7 Lessons We Learned from the 2012-2013 TV Season

Although there are still few season finales left, we've officially reached the end of the 2012-2013 television season. Most of the big networks are done with their fall-to-spring programming, and now it's time for cable to take over with its diverse summer offerings. But before we get lost in summer classics like Breaking BadTrue Blood, and Wipeout, it's important to take stock of the last nine months! While the current tentpoles of the status quo held true (big ratings for The Voice and The Big Bang Theory, problems for NBC), we discovered some new things between September and May; here are the seven biggest lessons we learned.


1. Long-running reality competitions are losing their luster (finally!)


Sure, The Voice is the most popular unscripted show on the air right now and somehow, NBC running two cycles of it this season didn't end up impacting the singing competition's ratings much at all. However, the show is still relatively new and the charm of Adam Levine and Blake Shelton simply will not be denied. And SurvivorThe Amazing Race, and The Bachelor have kept on keeping on. Elsewhere though, big tentpole reality competition shows are cratering. American Idol's ratings and buzz have been so porous this season that the judges panel is getting a complete makeover, which especially hurts in the shadow of The Voice's triumphs. Fox is betting (perhaps naively) that another regime change at the table will bring viewers back in January, but with The Voice doing well and The X Factor continuing to exist and suck the last remaining life out of Simon Cowell, things don't good for Fox. 

Over at ABC, Dancing With the Stars finally reached low enough of a nadir that the network had no choice but to cut its stranglehold on Mondays and Tuesdays for 2013-2014. Come next season, DWTS will only air one day a week so that ABC can try to make up some of the ground on CBS on Tuesday nights. Meanwhile, thankfully, The Celebrity Apprentice faltered big time this spring for NBC. Maybe now the show is finally unprofitable enough that NBC will stop being in business with that awful creature Donald Trump. Hopefully.

While Apprentice might be on the way out, Idol and Dancing are not in true jeopardy of being canceled in the next few years, but both Fox and ABC have to be ready to overhaul their schedules sooner rather than later. 


2. Big names don't necessarily bring success

As the film industry continues to fracture, more recognizable "film stars" are making their way to television—and this season, lots of previously popular TV actors returned after realizing that the movies had nothing for them. But big names don't necessarily pull in viewers, especially when the various star vehicles aren't any good. While Kevin Bacon helped shepherd The Following to sizable success, Dennis Quaid and Michael Chiklis couldn't make Vegas work, Matthew Perry guided a third straight show (Studio 60Mr. Sunshine, and now Go On) to single-season status, and Jenna Elfman (and I guess Bill Pullman and Josh Gad) didn't boost 1600 Penn's chances. Meanwhile, the internet love for folks like Connie Britton, Hayden Panettiere (both on Nashville), and Mindy Kaling (The Mindy Project) only barely translated to success for their respective shows. And perhaps the biggest name of them all, Britney Spears, had little to no impact on The X Factor's ratings after the first few weeks. In an era of such diverse, niche audiences, big stars mean very, very little. 


3. It's REALLY hard for the broadcast networks to create a new hit


We have now reached the "Broadcast Networks Are in Trouble" portion of the program. We know that the television business is a fickle mistress and that new shows rarely succeed. This season was sort of weird in that a healthy number of newbies survived and will return for a second season (by my count, we have 10 right now: NashvilleElementaryChicago FireThe NeighborsArrowBeauty and the BeastThe Carrie DiariesThe Following, Revolution, and The Mindy Project, with Hannibal as possible later addition), but many of them aren't particularly popular by any metric. Revolution started off hot and then people watched a few episodes and realized it wasn't the next big thing NBC wanted it to be. Elementary and Chicago Fire did fine considering their problematic 10pm timeslots (no one is watching live at this hour anymore, unless they're watching Scandal), and Arrow is a CW Hit, which means it's not really a hit at all. The NeighborsThe Mindy ProjectThe Carrie DiariesNashville, and Beauty and the Beast could have easily and justifiably been canceled. This leaves The Following as the likely sole true "hit" of the 2012-2013 freshmen class, and its extended delay of not returning until January (oh, and a crappy first season) might take a bite out of that success. A number of these shows are pretty good and sometimes even very good, but it is growing more difficult for them to capture big ratings or in many cases, big buzz. This is at least partially caused by...


