Mindy Kaling (The Mindy Project/The Office) - Mindy appears on a repeat of The Late Late Show with James Corden at 12:37am on CBS.
  • Olivia Munn (Perfect Couples) - Olivia is a guest on a repeat of The Late Late Show with James Corden at 12:37am on CBS.
  • James Van Der Beek (What Would Diplo Do?/Friends with Better Lives/Don't Trust the B---- in Apartment 23) - James appears on a repeat of Conan at 11pm on TBS.
  • Valerie Bertinelli (Hot in Cleveland/CafĂ© Americain/One Day at a Time) - Valerie visits Watch What Happens: Live at 11pm on Bravo.
  • Woody Harrelson (Cheers) and Rob Reiner (All in the Family) - Woody and Rob chat with the ladies of The View on ABC at 11am ET/10am CT-PT. They also talk about LBJ on the AOL Build Show at 2:30pm.
  • Jay Pharoah (White Famous) - Jay appears on The Talk on CBS at 2pm ET/1pm CT-PT.
  • Laura Dern (F Is for Family/Enlightened) - Laura stops by The Ellen DeGeneres Show, so check your local listings.
  • Kim Fields (The Facts of Life/Living Single) - Kim talks about A Question of Faith on ABC's Good Morning America sometime between 7-9am. She will also be on The Real, so check your local listings.
  • Pooch Hall (The Game/Accidentally on Purpose) - Pooch guest co-hosts The Real, so check your local listings.
  • Kimberly Williams-Paisley (According to Jim) - Kimberly talks about the Hallmark Movies & Mysteries original Darrow & Darrow on Steve, so check your local listings.
  • Liz Gillies (Sex&Drugs&Rock&Roll/Victorious) - Liz opens up about the Dynasty reboot on the People Now at 8:30am.
  • Melissa Joan Hart (Melissa & Joey/Sabrina, the Teenage Witch/Clarissa Explains It All) - Melissa talks about her new Lifetime movie The Watcher in the Woods on NBC's Today in the 10am hour, on the AOL Build Show at 3:30pm and on New York Live on WNBC in New York at 11:30am ET.
  • David Arquette (In Case of Emergency/Parenthood) - David is a guest on Home & Family on Hallmark Channel at 10am ET/PT.
  • Patrice Lovely (Love Thy Neighbor) - Patrice appears on Home & Family on Hallmark Channel at 10am ET/PT.
  • Jeff Garlin (The Goldbergs/Curb Your Enthusiasm) - Jeff can be heard on The Morning Mash Up on SiriusXM at 10:50am.
  • Frankie Muniz (Malcolm in the Middle) - Frankie is a guest on Access Hollywood Live, so check your local listings.
  • Mark Feuerstein (9JKL/Good Morning, Miami/Conrad Bloom/Fired Up) - Mark appears on Access Hollywood Live, so check your local listings.


New on DVD/Blu-ray (June/July/August)

Father Knows Best - Season Six Diff'rent Strokes - The Complete Sixth Season Alice - The Complete Fifth Season Rhoda - Season Four Brooklyn Nine-Nine - Season Four

06/13 - The Andy Griffith Show - Return to Mayberry
06/13 - That's My Mama - The Complete Series
06/20 - Workaholics - The Final (Seventh) Season
06/20 - Workaholics - The Complete Series
06/27 - The Jamie Foxx Show - The Complete Third Season
07/04 - Superstore - Season Two
07/18 - Father Knows Best - Season Six
07/25 - Diff'ernt Strokes - The Complete Sixth Season
07/25 - Girls - The Final (Sixth) Season (Blu-ray)
08/01 - Alice - The Complete Fifth Season (WBShop.com)
08/01 - Crashing - The Complete First Season (Blu-ray)
08/15 - Rhoda - Season Four
08/22 - Brooklyn Nine-Nine - Season Four
08/29 - Will & Grace - Season One (Universal)
More TV DVD Releases / DVD Reviews Archive / SitcomsOnline Digest