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 / Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows

Wednesday, February 28

The Conners - "Shrinks Don't Talk and Kids Don't Sing" (ABC, 8:00PM ET/PT)
Mark adjusts to his first day of college as a commuter student; meanwhile, Becky gets into a disagreement with Beverly Rose’s music teacher over a song.

Not Dead Yet - "Not Polite Yet" (ABC, 8:30PM ET/PT)
Lexi combines the first two floors of the newsroom, leaving Nell to share a cubicle with T.J., a popular sportswriter who’s friends with everyone … except her.

Abbott Elementary - "Breakup" (ABC, 9:00PM ET/PT)
When Barbara’s church choir uses the gym for rehearsals, Ava notices tensions in the group. Jacob’s eagerness for a full social calendar worries Gregory. Melissa and Janine investigate a new substitute.

That Girl Lay Lay - "Lay Lay Goes Away-Way" (Nickelodeon, 8:00PM ET/PT)
Needing a best friend to talk to, Sadie wishes that phone avatar Lay Lay was real and could help teach her how to stand out; when Lay Lay is magically brought to life, the two friends learn that when they are together, they can accomplish anything.

That Girl Lay Lay - "Out the App 2: E-Lay-Lay-tric Boogaloo" (Nickelodeon, 8:00PM ET/PT)
Needing a best friend to talk to, Sadie wishes that phone avatar Lay Lay was real and could help teach her how to stand out; when Lay Lay is magically brought to life, the two friends learn that when they are together, they can accomplish anything.

Complete TV Listings


Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows (Week of February 26)

Wednesday, February 28

  • Bob Odenkirk (The Larry Sanders Show) - Watch Bob on Jimmy Kimmel Live! at 11:35pm on ABC.
  • Carrie Preston (Crowded/Happyish/Emeril) - Carrie is a guest on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert at 11:35pm on CBS. She talks about Elsbeth on CBS Mornings some time between 7-9am.
  • Austin Butler (Ruby & the Rockits/Zoey 101/Ned's Declassified School Survival Guide) - Austin appears on Late Night with Seth Meyers at 12:36am on NBC.
  • Jenny Slate (The Great North/Big Mouth/Married/Bob's Burgers) - Jenny is a guest on Late Night with Seth Meyers at 12:36am on NBC.
  • Fred Armisen (Los Espookys/Forever/Final Space) - Fred sits in with The 8G Band on Late Night with Seth Meyers at 12:36am on NBC.
  • Fortune Feimster (Kenan/Bless the Harts/Champions) and Tig Notaro (One Mississippi) - Fortune and Tig are guests on After Midnight at 12:37am on CBS.
  • Cheryl Hines (Curb Your Enthusiasm/Son of Zorn/Suburgatory) and Susie Essman (Curb Your Enthusiasm/Broad City/Baby Boom) - Cheryl and Susie are guests on Watch What Happens: Live at 10pm on Bravo
  • Zendaya (K.C. Undercover/Shake It Up) - E! News has an interview with Zendaya at 11pm on E!.
  • Alan Cumming (Schmigadoon!) - Alan is joining Drew and Ross Mathews at the Drew'ss News desk to discuss headlines like the Romy and Michele's High School Reunion sequel in the works and the American alternative to the Irish exit on The Drew Barrymore Show, so check your local listings.
  • Kim Fields (The Upshaws/Living Single/The Facts of Life/Baby, I'm Back) - Kim discusses her wellness retreat and the upcoming new season of Netflix's The Upshaws on Access Daily with Mario & Kit, so check your local listings.
  • Vivica A. Fox (Mr. Box Office/Getting Personal/Arsenio/Out All Night) and Michael Beach (The Game) - The cast of Soul Food reunite and discuss Hulu's new Black Stories Always on ABC's GMA 3: What You Need to Know at 1pm.
  • Diane Farr (Splitting Together/Like Family/The Job) - Diane discusses the CBS drama series Fire Country on The Talk on CBS at 2pm ET/1pm CT-PT.


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

More Recent and Upcoming TV DVD Releases / DVD Reviews Archive / SitcomsOnline Digest


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02/18 - Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows; This Week in Sitcoms (Week of February 19, 2024)
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02/15 - TCA Winter 2024 Press Tour: Peacock, Syfy and NBC
02/14 - Survival of the Thickest Gets 2nd Season; Roma Downey and Ted McGinley Set to Star on Prime Video
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02/12 - TCA Winter 2024 Press Tour: ABC, Disney, Hulu, FX
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02/10 - SitcomsOnline Digest: FX Sticking with Binge Drop for The Bear; Peak TV Declared to Be "Over"
02/09 - More Stars for Netflix's No Good Deed; ID Premiering Quiet On Set: The Dark Side of Kids TV; Remembering Carl Weathers
02/08 - Apple TV+ Comedy Series Palm Royale Has Star Power; Katt Williams Gets New Netflix Comedy Special
02/07 - Hallmark Movies & Mysteries to Rebrand as Hallmark Mystery; Fox Renews Animal Control for Season 3 Ahead of Season 2 Launch
02/06 - COZI TV's The Many Loves of Frasier Crane Marathon; Netflix Announces Cast for Ted Danson Comedy
02/05 - Lopez vs Lopez Airing in April on NBC; Apple TV+ New Peanuts Special on February 16
02/04 - Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows; This Week in Sitcoms (Week of February 5, 2024)
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02/02 - Extraordinary Season 2 This March on Hulu; Great American Family Sets Hosts for Gala
02/01 - Colin from Accounts Returning to Paramount+; Weakest Link Days of Our Lives Special
01/31 - Hulu Black History Month Includes Timeless Classics; BUZZR Celebrates Black History Month, Too
01/30 - Good Times 50th Anniversary Marathons on get.; Password Returns for Season 2 on NBC
01/29 - Antenna TV's I Wish for an I Dream of Jeannie Valentine's Day Marathon; Malin Akerman Headlining Starz Drama
01/28 - Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows; This Week in Sitcoms (Week of January 29, 2024)
01/27 - SitcomsOnline Digest: Jon Stewart Set to Return to The Daily Show Once a Week; Ted McGinley to Star in Prime Video Series