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)

The Big Bang Theory - The Complete Ninth Season Newhart - The Complete Sixth Season 2 Broke Girls - The Complete Fifth Season Family Matters - The Complete Eighth Season Modern Family - The Complete Season 7

09/06 - Coach - Season One (Mill Creek) / Season Two / Seasons One and Two
09/06 - South Park - The Complete Ninteenth Season (Blu-ray)
09/13 - The Big Bang Theory - The Complete Ninth Season (Blu-ray)
09/13 - Newhart - The Complete Sixth Season
09/20 - 2 Broke Girls - The Complete Fifth Season
09/20 - Family Matters - The Complete Eighth Season
09/20 - Modern Family - The Complete Season 7
09/20 - Veep - Season 5
09/27 - The Wonder Years - Season Six
More TV DVD Releases / DVD Reviews Archive / SitcomsOnline Digest


Sitcoms Airing Tonight

Sunday, September 25

Family Guy - "A Lot Going on Upstairs" (Fox, 7:00PM ET/PT) (Repeat)
When Stewie refuses to sleep in his own bed because of nightmares, Peter can’t stand it, so he goes to sleep in the attic. Peter turns the attic into a man cave and all of the guys begin hanging out there, which makes Lois incredibly angry. Meanwhile, Brian helps Stewie overcome his fears by building a device to go into his nightmares and defeat his demons.

Bob's Burgers - "Flu-oise" (Fox, 7:30PM ET/PT)
When the youngest Belcher comes down with an epic case of the flu, Linda has a mishap as she tries to deliver Louise’s favorite toy to her daughter’s bedside. After Louise vows that she will never forgive her family for their mistake, she falls into a wild fever dream filled with familiar faces, zany musical numbers and a crazy adventure.

The Simpsons - "Monty Burns' Fleeing Circus" (Fox, 8:00PM ET/PT)
When Springfield is burned to the ground, the Simpsons beg Mr. Burns to fund its rebuilding. Burns agrees – with one condition: he gets to put on a variety show at the Springfield Bowl.

Son of Zorn - "Defender of Teen Love" (Fox, 8:30PM ET/PT)
After embarrassing Alan in front of his crush, Nancy, Zorn uses the Stone of Sight to spy on the girl for his son. Meanwhile, Edie is determined to move on and forces Zorn to finally move his old boxes out of her garage and into his own apartment.

Family Guy - "The Boy in the Band" (Fox, 9:00PM ET/PT)
Stewie and Brian form a children’s band that quickly rises to fame until they let a girl get between them and drive the band apart. Meanwhile, Peter and Lois insist that Chris gets a job so he takes a job managing Quagmire’s sex life as his personal assistant.

The Last Man on Earth - "General Breast Theme with Cobras" (Fox, 9:30PM ET/PT)
The safety of Tandy and the group is in jeopardy as armed intruders storm the Malibu beach near their home, and no one can agree on what to do. While Melissa takes drastic action, Tandy gets a new lesson in fashion.

K.C. Undercover - "In Too Deep 2" (Disney Channel, 8:00PM ET/PT)
The Volunteens give K.C. an assignment that pits her against Craig and his job of protecting the ambassador.

Bizaardvark - "Pretty-Con" (Disney Channel, 8:30PM ET/PT)
The annual beauty convention Pretty-Con comes to Vuuugle and Amelia obsesses with beating out a beauty guru for the Golden Powder Puff Award; Paige and Frankie agree to help so they can meet the host and debut their music video.

Complete TV Listings


Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows (Week of September 26)

Sunday, September 25

  • Mark Consuelos (Hope & Faith) - Catch Mark on Watch What Happens: Live at 11pm on Bravo.
Monday, September 26
  • Zach Galifianakis (Baskets) - Watch Zach on on Jimmy Kimmel Live! at 11:35pm on ABC.
  • Rob Lowe (The Grinder/Parks and Recreation) - Rob appears on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert at 11:35pm on CBS. He also talks about Code Black on CBS This Morning sometime between 7-9am and on LIVE! with Kelly, so check your listings. He will be on New York Live on WNBC in New York at 12:30pm ET.
  • Kal Penn (We Are Men/How I Met Your Mother) - Kal is a guest on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert at 11:35pm on CBS.
  • Will Forte (The Last Man on Earth) - Will visits Late Night with Seth Meyers at 12:36am on NBC. He will also be on LIVE! with Kelly, so check your listings.
  • Norm Macdonald (Norm) - Norm stops by The Late Late Show with James Corden at 12:37am on CBS.
  • Margaret Cho (All-American Girl) - Margaret appears on @midnight on Comedy Central at midnight.
  • Jaleel White (Family Matters/Grown Ups) - Jaleel is a guest on @midnight on Comedy Central at midnight.
  • Patton Oswalt (The Goldbergs/The King of Queens) - Patton visits Conan at 11pm on TBS.
  • Whoopi Goldberg (Whoopi/Bagdad Cafe) - Whoopi drops by Harry, so check your local listings.
  • Kristin Chenoweth (Kristin) - Kristin performs live on NBC's Today sometime between 7-9am. She also talks about her new album on the AOL Build Show at 3pm.
  • Sutton Foster (Younger) - Sutton talks about Younger on NBC's Today in the 10am hour.
  • The Cast of Younger) - Sutton Foster, Debi Mazar, Hilary Duff, Nico Tortorella, Peter Hermann, Miriam Shor and Molly Bernard are guests on the AOL Build Show at 2:15pm.