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 (July)

Archie Bunker's Place - Season One (Mill Creek) Married with Children - The Complete Series (Mill Creek) Playing House - Season 1 Growing Pains - The Complete Fifth Season WKRP in Cincinnati - The Complete Third Season

07/07 - Archie Bunker's Place - Season One (Mill Creek)
07/07 - Barney Miller - The Final (Eighth) Season
07/07 - Married with Children - Season Eleven (Mill Creek)
07/07 - Married with Children - The Complete Series (Mill Creek)
07/07 - The Michael J. Fox Show - The Complete First Season
07/07 - Playing House - Season 1
07/14 - Growing Pains - The Complete Fifth Season (WBShop.com)
07/14 - WKRP in Cincinnati - The Complete Third Season
07/28 - Mama's Family - Mama's Favorites - Season 7
More TV DVD Releases / DVD Reviews Archive / SitcomsOnline Digest


Sitcoms Airing Tonight

Wednesday, July 29


The Middle - "The Waiting Game" (ABC, 8:00PM ET/PT) (Repeat)
Sue tries to clear her head by making potpourri Sue-venir sachets to give away to her classmates, while Frankie is on pins and needles as they nervously wait to find out if Sue has been accepted to any of the colleges she applied to. Meanwhile, Brick kicks Axl out of the bedroom and into the dining room as he attempts to find some peace and serenity so that he can attempt to write a novel, and Mike refuses to admit that he was rocking out in his car and singing at the top of his lungs – even after his whole family witnessed him doing it.

The Goldbergs - "I Drank the Mold" (ABC, 8:30PM ET/PT) (Repeat)
During his birthday sleepover Beverly has planned, Adam’s friend Garry shares his dad’s home brewed beer and gets everyone sick. Many of the parents believe Adam is a bad influence and forbid his friends from hanging out with him. Meanwhile, Murray tells Barry and Erica he will buy a new CD player only if they are able to write the greatest song ever. What they write is horrible but when Murray hears the song, he recognizes Erica’s singing talent and her love of music.

Modern Family - "Spring Break" (ABC, 9:00PM ET/PT) (Repeat)
Spring break has Claire doing some spring cleaning, while Phil struggles with not being a spring chicken when Luke starts outperforming him at seemingly everything. Haley takes Alex to a music festival to take her mind off of colleges, and Gloria and Jay challenge one another to give up Spanish soap operas and cigars respectively. However, when Gloria accompanies Cameron to his faculty talent show, she projects the soapy drama she craves onto Cam’s rivalry with Senor Kaplan, and Jay tags along with Mitchell to pick up Lily from camp so he can sneak a smoke.

black-ish - "30 Something" (ABC, 9:30PM ET/PT) (Repeat)
Things begin to fall apart, in more ways than one, when Dre hurts himself playing basketball right before his 40th birthday. He hands the planning of his big party over to his much younger, hipper assistant, fearing he really is getting too old to be cool. Bow and Ruby face off over who can get Dre the best gift, and the kids try to figure out what to give their dad for his special day.


Melissa & Joey - "Be the Bigger Person" (ABC Family, 8:00PM ET/PT)
Mel gets into a war of words with a citizen who catches her in a politically awkward situation.

Baby Daddy - "What Happens in Vegas" (ABC Family, 8:30PM ET/PT)
Tucker moonlights as a lounge singer in Las Vegas; Danny reveals his big secret to Ben.


The Jim Gaffigan Show - "A Night at the Plaza" (TV Land, 10:00PM ET/PT)
Jim plans a romantic anniversary that includes a Broadway show and stay at The Plaza hotel. The night is interrupted by visits from Daniel, Dave, Dave’s girlfriend and her jealous ex. Not quite the anniversary Jim had planned.

Impastor - "Bird of Pray" (TV Land, 10:30PM ET/PT)
Buddy’s first Sunday service is so unorthodox, a livid Schmidt calls in the bishop to assess the new pastor’s competence. Dora makes an unusual request for Buddy, while Alexa and Russell vie for his affection.


The Game - "What More Can I Say?" (BET, 10:00PM ET/PT)
Jason and Kelly are shocked; the Sabers have food poisoning; Keira questions her relationship with Malik.

Complete TV Listings


Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows (Week of July 27) (All times ET unless noted)

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

  • Christina Applegate (Up All Night/Samantha Who?/Jesse/Married with Children) - Watch Christina on Jimmy Kimmel Live! at 11:35pm on ABC.
  • Jason Segel (How I Met Your Mother) - Jason stops by The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon at 11:34pm on NBC.
  • Amy Sedaris (Strangers with Candy) - Amy visits The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon at 11:34pm on NBC.
  • Ed Helms (The Office) - Ed stops by Late Night with Seth Meyers at 12:36am on NBC. He also chats about the film Vacation on ABC's Good Morning America sometime between 7-9am, on LIVE! with Kelly and Michael (check your listings), and on the AOL Build Show.
  • Felicity Huffman (Sports Night) - Felicity drops by The Late Late Show with James Corden at 12:37am on CBS.
  • Jack McBrayer (30 Rock) - Jack is a guest on a repeat of Last Call with Carson Daly at 1:35am on NBC.
  • Rob Corddry (Ballers/The Winner) - Rob appears on a repeat of Conan at 11pm on TBS.
  • Denis Leary (Sex&Drugs&Rock&Roll/The Job) - Denis gives the scoop on his new series on Rachael Ray, so check your local listings.
  • Malcolm-Jamal Warner (The Cosby Show/Malcolm & Eddie/Reed Between the Lines) - Malcolm-Jamal is a guest on The Boris and Nicole Show on select Fox-owned stations, so check your local listings.
  • Kym Whitley (Young & Hungry/Animal Practice/Sparks) - Kym appears on The Boris and Nicole Show, so check your local listings.
  • Jonathan Silverman (Significant Mother/The Single Guy/Gimme a Break) - Jonathan talks about his new series Significant Mother on Access Hollywood Live, so check your local listings.
  • Mike Epps and Jessie T. Usher (Survivor's Remorse) - Mike and Jessie are guests on the AOL Build Show.
  • Michael Rosenbaum (Impastor/Breaking In) - Michael will be on People Now.
  • Kristin Davis (Sex and the City/Bad Teacher) - Kristin is a guest on a repeat of Tavis Smiley on PBS, so check your local listings.