4. Cable's growing domination is no longer just about Sunday or HBO

...this. Don't get it twisted, the broadcast networks are really struggling to make their original series work on Sunday nights. With HBO, AMC, Showtime, and even History and Sundance programming big event or prestige dramas on Sundays, the broadcasters are kind of screwed. NBC does big business in the fall thanks to football, but come January, they basically give up. Fox's comedies do okay, but both CBS and ABC program some of their more important programs in the Sunday-night slots, and this season ABC in particular took some hits. Ratings for Once Upon a Time dropped quite a bit, Revenge imploded on every level and both of the network's 10pm dramas (666 Park Avenue and Red Widow) were basically dead on arrival. At the same time, Game of Thrones and The Walking Dead continued to break both their own and television-wide ratings records, while things like The Bible and Vikings took further chunks out of the network audience. 

But cable isn't just taking over Sundays. It seemed like every week, we were reading stories about a random cable show substantially topping the broadcast offerings in the important demographics. Duck Dynasty hysteria is in full swing, and shows on BET, Bravo, and A&E pretty regular garnered more than competitive ratings. Heck, reruns of The Big Bang Theory on TBS often perform better than new episodes of some of our favorite broadcast shows. Of course, this isn't a new development—but it IS more pronounced than ever. Cable is only going to continue to erode the broadcast audience. 


5. Certain timeslots are still pretty poisonous 

I wrote about this not too long ago, but the point is still an important one to reinforce. Problem areas like ABC Thursdays at 8pm, NBC Thursdays at 10pm, and CBS Tuesdays at 10pm continued to be problem areas this season. This year, the shows in those timeslots were much better than the what the networks had generally offered in recent years (Last ResortHannibalVegas, and Golden Boy are/were all solid), but the viewers weren't there. However, I also want to note that the post-Modern Family half-hour continued its very weird troubles, as nothing that aired behind it did especially well (How to Live With Your Parents for the Rest of Your Life is dead, and Suburgatory is now a midseason player). Late in the season, Fox tried to use American Idol to boost the ratings of its comedies (Raising HopeNew Girl, and The Mindy Project) and somehow, the shows did worse in that once-cushy timeslot than they did on their own on Tuesday nights. Furthermore, while The Voice helped Revolution and Go On in the fall, its long break ultimately damaged those show's spring ratings quite a bit. So it's not just the historically troubled timeslots that spell trouble; the time periods after popular shows are struggling as well. While we know that timeslots and lead-ins don't mean what they used to, these results are still kind of staggering. 


6. The CW can actually survive (and perhaps thrive) without high school

For years, The CW kept developing the same types of shows over and over again, and they were all about attractive, rich, white high school students with uninteresting problems. This season brought a development slate mostly full of shows about a concept previously foreign to The CW executives: adults. Emily Owens, M.D. and Cult certainly didn't work and Beauty and the Beast is a weird mess of a show, but hey, ArrowSmallville anchored the network for the first years of its existence and thankfully, head honcho Mark Pedowitz has realized that the network needs to recapture the viewers who watched it instead instead of going after the same young, female-focused stories. 

And for the most part, the move worked. Arrow gave The CW a new series to build around on Wednesday nights. The series was a big hit by The CW's standards, did relatively fine in the important demographics, and made a nice little two-hour block with SupernaturalBeauty and the Beast certainly isn't a hit by any means, but it also grew into a more confident and assured story as the season progressed. Meanwhile, the network purged itself of Gossip Girl and 90210, the last vestiges of its previous (and terrible) regime, and allowed Hart of Dixie and Nikita, two other adult programs, to do their things without any disruption or interruption. Cut to last week's Upfronts and the announcement of a new CW schedule that has little to do with high school (save for The Carrie Diaries and new show Star-Crossed), and that's built around new centerpieces (The OriginalsThe Tomorrow People, and The 100) that are more focused on adult themes (mostly with a supernatural or sci-fi twist). 

There's no guarantee that these new shows will be hits, but there's clearly an intent by The CW to make a change in direction and after a year or so, it seems like this is the correct path. The network is still all about the youngest, prettiest, whitest, and supernatural-est people on TV, but at least they're not all in high school anymore. 


7. It's hard out there for a sitcom, no matter its type

We entered this season with a number of substantial sitcom blocks: CBS aired comedies on Mondays (8pm to 10pm) and Thursdays 8pm to 9pm); ABC tested them on Tuesdays (9pm to 10pm), Wednesdays (8pm to 10pm), and Fridays (8pm to 9pm); Fox focused on Tuesdays (8pm to 10pm); and NBC tried them on Tuesdays (9pm to 10pm) and Wednesdays (8pm to 9pm) in addition to staple block on Thursdays (8pm to 10pm). That's an unbelievable amount of comedy, probably the largest amount since the mid-'90s boom. However, we—and the networks—discovered that when there are so many comedies going up against one another, there's no way all of them are going to survive. The stiff competition led to a number of struggles for even some of the more established shows, while a number of the newbies had no chance of a sophomore season. 

