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 (January)
01/06 - The Cosby Show - Season 5 (Mill Creek)
01/06 - The Cosby Show - Season 6 (Mill Creek)
01/06 - The Cosby Show - Seasons 5 & 6 (Mill Creek)
01/06 - Girls - The Complete Third Season (Blu-ray)
01/06 - Married with Children - Season Seven (Mill Creek)
01/06 - Married with Children - Season Eight (Mill Creek)
01/06 - Married with Children - Seasons Seven and Eight (Mill Creek)
01/13 - The Big House - The Complete Series
01/13 - Episodes - The Third Season
01/13 - The Facts of Life - The Complete Series (Shout! Factory
01/20 - Welcome Back, Kotter - The Complete Second Season
More TV DVD Releases / DVD Reviews Archive / SitcomsOnline Digest
Sitcoms Airing Tonight
Friday, January 30
Last Man Standing - "Eve's Breakup" (ABC, 8:00PM ET/PT)
Although Eve insists she’s OK after her first high school break-up, everyone has an opinion as to how she should deal with her feelings. To take her mind off it, Mike has her tag along to watch sports on Ed’s new 120-inch TV. Also, while shopping for Kristin’s wedding dress, she and Mandy fight over how Kristin broke up with Kyle.
Cristela - "Hypertension" (ABC, 8:30PM ET/PT)
Daniela is worried that Cristela is neglecting her health due to her beyond-busy schedule. Daniela suggests that maybe if Cristela lost a few pounds, she could find herself a husband and ultimately mirror the life Daniela lives now. Cristela retorts by saying she doesn’t want Daniela’s life or her looks, she’s happy with who she is and being career focused. The tables are turned when Daniela coaxes Cristela down to a free clinic to test their blood pressure and it’s revealed Daniela is the one who should be concerned. Meanwhile at the office, Josh tries to impress Trent by volunteering to learn CPR and Maddie decides to teach him a lesson he won’t forget.
Friday, January 30
- Aziz Ansari (Parks and Recreation) - Watch Aziz on The Late Show with David Letterman at 11:35pm on CBS.
- Kaley Cuoco-Sweeting (The Big Bang Theory/8 Simple Rules) - Catch Kaley on a repeat of Jimmy Kimmel Live! at 11:35pm on ABC.
- Adam Pally (The Mindy Project/Happy Endings) - Adam guest co-hosts The Late Late Show at 12:37am on CBS.
- Ben Schwartz (Parks and Recreation/House of Lies) - Ben appears on The Late Late Show at 12:37am on CBS. He will also be on HuffPost Live at 4pm.
- Eric Andre (2 Broke Girls/Don't Trust the B---- in Apartment 23) - Eric visits The Late Late Show at 12:37am on CBS.
- Don Cheadle (The Golden Palace) - Don is a guest on a repeat of The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon at 11:34pm on NBC. Lauren Graham (The Odd Couple/Conrad Bloom/Townies) - Lauren is a guest on a repeat of Late Night with Seth Meyers at 12:36am on NBC.
- Rainn Wilson (The Office) - Rainn appears on a repeat of Late Night with Seth Meyers at 12:36am on NBC.
- Tony Danza (Taxi/Who's the Boss?) - Tony talks about his return to Broadway, rumors of a Taxi reunion and which team he's rooting for in the Super Bowl on The Meredith Vieira Show, so check your local listings.
- Sarah Hyland (Modern Family) - Sarah visits The Talk on CBS at 2pm ET/1pm CT-PT.
- Jim O'Heir (Parks and Recreation) - Jim talks about the final season of Parks and Recreation on Home & Family on Hallmark Channel at 10am ET/PT.
- Emeril Lagasse (Emeril) - Emeril gives great party recipes on ABC's Good Morning America sometime between 7-9am.