Friday, July 06, 2007
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 (February)
02/16 - The Andy Griffith Show - The Complete Series
02/16 - The Brady Kids - The Complete Animated Series
02/16 - Girls - The Complete Fourth Season (Blu-ray)
02/16 - Sabrina, the Teenage Witch - The Complete Series
02/16 - Togetherness - The Complete First Season (Blu-ray)
More TV DVD Releases / DVD Reviews Archive / SitcomsOnline Digest
Sitcoms Airing Tonight
Saturday, February 6
Game Shakers - "Shark Explosion" (Nickelodeon, 8:00PM ET/PT)
Triple G's mom Jackie invites the Game Shakers on her yacht to see fireworks. But she and Double G have doubled booked the yacht, causing Dub to compete with her for the kids' affection.
Nicky, Ricky, Dicky & Dawn - "Doggy Door Afternoon" (Nickelodeon, 8:30PM ET/PT)
Squishy Paws runs away when the Quads are home alone and they have an argument they've been having since before they were born: who should be in charge. They must work together to find Squishy Paws before their parents get home.
100 Things to Do Before High School - "Meet Your Idol Thing!" (Nickelodeon, 9:00PM ET/PT)
Our friends set out to meet their idols, but when their carefully laid plans begin to unravel, they realize the importance of patience and recognizing the idols in your everyday life. Guest Stars: Louie Vito, Neil deGrasse Tyson.
Sunday, February 7
- Tina Fey (30 Rock) - Catch Tina on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert at 11:35pm on CBS.
- Adam DeVine (Modern Family/Workaholics) - Adam is a guest on The Late Late Show with James Corden at 12:37am on CBS.
- Brie Larson (United States of Tara/Raising Dad) - Watch Brie on Jimmy Kimmel Live! at 11:35pm on ABC.
- Rebel Wilson (Super Fun Night) - Rebel visits Late Night with Seth Meyers at 12:36am on NBC.
- Fred Savage (The Grinder/Working/The Wonder Years) - Fred appears on Late Night with Seth Meyers at 12:36am on NBC.
- Gillian Jacobs (Community) - Gillian is a guest on Comedy Central's The Daily Show with Trevor Noah at 11pm. She also talks about Love on NBC's Today in the 10am hour.
- Keke Palmer (Scream Queens/True Jackson, VP) - Keke appears on The Nightly Show with Larry Wilmore at 11:30pm on Comedy Central.
- David Koechner (F Is for Family/Hank/The Office) - David will be on @midnight on Comedy Central at midnight.
- Kevin Nealon (Weeds/Hiller and Diller/Champs) - Kevin appears on @midnight on Comedy Central at midnight.
- Jim Jefferies (Legit) - Jim is a guest on @midnight on Comedy Central at midnight.
- Ray Romano (Everybody Loves Raymond) - Ray stops by Conan at 11pm on TBS.
- Julie Bowen (Modern Family) - Julie visits The Ellen DeGeneres Show, so check your local listings.
- Ben Feldman (Superstore/A to Z/Living with Fran) - Ben discusses Superstore on The Meredith Vieira Show (check your local listings) and on People Now.
- Rachael Harris (Surviving Jack/My Boys/Notes from the Underbelly) - Rachael talks about Deadpool on New York Live on WNBC in New York at 12:30pm ET.
- Sherri Shepherd (Less Than Perfect/Sherri) - Sherri takes viewers behind the scenes of the Super Bowl on The View on ABC at 11am ET/10am CT-PT.
- Rhea Seehorn (Whitney/I'm with You) - Rhea talks about Better Call Saul on Home & Family on Hallmark Channel at 10am ET/PT.
- Britt Lower (Man Seeking Woman) - Britt is a guest on Home & Family on Hallmark Channel at 10am ET/PT.