By my calculations, 32 comedies aired across those timeslots in 2012-2013 and 17 of them will not be back next year (though that includes The Office and 30 Rock, which might've returned if NBC had had its way). The three-way duel on Tuesday especially took its toll, as ABC lost both Happy Endings and Don't Trust the B**** in Apartment 23, NBC lost Go On and The New Normal, and New Girl's ratings did not thrive in the way Fox hoped they would, bringing Mindy down with it. And the battle didn't really discriminate, hurting critical favorites (Happy Endings and Don't Trust the B**** in Apartment 23, plus Ben and Kate a half hour earlier), reinforcing the point about about the diminished returns of star power (Go On), and damaging the one show that we would all probably refer to as a "hit" (New Girl). Tuesdays not only strained our DVRs, they quickly became ratings sinkholes for networks, and I would guess that the stiff competition played a big role in that.

Meanwhile, you might say that the broader comedies thrived, while the niche, internet-friendly comedies died. Happy Endings and Don't Trust the B**** reflect that, as do New Girl's moderate troubles and the continued, slow death of NBC's Thursday-night comedy block. In contrast, ABC's established Wednesday comedies and CBS's Monday and Thursday blocks did big business, as they do. However, it's important to remember that Modern Family's ratings and critical praise did decline in a not negligible way, while 2 Broke Girls did not fare as well at the top of the 9pm Monday hour as CBS probably would've hoped. And NBC went broader with Animal PracticeGuys With KidsGo On, The New Normal, and 1600 Penn and every single one of them failed. If The Office and 30 Rock hadn't ended, NBC's Thursday block would literally look exactly the same next year—CommunityParks and Recreation, and those two shows—which is both insane and amusing. And at Fox, Ben and Kate was probably the broadest show in that Tuesday comedy block and it was basically dead on arrival. So while the internet's favorites took big hits, the season wasn't exactly flawless for the more general-leaning efforts either. Except for The Big Bang Theory.

In any event, the networks have scheduled even more comedies for next season, so this intense competition won't be coming to an end. And it's likely that CBS and ABC will continue to grow, while NBC and to a lesser extent Fox (which has the quality, but simply can't seem to get people to watch) will struggle a bit to find traction with audiences. But if this season is any indication, the increased competition means that comedies of all types will fall. 


What nuggets of wisdom have YOU gleaned from the 2012-2013 season?

