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 (April/May/June)

Diff'rent Strokes - The Complete Fifth Season Father Knows Best - Season Five The Wayans Bros. - The Complete Second Season ALF - The Complete DVD Collection The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air - The Complete Series

04/04 - Diff'rent Strokes - The Complete Fifth Season
04/11 - Father Knows Best - Season Five
04/11 - Schitt's Creek - The Complete Third Season
04/11 - Silicon Valley - The Complete Third Season (Blu-ray)
04/11 - Veep - The Complete Fifth Season
05/02 - Red, White and Blue Collar Sitcoms - Make TV Great Again
05/09 - ALF - The Complete DVD Collection
05/09 - Divorce - The Complete First Season (Blu-ray)
05/09 - The Wayans Bros. - The Complete Second Season
05/16 - The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air - The Complete Series
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
More TV DVD Releases / DVD Reviews Archive / SitcomsOnline Digest


Sitcoms Airing Tonight

Wednesday, June 28

The Goldbergs - "Fonzie Scheme" (ABC, 8:00PM ET/PT) (Repeat)
When Murray is honored as one of Jenkintown’s top businessmen, his plaque is hung on a wall with all of the other honorees. And soon Beverly is dismayed to learn he has no discernable hobbies, and her attempts to help him find some backfire. Meanwhile, Barry creates a scheme stealing golf carts, but the situation goes awry and Erica comes to save the day.

Speechless - "D-A-T-E-- DATE?" (ABC, 8:30PM ET/PT) (Repeat)
JJ meets a new girl at school, an injured gymnast, who must learn to adapt to school life in a wheelchair. JJ shows her the ropes and soon forms a crush. Elsewhere, Ray saves face by claiming a picture of his own nipple on his phone to be a ”sext” from his ”girlfriend.” The plan makes him a hero among the boys at school, but backfires after Maya learns the whole story. Meanwhile, Jimmy teaches Dylan how to properly deal with stress.

Modern Family - "Blindsided" (ABC, 9:00PM ET/PT) (Repeat)
The Dunphys and Pritchett’s are going head-to-head when Luke decides his best chance at getting into college is running for senior class president against Manny. The outcome of this election is even more important to Jay, Gloria and Claire, who prove to be dubious campaign managers. Now that Haley has started her own promotion business, Phil insists on introducing her to marketing guru Merv Schechter (played by Martin Short), who hasn’t seen a stress ball he can’t slap a logo on yet. Meanwhile, Cam finds out his star football player is moving away and makes a rash decision that is going to make home life a little cramped for Mitch and Cam.

American Housewife - "Surprise" (ABC, 9:30PM ET/PT) (Repeat)
Oliver tells his parents that he’s so embarrassed by their modest house that he’d rather not have a birthday party at all. Katie decides to teach him a lesson by ambushing him with a surprise party at home with all his wealthy friends.

The Carmichael Show - "Shoot-Up-Able" (NBC, 9:00PM ET/PT)
Jerrod is forced to tell a police officer what he witnessed during a tragic event.

The Carmichael Show - "Porn Addiction" (NBC, 9:30PM ET/PT) (Repeat)
The family discusses porn addiction after Cynthia's reverend talks about the subject at a service.

Nightcap - "Always a Beard, Never a Bride" (Pop, 8:00PM ET/PT)
Actor Jesse Tyler Ferguson arrives with his guru and inducts the staff into what seems like a cult; TV show host Michael Strahan disappoints Davis when he avoids talking about football. Staci and Penny fight over TV personality Ross Mathews.

Younger - "Post Truth" (TV Land, 10:00PM ET/PT)
Liza deals with the aftermath of coming clean with Kelsey, and Charles tests their synchronicity. Kelsey and Josh become unlikely allies.

Complete TV Listings


Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows (Week of June 26)

Wednesday, June 28

  • Justin Bartha (The New Normal/Teachers ) - Watch Justin on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert at 11:35pm on CBS.
  • Hilary Duff (Younger/Lizzie McGuire) - Hilary visits Late Night with Seth Meyers at 12:36am on NBC. She also appears on a repeat of Rachael Ray, so check your local listings.
  • Leighton Meester (Making History) - Leighton appears on a repeat of The Late Late Show with James Corden at 12:37am on CBS.
  • Eugene Mirman (Bob's Burgers) - Eugene is a guest on a repeat of Last Call with Carson Daly at 1:35am on NBC.
  • Carl Reiner (The Dick Van Dyke Show) - Carl appears on a repeat of Conan at 11pm on TBS.
  • Lauren Lapkus (Are You There, Chelsea?/Clipped) - Lauren is a guest on a repeat of Conan at 11pm on TBS.
  • Amy Poehler (Parks and Recreation) - Amy chats with the ladies of The View on ABC at 11am ET/10am CT-PT. She also opens up about raising boys on People Now at 8:30am.
  • Busy Philipps (Vice Principals/Cougar Town) - Busy guest co-hosts LIVE! with Kelly and Ryan, so check your listings.
  • Carla Gugino (Spin City) - Carla appears on a repeat of Harry, so check your local listings.
  • Billy Gardell (Mike & Molly) - Billy is a guest on a repeat of Harry, so check your local listings.
  • Brandon T. Jackson (Deadbeat) - Brandon appears on a repeat of The Real, so check your local listings.
  • Debi Mazar (Younger/Entourage) and Molly Bernard (Younger) - Debi visits NBC's Today in the 9am hour. Debi and Molly are guests on New York Live on WNBC in New York at 11:30am ET.
  • Bronson Pinchot (Perfect Strangers) - Bronson talks about Battle of the Network Stars on Home & Family on Hallmark Channel at 10am ET/PT.
  • Eric Stonestreet (Modern Family) - Eric will be on ABC's Good Morning America sometime between 7-9am.
  • Steve Carell (The Office) - Steve is a guest on NBC's Today sometime between 7-9am and in the 9am hour.
  • Molly Shannon (Kath & Kim/Cracking Up) - Molly talks about The Little Hours on Access Hollywood Live, so check your local listings.
  • Garcelle Beauvais (The Jamie Foxx Show) - Garcelle talks about Spider-man: Homecoming on Access Hollywood Live, so check your local listings.
  • Jane Lynch (Angel from Hell) - Jane is a guest on Access Hollywood Live, so check your local listings.