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

Thursday, May 24

The Big Bang Theory - "The Gates Excitation" (CBS, 8:00PM ET/PT) (Repeat)
Penny gets the opportunity to host Bill Gates at work when his company wants to partner with her pharmaceutical company. Also, Leonard, Koothrappali and Wolowitz do everything in their power to meet him, while Sheldon thinks he is the victim of an April Fools prank.

Young Sheldon - "A Computer, A Plastic Pony, And A Case of Beer" (CBS, 8:30PM ET/PT) (Repeat)
Sheldon asks for a computer and unknowingly sparks a heated argument between Mary and George Sr. over the family’s finances.

Mom - "Fancy Crackers and Giant Women" (CBS, 9:00PM ET/PT) (Repeat)
Bonnie suffers withdrawal after giving up cable TV to help Christy pay for her law school applications, and the women rally around Jill after she has a breakdown in her favorite department store.

Life in Pieces - "Settlement Pacifier Attic Unsyncing" (CBS, 9:30PM ET/PT) (Repeat)
When the entire Hughes family moves into John and Joan’s home after their kitchen is destroyed, their presence creates chaos for Joan. Also, Matt and Colleen are set to receive a huge monetary settlement from Colleen’s fall off the motel balcony on their wedding night; John tries to get Sophia back on track when she starts misbehaving; Tyler and Clementine make a surprise announcement to the family; and Jen and Greg attempt to persuade Lark to get rid of her pacifier.

Nobodies - "Alone Star State" (TV Land, 10:00PM ET/PT)
Mark-Paul and Rachel attend the Independent Spirit Awards together; an unassuming Hugh joins Larry in Austin, Texas, to teach unauthorized Groundlings-style seminars to a group of Texas businesspeople.

Complete TV Listings


Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows (Week of May 21)

Thursday, May 24

  • Mindy Kaling (The Mindy Project/The Office) - Catch Mindy on Late Night with Seth Meyers at 12:36am on NBC.
  • Ellie Kemper (Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt/The Office) - Ellie appears on Late Night with Seth Meyers at 12:36am on NBC.
  • Ted Danson (The Good Place/Becker/Cheers) - Ted is a guest on The Late Late Show with James Corden at 12:37am on CBS.
  • Tig Notaro (One Mississippi) - Tig visits Conan at 11pm on TBS. She will also be on The Ellen DeGeneres Show, so check your local listings.
  • Laurie Metcalf (Roseanne/The McCarthys/The Big Bang Theory) - Laurie stops by Watch What Happens: Live at 11pm on Bravo.
  • Kelsey Grammer (Frasier/Cheers) - Kelsey chats on The Talk on CBS at 2pm ET/1pm CT-PT.
  • Amy Poehler and Nick Offerman (Parks and Recreation) - Amy and Nick are guests on The Ellen DeGeneres Show, so check your local listings.
  • Jussie Smollett (On Our Own) - Jussie appears on The Real, so check your local listings.
  • Jane Lynch (Angel from Hell) - Jane talks about Red Nose Day and Hollywood Game Night on NBC's Today sometime between 7-9am.
  • Daphne Maxwell Reid (The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air/Eve/Let's Stay Together) - Daphne makes her mother Rosalee's waffles on Home & Family on Hallmark Channel at 10am ET/PT.
  • Oliver Hudson (Splitting Up Together/Rules of Engagement) - Oliver is a guest on a repeat of Steve, so check your local listings.
  • Christine Lakin (Hollywood Darlings/Step by Step) - Christine is part of the panel on a repeat of Steve, so check your local listings.


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

Atlanta - The Complete First Season Curb Your Enthusiasm - The Complete Ninth Season One Day at a Time - Season Two Perfect Strangers  - The Complete Third Season Diff'rent Strokes - The Complete Final (Eighth) Season

03/06 - Atlanta - The Complete First Season
03/06 - Curb Your Enthusiasm - The Complete Ninth Season
03/13 - The New Adventures of Old Christine - The Complete First Season
03/27 - One Day at a Time - Season Two
04/03 - Ballers - The Complete Third Season (Blu-ray)
04/03 - 90's Sitcom (Just Shoot Me!/The Larry Sanders Show/Wings) Starter Set - Season 1 & 2 Bundle
04/10 - Vice Principals - The Compelte Series
04/17 - Perfect Strangers - The Complete Third Season
05/08 - Dear White People - Season 1
05/08 - Diff'rent Strokes - The Complete Final (Eighth) Season
05/29 - I'm Dying Up Here - Season 1
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