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

Monday, June 24

The Neighborhood - "Welcome to the Climb" (CBS, 8:00PM ET/PT) (Repeat)
When Gemma decides to fire a teacher at her school, she’s unprepared for the aftermath. Also, Calvin gets a surprise when he faces off with his newspaper carrier.

The Neighborhood - "Welcome to the Barbershop" (CBS, 8:30PM ET/PT) (Repeat)
When Dave drops by Calvin’s longtime barbershop, he’s quickly embraced by its owner and patrons, much to Calvin’s consternation.

Raven's Home - "Lost at Chel-Sea" (Disney Channel, 8:00PM ET/PT)
The kids accidentally get stuck on a cruise ship alone, while Raven and Chelsea desperately try to catch up with them via personal watercraft.

Complete TV Listings


Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows (Week of June 24)

Monday, June 24

  • Tom Hanks (Bosom Buddies) - Watch Tom on a repeat of Jimmy Kimmel Live! at 11:35pm on ABC.
  • Pamela Adlon (Better Things/King of the Hill/The Facts of Life) - Pamela appears on a repeat of Jimmy Kimmel Live! at 11:35pm on ABC.
  • Bashir Salahuddin (GLOW) - Bashir stops by The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon at 11:34pm on NBC.
  • Diallo Riddle (Marlon) - Diallo visits The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon at 11:34pm on NBC.
  • Olivia Munn (Perfect Couples) - Olivia is a guest on Late Night with Seth Meyers at 12:36am on NBC. She also talks about The Rook on ABC's Good Morning America sometime between 7-9am and chats with the ladies of The View on ABC at 11am ET/10am CT-PT.
  • Ramy Youssef (Ramy) - Ramy drops by Late Night with Seth Meyers at 12:36am on NBC.
  • Chelsea Handler (Are You There, Chelsea?) - Chelsea appears on a repeat of The Late Late Show with James Corden at 12:37am on CBS. She will also be on The Talk on CBS at 2pm ET/1pm CT-PT.
  • Eliza Coupe (Rob Riggle's Ski Master Academy/Future Man/Benched/Happy Endings/Scrubs) - Eliza is a guest on a repeat of Last Call with Carson Daly at 1:35am on NBC.
  • Anna Konkle and Maya Erskine (PEN15) - Anna and Maya are guests on a repeat of Last Call with Carson Daly at 1:35am on NBC.
  • Rosie O'Donnell (Gimme a Break!) - Rosie stops by Watch What Happens: Live at 11pm on Bravo.
  • Anthony Anderson (black-ish/Guys with Kids/All About the Andersons) - Anthony visits LIVE! with Kelly and Ryan, so check your listings.
  • George Clooney (Roseanne/The Facts of Life/ E/R) - The Ellen DeGeneres Show has the best moments from the biggest stars, including George, so check your local listings.
  • Esai Morales (The Brink) - Esai appears on a repeat of The Real, so check your local listings.
  • John Ratzenberger (Cheers) - John talks about Toy Story 4 on Home & Family on Hallmark Channel at 10am ET/PT.
  • Seth MacFarlane (Family Guy/American Dad!/The Cleveland Show) - Seth talks about The Loudest Voice on NBC's Today sometime between 7-9am and on the BUILD Series at 10am.
  • Jason Jones (The Detour) - Jason talks about The Detour on NBC's Today in the 9am hour and on New York Live on WNBC in New York at 11:30am ET.
  • Zendaya (K.C. Undercover/Shake It Up) - Zendaya talks about Spider-Man: Far From Home on ABC's Good Morning America sometime between 7-9am.


New on DVD/Blu-ray (April/May/June)

Evening Shade - The Complete Collection Perfect Strangers - The Complete Seventh and Eighth Seasons My Three Sons - The Third Season - Volume One The Brady Bunch - 50th Anniversary The Brady-est TV & Movie Collection Will & Grace (The Revival) - Season Two

04/02 - Archer: Danger Island - The Complete Season Nine
04/09 - You're the Worst - The Complete Fifth Season
04/12 - Evening Shade - The Complete Collection
04/16 - The Big C - The Complete Series (Blu-ray)
05/07 - Baskets - The Complete Season Three
05/13 - I'm Dying Up Here - Season 2
05/13 - My Three Sons - The Third Season - Volume One
05/13 - My Three Sons - The Third Season - Volume Two
05/14 - The Donna Reed Show - Seasons 1-5
05/14 - Petticoat Junction - Seasons 1-3
05/28 - Perfect Strangers - The Complete Seventh and Eighth Seasons (WBShop.com)
05/28 - South Park - The Complete Twenty-Second Season (Blu-ray)
06/04 - The Brady Bunch - 50th Anniversary The Brady-est Brady Bunch TV & Movie Collection
06/18 - Will & Grace (The Revival) - Season Two (Blu-ray)
More TV DVD Releases / DVD Reviews Archive / SitcomsOnline Digest


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