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Broadcast TV's Summer of Fail


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18 replies to this topic

#1 OFFLINE   Supramom2000

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Posted 13 August 2009 - 11:19 PM

Interesting figures on the numbers for all the new summer shows on the networks.

http://www.thrfeed.c...ws-bombing.html

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#2 OFFLINE   phrelin

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Posted 14 August 2009 - 12:01 AM

I have to smile. "Defying Gravity" 3.3 million viewers, "The Philanthropist" 5.6 million, "Merlin" 4.8 million, etc. These shows would be considered successes on USA, TNT, FX, etc. Why do the braindead broadcast networks think they've failed?

"...This summer we just collectively missed the mark," another network exec said. "There's too many shows with 1's in front of their demo rating. We just did a bad job."

The demo, the adults 18-49, really 18-35 and preferably guys.

No wonder CBS is walking away with the fall season totals. They want the young, the middle, the old, both male and female, in reasonable numbers that add up to consistently high total viewer ratings. And they seem to be doing fine with mostly summer reruns, according to the article:

For the summer, Fox (averaging 5.2 million, 1.9) leads in the demo, with largely repeat-driven CBS (6.8 million, 1.5) tops among total viewers. Then there's ABC (4.8 million, 1.6), NBC (5.3 million, 1.5) and the CW (1 million, 0.4).

I'm sorry, but if I were an advertiser I'd take CBS extra 1.6 million viewers over Fox's 1.9 demo rating, particularly if that 1.6 million were age 48-79. We do buy stuff. Just ask our UPS delivery guy.:grin:

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#3 OFFLINE   bicker1

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Posted 14 August 2009 - 04:56 AM

In the end, what matters is how much money is generated by the presentation of a specific program, because that's what goes toward fulfilling the station's obligations to their owners. Getting more viewers than something else doesn't matter, once you get into the board room. Such things only have importance for public television stations. For commercial television stations, money matters. And this summer the money side of things took a turn for the worst. I don't think the offerings were any worse than previous years -- quite the opposite. Instead, I think that while broadcast stations are presenting far better programming this summer than years ago, other entertainment outlets are also far more attractive. Cable presented many more great programs as compared to several years ago. Video game systems are better than they've ever been. The Internet is coming into its own as an attractive entertainment device. Blu-ray discs provide arguably double the video quality of television. And so on.

Television isn't failing because they "missed the mark". :rolleyes: Television is failing because all the rest of the diversions are maturing and becoming legitimate, or more serious, competitors for our attentions.

#4 OFFLINE   sigma1914

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Posted 14 August 2009 - 06:08 AM

I always attributed lower ratings on summer TV to the fact that school is out and people, mainly families, get away from their daily schedules. During the fall TV season when school is beginning, families are more likely to relax after work & school by watching TV. During the summer, there is more free time to relax and do other activities like vacations. The school factor is big with TV's 18-25 target demographic, too. College kids want to hang out during the evenings and watch a little TV at night after a day of class and work. Basically, summer gives people more free time to pursue other entertainment options than fall and spring seasons when school is in session.
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#5 OFFLINE   bicker1

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Posted 14 August 2009 - 09:06 AM

While I believe that is true, sigma, two things: First, the metrics show that viewership declines about 3% over the summer. That's not that much. Second, the issue raised in the OP isn't so much that summer is a "low season" for television, but rather that this summer failed to perform as per expectations.

I've outlined my feelings with regard to "why" this second item was the case, in my message above. With regard to "why" viewership is 3% less over the summer, well, quite frankly, I don't think the 3% is really big enough to worry about figuring out "why". :)

#6 OFFLINE   Stuart Sweet

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Posted 14 August 2009 - 09:15 AM

It's possible sigma1914 is right, but I tend to think that's 20th century thinking. More people live down south where the weather is fair all year (and in fact where I live, it's nicer in the "winter".) I think that if there were good quality TV out there in July or August, people would watch.
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#7 OFFLINE   the_batman

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Posted 14 August 2009 - 09:21 AM

Thank god FOOTBALL is back!!!

#8 OFFLINE   phrelin

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Posted 14 August 2009 - 11:31 AM

In the end, what matters is how much money is generated by the presentation of a specific program, because that's what goes toward fulfilling the station's obligations to their owners. Getting more viewers than something else doesn't matter, once you get into the board room. Such things only have importance for public television stations. For commercial television stations, money matters. And this summer the money side of things took a turn for the worst. I don't think the offerings were any worse than previous years -- quite the opposite. Instead, I think that while broadcast stations are presenting far better programming this summer than years ago, other entertainment outlets are also far more attractive. Cable presented many more great programs as compared to several years ago. Video game systems are better than they've ever been. The Internet is coming into its own as an attractive entertainment device. Blu-ray discs provide arguably double the video quality of television. And so on.

