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.


New on DVD/Blu-ray (September)

New Girl - The Complete Season Three The Goldbergs - The Complete First Season The Big Bang Theory - The Complete Seventh Season Brooklyn Nine-Nine - Season One How I Met Your Mother - The Ninth and Legendary Final Season

Modern Family - The Complete Fifth Season Mom - The Complete First Season Mike & Molly - The Complete Fourth Season

09/02 - Benson - Season 1 (Mill Creek) / Season 2 / Seasons 1 & 2
09/02 - The Dick Van Dyke Show - Halloween Episodes Collection
09/02 - It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia - The Complete Season Nine
09/02 - The League - The Complete Season Five
09/02 - New Girl - The Complete Season Three
09/02 - Soap - Season 1 (Mill Creek) / Season 2 / Seasons 1 & 2
09/02 - What's Happening!! - Season 1 (Mill Creek) / Season 2 / Seasons 1 & 2
09/09 - The Goldbergs - The Complete First Season
09/11 - Growing Up Fisher - Season One
09/16 - About a Boy - Season One
09/16 - Awkward - Season 3
09/16 - The Big Bang Theory - The Complete Seventh Season (Blu-ray/DVD)
09/16 - South Park - Season 17 (Blu-ray)
09/23 - Brooklyn Nine-Nine - Season One
09/23 - How I Met Your Mother - The Ninth and Legendary Final Season / The Complete Series
09/23 - Mama's Family - The Complete Fifth Season / The Complete Collection
09/23 - Modern Family - The Complete Fifth Season
09/23 - Mom - The Complete First Season
09/30 - The Donna Reed Show - Season 1 (MPI)
09/30 - Mike & Molly - The Complete Fourth Season
Other TV Series:
09/02 - Grey's Anatomy - The Complete Tenth Season
09/09 - Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. - The Complete First Season (Blu-ray)
09/16 - CSI: Crime Scene Investigation - The Fourteenth Season
09/16 - Castle - The Complete Sixth Season
09/23 - Nashville - The Complete Second Season
09/23 - Scandal - The Complete Third Season
More TV DVD Releases / DVD Reviews Archive / SitcomsOnline Digest


Sitcoms Airing Tonight

Tuesday, September 23

New Girl - "Dice" (Fox, 9:00PM ET/PT)
Schmidt tutors Jess in the not-so-fine-art of dating via mobile apps. Meanwhile, Winston is desperate to make a good impression on his fellow police cadets, which backfires when Nick, Coach and Cece show up at a party thrown by fellow officers.

The Mindy Project - "Annette Castellano Is My Nemesis" (Fox, 9:30PM ET/PT)
It’s Mindy’s time to shine when Danny’s mom (guest star Rhea Perlman) comes to the city and Mindy is determined to win her approval. Meanwhile, Morgan tries to stand up for himself in his relationship with Tamra (Xosha Roquemore).

Complete TV Listings


Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows (Week of September 22) (All times ET unless noted)

Tuesday, September 23

  • Lauren Graham (Townies/Conrad Bloom) - Catch Lauren on The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson at 12:37am on CBS.
  • Ed Weeks (The Mindy Project) - Ed is a guest on The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson at 12:37am on CBS.
  • Jason Mantzoukas (The League) - Jason appears on Last Call with Carson Daly at 1:35am on NBC.
  • Ike Barinholtz (The Mindy Project) - Ike stops by Conan at 11pm on TBS.
  • Kim Cattrall (Sex and the City) - Tune in to see Kim on Watch What Happens: Live at 11pm on Bravo.
  • Andrea Martin (Working the Engels) - Andrea chats with the ladies of The View on ABC at 11am ET/10am CT-PT.
  • Jesse Tyler Ferguson (Modern Family/The Class) - Jesse is a guest on The Ellen DeGeneres Show, so check your local listings.
  • Wendi McClendon-Covey (The Goldbergs/Rules of Engagement/Reno 911!) - Wendi appears on The Ellen DeGeneres Show, so check your local listings.
  • Michael Strahan (Brothers) - Michael and his parents are guests on Rachael Ray, so check your local listings.
  • Geena Davis (The Geena Davis Show/Sara/Buffalo Bill) - Geena is interviewed by Norah O'Donnell on CBS This Morning sometime between 7-9am.
  • Debra Messing (Will Grace) - Debra talks about her new show The Mysteries of Laura, growing up in the same place as Meredith and even participating in a former Junior Miss competition on The Meredith Vieira Show, so check your local listings.
  • Haley Joel Osment (Thunder Alley/The Jeff Foxworthy Show) - Haley Joel will be on Good Day New York on WNYW-Fox5 in New York between 7-10am.
  • Anthony Anderson (black-ish/Guys with Kids/All About the Andersons and Tracee Ellis Ross (black-ish/Reed Between the Lines/Girlfriends) - Anthony and Tracee talk about their new show black-ish on 106 & Park on BET at 3pm.