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, February 25

The Simpsons - "Lisa Gets an F1" (Fox, 8:00PM ET/PT)
Lisa feels a need for speed as well as a need for control of her anxiety when she becomes a pro kid go-cart racer.

Krapopolis - "Eclipse" (Fox, 8:30PM ET/PT)
The city of Krapopolis reckons with a solar eclipse; Tyrannis learns that it is not a cruel punishment by Zeus, but a natural occurrence.

The Great North - "Aunt Misbehavin' Adventure" (Fox, 9:00PM ET/PT)
When Moon gets rejected by his crush for the Lil' Preppers Practice Prom, he goes off-grid for the night; Moon copes with his first bout of romantic rejection.

Grimsburg - "McSnuff the Mystery Mutt" (Fox, 9:30PM ET/PT)
After being forced to take a desk role in the office, Flute decides to lead a double-life and become a dog-themed superhero named McSnuff.

Complete TV Listings


Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows (Week of February 19)

Friday, February 23

  • Selena Gomez (Only Murders in the Building/Wizards of Waverly Place) - Watch Selena on Jimmy Kimmel Live! at 11:35pm on ABC.
  • Ken Jeong (Dr. Ken/Community) - Ken appears on a repeat of The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon at 11:35pm on NBC.
  • Dakota Johnson (Ben and Kate) - Dakota is a guest on a repeat of Late Night with Seth Meyers at 12:36am on NBC.
  • Sheryl Lee Ralph (Abbott Elementary/Fam/Instant Mom/Moesha/It's a Living) - Sheryl Lee appears on a repeat of Late Night with Seth Meyers at 12:36am on NBC.
  • Alan Cumming (Schmigadoon!) - Alan talks about Peacock's The Traitors on NBC's Today in the 10am hour.
  • Susie Essman (Curb Your Enthusiasm/Broad City/Baby Boom) - Susie chats with the ladies of The View on ABC at 11am ET/10am CT-PT.
  • D. L. Hughley (The Hughleys/Double Rush) - D. L. dives into the state of comedy today, his nationwide comedy tour and how becoming a grandfather has changed him on Tamron Hall, so check your local listings.
  • Judy Gold (All-Ameircna Girl) and Kym Whitley (Act Your Age/Young & Hungry/Animal Practice/Sparks) - Judy and Kym serve as the all-star panel of judges for Sherri's Funny Over 50 contest on Sherri, so check your local listings.
  • Beanie Feldstein (What We Do in the Shadows) - Beanie and the cast of Drive-Away Dolls are telling Drew all about their new on The Drew Barrymore Show, so check your local listings.
  • Shoniqua Shandai (Harlem) - Shoniqua is a guest on PIX11 Morning News on WPIX in New York at 9:30am.


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

Leave it to Beaver - The Complete Series (Blu-ray) Father Knows Best - The Complete Series The Odd Couple - The Complete Series (Blu-ray) Three's Company - The Official 40th Anniversary Collection Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C. - The Complete Series (Blu-ray)

11/07 - South Park - The Complete Twenty-Sixth Season (Blu-ray) (DVD)
11/14 - Leave it to Beaver - The Complete Series (Blu-ray)
12/05 - Father Knows Best - The Complete Series
12/05 - The Odd Couple - The Complete Series (Blu-ray)
12/12 - The Dick Van Dyke Show - The Complete Series
12/12 - Looney Tunes Collector's Choice - Volume 2 (Blu-ray)
12/12 - That Girl - The Complete Series
12/15 - Letterkenny - Season 11
12/19 - The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet - The Official Restored Complete Series
12/22 - Three's Company - The Official 40th Anniversary Collection (includes The Ropers and Three's a Crowd)
01/09 - South Park - Seasons 11-15 (Blu-ray)
01/16 - Ghosts (UK) - Season Five
02/13 - Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C. - The Complete Series (Blu-ray)
02/27 - The Really Loud House - Season One

That Girl - The Complete Series The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet - The Official Restored Complete Series

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