Comments (185)
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I think the biggest problem networks have is they have started to go for quantity and not quality when it comes to television after all why bother watching a new show when these networks lately have been known to throw out as many cliched comedies and dramas as possible.
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I think CBS could've solved their Tuesdays at 10 problem by picking up NCIS Red. The NCIS crowd are a dedicated crowd. Even during the summer, NCIS reruns are the highest-rated scripted shows on TV.
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Lessons I Learn Every Year:
1) The current Nielson rating system is stupid and inaccurate.
2) Networks are stupid. They cancel shows that already have followings and then make new crap that gets cancelled as well instead of just letting the old things live until their story is done.
3) Writers are stupid. They don't plan far enough ahead with their stories so when they unfold on camera the audience gets a lot of s***. plot holes, lack of logic, sucky acting, frustrating characters making stupid decisions to move the plot instead of things that are well thought-out, inconsistency, bipolar characters, cop outs, cliches, loose ends, plots that get stretched out so much that you just want the show to die. then it gets cancelled. Writers screw their own shows over! stop holding back!
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4) You Tube videos are the only media that is not frustrating. And they are 100 times funnier than sitcoms.
5) Reruns of shows you like are more entertaining than new s***.
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_1; the appeal of reality TV for me was seeing people make a fool out of themselves ,... and It has gotten really boring after a couple of years,... so I don't think changing the judges or creating new concepts are going to work,...
_2; yes I'll watch a 90 min movie to watch a honk tv star but I will never invest in a 9 months series for an actor,.... who does that?
_3; I think the reason we don't see hits anymore is the fact that it has become a fast world,... get in and do well in 3 episodes or get out,... so shows can not afford to take it slow and make a solid foundation for the characters ,... such a shame,... no one is invested in the shows anymore,... we just watch as audience,....
_4; as an Iranian,... I watch everything online,... so no opinion here,...
_5; see above
_6; I would like to thank that special someone who said '' let's get rid of GG and 90210 ''
_7; as far as comedies go,... I am seeing much originality anymore,... IT's been a long time since I have actually laughed out loud watching tv,...
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I really liked Don't Trust the B**** in Apt 23 and Go On and i'm sad they got canceled. I'm still wondering why the flying f The CW renewed The Beauty and The Beast. That show is more of a train wreck than Amy Winehouse and Courtney Love (when they were on drugs) combined.
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As I have said previously, it's unfortunate that "Vegas" did not survive. That in my opinion was the only new show that I would have liked to see have more than one season.
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What a big fat stupid mistake not picking up the series based on Murphy 's movies. I m in my thieties and i would have given it a big chance since i grew up with those movies
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Golden Boy I thought was picking up in these past few weeks, it really had potential. Go on was a nice little sitcom, Mr. K was one of the funniest characters in recent sitcoms to be honest. And it Hannibal doesn't get renewed or picked up by another network I will be a sad young man.
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I really loved Go On, so sad it was cancelled. I would have traded my other favourite new show The Carrie Diaries for it anytime.
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What did I learn? Download everything, wait till shows are renewed, delete the cancelled and watch the others and then delete half of them for also sucking.
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me too,... I am not gonna watch anything new next season,... I will wait and see,... If they get renewed I may give them a chance,...
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Revenge and Once Upon a Time are amazing. I hope they do better next season. And I am still pissed that ABC cancelled Don't Trust the B**** in Apt 23.
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Revenge imploded simply because it is not progressing and has little potential, am I really expected to watch Van Camp plot and scheme against the Graysons for the next 4-5 seasons? Boring....
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Revenge would have been a fantastic 3 season show about her revenge on the Graysons without this domestic terrorism ordeal,... but I guess nobody is satisfied by that anymore,... success of shows are now demonstrated by how many seasons they last,...
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Don't Trust The Bitch was amazing.
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Watching it right now. :)
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No matter how many times I've tried to not get attached to new shows, I can't help it. As soon as I read the loglines and watch the trailers, I'm hooked.
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I know a lot of people here won't agree with me but I did enjoy Vegas. like many here I went through what the networks had to offer and one by one I stopped watching them because I could not get to grips with what they had to offer but Vegas I don't know what it was but I was hooked maybe because it was a straight run of the mill good guys vs bad guys nothing more nothing less I just wished they gave it a proper chance to take off rather than just kill it off.
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I really enjoyed Vegas as well and was sorry to see it go. Between the writing and the actors I thought they nailed it.

Unfortunately, I guess people just didn't want to watch a period piece that wasn't Mad Men or something from the viking era.
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I have to agree with you on that like I said I have watched other shows but Vegas had something and it would have been a great show if only given the chance.
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RIP Don't Trust the B****, you made me laugh more than many other sitcoms.
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I'll be glad when Dancing With the Stars goes away. Never have understood the fascination some people have with this show. I'd rather watch grass grow or paint dry than watch people dance. I hope this show runs out of steam soon!
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exactly,... I love dancing and watching people dance,.... but why would I want to see some c actress learn to do mediocre numbers ?
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awww i like dwts.. i think it is only hurting because it is up against the voice on both days....
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I simply wish that there were shows that parents and kids can watch together. OUaT is the only close thing right now; "No Ordinary Family" was good, too, but died an early death (and would have died anyway, when they brought in the "agency"). Other than that, there is precious little that will attract a whole family. Kids are either forgotten or so pandered to that the adults are kicked to the curb. It's so bad right now that, before bedtime, the only things we can watch as a family is either "My Little Ponies" On Demand or country music videos.
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yeah... in my house we watch breaking bad as a family but my little sister is always sent to her room... we also used to watch wizards of waverly place but my dad didnt like it.. it is hard to appeal to the whole family but they should at least try
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I don't think the answer is "to make" an adult show the family show or force the adults on a tween show, but to actually make family shows parents and kids could enjoy. We've seen movies like The Croods, Avengers and old classics like E.T. made for the entire family.

