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 (April)

The Odd Couplete (2015) - Season One Family Matters - The Complete Sixth Season Veep - The Complete Fourth Season The Beverly Hillbillies - The Official First Season Hot in Cleveland - Season Six

04/05 - 10 Items or Less - The Complete Series
04/05 - Episodes - The Fourth Season
04/05 - The Odd Couple (2015) - Season One
04/12 - Family Matters - The Complete Sixth Season
04/12 - Grace and Frankie - Season One
04/12 - Welcome to Sweden - The Complete Second Season
04/19 - Silicon Valley - The Complete Second Season (Blu-ray)
04/19 - Veep - The Complete Fourth Season (Blu-ray)
04/26 - The Beverly Hillbillies - The Official First Season
04/26 - Hot in Cleveland - Season Six
04/26 - Hot in Cleveland - The Complete Series
04/26 - Schitt's Creek - The Complete Second Season
04/29 - The Monkees - The Complete Series (Blu-ray)
More TV DVD Releases / DVD Reviews Archive / SitcomsOnline Digest


Sitcoms Airing Tonight

Saturday, April 30

Henry Danger - "Ox Pox" (Nickelodeon, 8:00PM ET/PT)
When Piper gets a mysterious illness, Captain Man must travel back in time to the 1700s to find the only cure.

School of Rock - "Should I Stay or Should I Go?" (Nickelodeon, 8:30PM ET/PT)
Zack gets poached by another band right before the Battle of the Bands audition. But he learns a lesson about loyalty and friendship when he has to find a way back into School of Rock. Guest Star: Kendall Schmidt.

Bella and the Bulldogs - "Bella in the Spotlight" (Nickelodeon, 9:00PM ET/PT)
Bella notices that all of the attention on the Bulldogs is on her, so she tries to get the rest of the team the credit they deserve. Sophie helps Newt in a robot battle competition.

Complete TV Listings


Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows (Week of May 2)

Saturday, April 30

  • Josie Bissett (The Hogan Family) and Laura San Giacomo (Just Shoot Me!) - Josie and Laura will be featured on Oprah: Where Are They Now? at 10pm ET/PT on OWN.
Monday, May 2
  • Louis C.K. (Louie) - Watch Louis on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon at 11:34pm on NBC.
  • Carol Kane (Taxi/American Dreamer/Pearl) - Carol drops by Late Night with Seth Meyers at 12:36am on NBC.
  • John Stamos (Grandfathered/Jake in Progress/Full House) - John visits The Late Late Show with James Corden at 12:37am on CBS.
  • Tituss Burgess (Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt) - Tituss is a guest on The Late Late Show with James Corden at 12:37am on CBS.
  • Riki Lindhome (Another Period/Super Fun Night) - Riki drops by The Nightly Show with Larry Wilmore at 11:30pm on Comedy Central.
  • Rachael Harris (Surviving Jack/Notes from the Underbelly) - Rachael appears on @midnight on Comedy Central at midnight.
  • Amanda Crew (Silicon Valley) - Amanda stops by Conan at 11pm on TBS.
  • Dave Coulier (Fuller House/Full House) - Dave is a guest on The Meredith Vieira Show, so check your local listings.
  • Tichina Arnold (Survivor's Remorse/Happily Divorced/Everybody Hates Chris/Martin) - Tichina appears on The Real, so check your local listings.
  • Morris Chestnut (Out All Night) - Morris discusses Rosewood on the AOL Build Show at 3:45pm.
  • Bill Engvall (The Bill Engvall Show) - Bill appears on The Doctors, so check your local listings.