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

Sunday, December 17

Complete TV Listings


Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows (Week of December 11)

Friday, December 15

  • Jodie Foster (Paper Moon/The Courtship of Eddie's Father) - Watch Jodie on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert at 11:35pm on CBS.
  • Tom Hanks (Bosom Buddies) - Tom is a guest on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert at 11:35pm on CBS.
  • Josh Gad (1600 Penn/Back to You) - Josh appears on a repeat of The Late Late Show with James Corden at 12:37am on CBS.
  • Nick Jonas (Jonas L.A. - Nick chats with the ladies of The View on ABC at 11am ET/10am CT-PT. He will also be on People Now at 8:30am.
  • Hilary Duff (Younger/Lizzie McGuire) - Hilary guest co-hosts chats with the ladies of The View on ABC at 11am ET/10am CT-PT.
  • Jenny McCarthy (Two and a Half Men/Jenny) - Jenny and Donnie Wahlberg dish on their PDA packed relationship, Facetime sleeping and more on Harry, so check your local listings.
  • Ben Feldman (Superstore/A to Z/Living with Fran) - Ben appears on a repeat of Steve, so check your local listings.
  • Anthony Anderson (black-ish/Guys with Kids/All About the Andersons) - Anthony talks about his 16-year battle with Type 2 diabetes on The Dr. Oz Show, so check your local listings.
  • Fiona Gubelmann (Wilfred) - Fiona talks about the Hallmark Channel original movie Christmas Next Door Home & Family on Hallmark Channel at 10am ET/PT.
  • Allison Janney (Mom/Mr. Sunshine) - Allison cooks a festive dish on ABC's The Chew at 1pm ET/12pm PT/CT.
  • Henry Winkler (Happy Days/Monty/Out of Practice/Arrested Development) - Henry is a guest on Rachael Ray, so check your local listings.
  • Elizabeth Banks (Scrubs/30 Rock) - Elizabeth talks about Pitch Perfect 3 on NBC's Today sometime between 7-9am.
  • Patti LaBelle (Out All Night) - Patti will be on NBC's Megyn Kelly Today at 9am.
  • Rebel Wilson (Super Fun Night) and Anna Camp (The Mindy Project) - Rebel, Anna and the cast of Pitch Perfect 3 are guests on NBC's Megyn Kelly Today at 9am.
  • Ed Begley, Jr. (Your Family or Mine/Gary Unmarried) - Ed appears on NBC's Megyn Kelly Today at 9am.
  • Daniella Monet (Victorious/Listen Up!) - Daniella talks about Paradise Run on the BUILD Series at 3:30pm.


New on DVD/Blu-ray (November/December)

The Wayans Bros. - The Complete Third Season Living Single - The Complete Third Season Alice - The Complete Sixth Season One Day at a Time - The Complete Series Fuller House - The Complete Second Season

11/07 - American Dad! - Volume 12
11/07 - Family Guy - Season Fifteen
11/07 - The Wayans Bros. - The Complete Third Season
11/14 - D.C. Follies - The Complete Series
11/21 - Living Single - The Complete Third Season
11/24 - Grandfathered - Season 1
12/05 - Alice - The Complete Sixth Season
12/05 - One Day at a Time - The Complete Series
12/05 - The Simpsons - The Eighteenth Season
12/05 - South Park - The Complete First Season (Blu-ray) / 2 / 3 / 4 / 5
12/12 - Fuller House - The Complete Second Season
12/19 - South Park - The Complete Sixth Season (Blu-ray) / 7 / 8 / 9 / 10 / 11
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