Television isn't failing because they "missed the mark". :rolleyes: Television is failing because all the rest of the diversions are maturing and becoming legitimate, or more serious, competitors for our attentions.

You've hit the mark dead on. The 1958 broadcast TV station model is dying a slow death because it's all wrong for the future.

:rant:
The best thing that could happen is reflected in the Media Heavyweights Take On Nielsen thread. Advertisers need better information than the Nielsen's give them and the big advertisers are now part of the challenge. Exactly who are, from an income and spending pattern viewpoint, the 6.8 million that watched CBS rerun's versus "the demo" extras that watched Fox? And what does that mean to advertisers? Let's take as an example the producers of new movies who do advertise in prime time at great expense buying mostly "scatter ads".

We subscribe to HBO, Showtime, Starz, and Cinemax, read a variety of movie reviews and follow the interviews on late night shows, so as you might guess expensive ads for new movies constitute a waste of resources for the producers when trying to reach us.

We don't watch anything live. We skip past commercials, stopping only when they appear to have cute or anthropomorphic animals, or quality graphics or music. We spend a lot of time on the web. Any amount of research of buying habit research would tell an advertiser whether we're worth spending ad money on and how to target us.

On the other hand, my 13-year-old granddaughter is now going to movies with her friends and parents on a regular basis. News about movies in her circle is spread, in declining order of importance, by
  • word-of-mouth or texting,
  • Twitter,
  • social networking web sites,
  • YouTube,
  • the theater marquee,
  • the wind,
  • and TV ads.
So as you might guess, expensive prime time ads for new movies constitute a waste of resources for the producers when trying to reach her "demo."

The networks and media producers better get used to the idea that the ad revenue 3 million viewers generates is "adequate" and 8 million viewers is "remarkable." Most need to dump the local broadcast station model which contributes nothing to their bottom line and get a handle on an internet/iPhone model which will mature into a meaningful source of revenue.

My guess is that right now, advertisers and agencies are just discovering that the 18-25 male demo includes a lot of unemployed dudes, whether they just graduated from college or had a job elsewhere. They may watch TV, but my guess is they aren't out there shopping in huge dollar numbers.

CBS, which targets a "wide-spectrum" audience. might be able to survive as the one strong broadcast affiliate model with their 6 to 14 million viewers goal and relying on summer reruns. Maybe it's good to be a CBS affiliate.

But I have no idea why NBCU, Disney/ABC, and The CW adhere to the affiliate local broadcast station model. NBCU and Disney/ABC are cable TV oriented. The CW has niche ratings suitable for cable TV.

Oh, and I think News Corp (Fox) has a "quickly adapt" economic process with a "political agenda" goal for its broadcast affiliates which works for Rupert Murdoch.
:rant:

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#9 OFFLINE   SayWhat?

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Posted 14 August 2009 - 11:38 AM

ures.

There you go. You seem to have missed that in the thread title.
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#10 OFFLINE   IndyMichael

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Posted 14 August 2009 - 11:45 AM

ures.
HD, SchmacHD!! Just be glad you've got a picture at all.


I take it you watch tv on an old black and white tv then. ;)

#11 OFFLINE   jeffshoaf

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Posted 14 August 2009 - 12:08 PM

I take it you watch tv on an old black and white tv then. ;)


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#12 OFFLINE   bicker1

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Posted 14 August 2009 - 12:09 PM

The networks and media producers better get used to the idea that the ad revenue 3 million viewers generates is "adequate" and 8 million viewers is "remarkable."

Well, this is an integrated system:

starting with
Consumers
who give value to
Advertisers
who give value to
Networks
who give value to
Producers
who give value to
Viewers
who are (or need to be, for the system to succeed)
Consumers
who give value to
Advertisers
and so on...

The weakness in the system is all focused on the tenuous connection between "Viewers" and "Consumers". If that connection fails, then there is less reason for Advertisers to give value to Networks, and therefore less reason for Networks to give value to Producers, and therefore less reason for Producers to give value to Viewers.

So it is not just "the networks and media producers" who "better get used to" the ramifications of these changes, but rather everyone in the system is going to be affected and "better get used to" how things are going to impact them.

Most need to dump the local broadcast station model which contributes nothing to their bottom line and get a handle on an internet/iPhone model which will mature into a meaningful source of revenue.

The biggest challenge there will be finding a way of making the Internet model return consistently growing value, and that will mean finding a way of safeguarding the value delivered through those channels (and others) -- which probably means even tougher copyright protections.

However, I don't think "dumping" the local broadcast station model is the right approach for networks. That's a major asset which simply needs to be populated with value in a manner more consistent with the realities of progress. They just need to focus on switching to content that has a cost profile more appropriate for the increasingly limited revenue potential that they can expect to capitalize on from that channel. One thing that will help is to focus more on programming that benefits from the immediate and ubiquitous nature of broadcast, such as things people prefer to watch live; things that just watching a "different one" wouldn't suffice. (That last bit is interesting: People might trade-off Lie To Me for The Mentalist, drama for drama; but people in Detroit will not trade-off a Lion's game for a Giant's game.)

My guess is that right now, advertisers and agencies are just discovering that the 18-25 male demo includes a lot of unemployed dudes, whether they just graduated from college or had a job elsewhere. They may watch TV, but my guess is they aren't out there shopping in huge dollar numbers.

Uh, no. They've never been a primary target for any of the Big Three/Four broadcast channels.

CBS, which targets a "wide-spectrum" audience. might be able to survive as the one strong broadcast affiliate model with their 6 to 14 million viewers goal and relying on summer reruns. Maybe it's good to be a CBS affiliate.

CBS is different for a specific reason: The company is closely-held, and doesn't have to answer to investors quite so attentively as NBC, ABC and Fox.

#13 OFFLINE   SayWhat?

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Posted 14 August 2009 - 12:22 PM

The weakness in the system is all focused on the tenuous connection between "Viewers" and "Consumers".


This viewer is definitely not a consumer of things advertised on TV. I can't say I've ever bought anything because of a TV ad. I may have bought certain products, but only because I saw it in a store and could evaluate it in-hand.
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#14 OFFLINE   bicker1

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Posted 14 August 2009 - 12:33 PM

This viewer is definitely not a consumer of things advertised on TV. I can't say I've ever bought anything because of a TV ad. I may have bought certain products, but only because I saw it in a store and could evaluate it in-hand.

And I'm worse because I never watch anything live, and so almost never even see a commercial.

You and I don't matter one little bit to the system. There is no reason either of us should expect that any part of the system will offer any deference to what we care about or want. We're leeches; nothing more.

#15 OFFLINE   Supramom2000

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Posted 14 August 2009 - 12:49 PM

ures.

There you go. You seem to have missed that in the thread title.


Ha Ha! I took the title directly from the article. I thought it was odd that they did not use failures, but thought maybe they were trying to grab more attention as most people would instinctively try to fix the word as you did.

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#16 OFFLINE   mreposter

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Posted 14 August 2009 - 01:01 PM

How/why should the major broadcast networks expect significantly greater ratings than cable when they're competing the 200+ cable channels?

In the good old 80s and 90s ABC/CBS/NBC/Fox could still afford to spend more on programming and attract larger audiences. They were competing with just a handful of cable networks that had the money to put on broadcast-quality shows. Today, shows like The Closer, Monk, Eureka, and dozens of others are written just as well and look just as good as anything on network primetime.

Worse, in the last ten years the growth of internet services and gaming consoles have further taken up the entertainment time of key demographics.

Today, it's getting harder and harder to tell the difference between ABC/CBS/NBC/FOX/CW and the top 20 cable networks.
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#17 OFFLINE   trainman

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Posted 14 August 2009 - 09:17 PM

Ha Ha! I took the title directly from the article. I thought it was odd that they did not use failures, but thought maybe they were trying to grab more attention as most people would instinctively try to fix the word as you did.


There isn't really anything to "fix" here. "Fail" as a noun is Internet slang that's been around for a while, and has now become relatively mainstream -- probably not mainstream enough to use in the headline of a news article in a general-interest daily newspaper, but this was the headline of an entry in a blog that's connected with a trade publication.

The subject of "fail" was covered in the "On Language" column in last Sunday's New York Times. (I actually like this usage of "fail"; I think it's an interesting evolution of the English language.)
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#18 OFFLINE   SayWhat?

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Posted 14 August 2009 - 09:29 PM

It's a word fad that will hopefully go away soon. Same as " Not! " a few years ago.
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#19 OFFLINE   phrelin

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Posted 15 August 2009 - 12:09 AM

Hey, I think "Summer of Fail" this year is as meaningful and "Summer of Love" was.

"In a hundred years there'll be a whole new set of people."
"Always poke the bears. They sleep too much for their own good."

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