Why can't there be TV shows like these too?
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I think that's a really great, interesting point. I think ABC wants SHIELD to be that show. Do you think it would work for your family?
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Good point, I can watch several shows with my parents if I want to, but I'm not a child anymore. The CW may appeal high school audiences but it doesn't appeal their parents too, several ABC shows appeal the parents but not their children too,
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I think the collective lesson is: when the writers have something to say - The Walking Dead, Elementary, Game of Thrones, The Big Bang Theory, etc. - it shows and when they are just repeating a "proven product" - Beauty and the Beast, Hannibal, Carrie Diaries, Revolution, etc. - it shows too.
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I get what you are saying,... it is not about whether it is based on books or anything,... it is about putting thoughts into it,... having a clear view of what is it that they want to do,...
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Some of the repeating-themes are OK though. For example, Elementary is just a play on the old classic Sherlock Holmes but it's a solid show and they did some things to make it "their own." Heck, even the (arguably) superior BBC show "Sherlock" is incredible... and with some minor tweaks here and there it's closer to the source material.

Hannibal... is OK. It's not great and would have been better on cable. But it's a decent show.
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The only thing Elementary has in common with the original books is the name of the leading character. And its not even the name of the show, when the next Sherlock, Hannibal, Beauty and the Beast are nothing by bad copies of the original product is when the problems begin IMO.
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Hmm, *maybe*. Most of the shows you said had something to say (Walking Dead, Elementary, Thrones) are still all based on previous material. And while things like BandB and Revolution aren't particularly good, Hannibal is tremendous. The point there is that even if it's based on previous material, good work is good work.
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Then again, source material is not the same as rehashed material: Hannibal and The Firm are rehashing old movies where The Walking Dead is an adaption of a grahic novel, not a horror movie.

I'm not saying they can't do Bionic Woman, Knight Rider and Charlie's Angels all over again, again. But don't act shocked when Beauty and Beast is nowhere near the same level as the 80s original.

For example, Elementary is not "Sherlock in New York" nor The Big Bang Theory "Revenge of the Nerds X", so why would Revolution have to be "The Hunger Games" with swords?
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One could say the same thing about Beauty and the Beast. The only thing it has in common with the older TV series (or the various tales) is the name. Heck, even much of the underlining theme is gone. They turned The Beast into The Hulk... but where Bruce Banner is a model with a scar on his face.

At least with Elementary... it's a Sherlock Holmes show 2 year after BBC revived a Sherlock series and a couple years after the RDJ movies.

Meanwhile, as much as I like(d) Mentalist + Monk + StandardInvestigatorShowX... they're ultimately copies of copies. Quirky detective, with a skill or point-of-view your average cop doesn't possess, solves crimes with an intelligent (but less-gifted) parter. Throw in a tragic back-story and done. So, Sherlock Holmes without the drugs + violin, and a sad back-story.
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I have noticed that if its got violence, blood, sex and language it usually survivies. I have also noticed that if it requires a lot of thought it doesn't do as well. That being said I really think that showrunners need to have an idea of how things should end as opposed to running the show as long as possible even if the stories suck. I like Burn Notice and while I will miss it during the summer I get how they need to end it after this season. It needs to go out with a bang not a fizzle and I am glad that USA and whoever makes those decisions is not going to keep pushing this show past its prime.

I also get frustrated with the ratings system. How do they figure out what shows are being watched? I don't watch many shows live because my husband and I go to bed early because of work-so we can't even watch shows the same day-at times its weeks before we get to catch up but we always do! What about people like us?
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Fringe survived without language, sex and violence for 5 years. Sometimes the good guys do win, if theyhave something to say and a good storyline.
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I loved Fringe. I do think that there are rare shows that get to tell their story without having to cater to the majority but it isn't a sure thing. Don't get me wrong, I enjoy a few shows that don't require much thought but that is mostly just for laughs and to let my brain wind down but I think that a lot of ppl who make the decisions are afraid that if there isn't sex, violence or some kind of controversy every so often that the show will lose viewers so they wast valuable air time on some stupid tangent that really doesn't move the story forward.
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Hannibal must be renewed!!! if only because its so much better than the following...and the following got renewed!!!!
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Fingers crossed.
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I learned never to trust networks to not fuck up a great premise, and to air episodes of a show in the correct order.
I've learned that there are an awful lot of shite tv shows still on because there is some kind of majority population wanting to watch complete drivel (e.g. Two and half Men, 2 Broke Girls, Family Guy, The Simpsons, Community, Glee Honey Boo Boo, the list is endless...)
I've learned that its getting really annoying that a handful of people in the US who contribute to the Nielson are dictating what alot of us in the rest of the world get to continue to watch. Perhaps networks should look at how shows perform overseas, and if the demand is there, continue to make the series and sell it. No offence, but some shows are too intelligent for the average American viewer, but will be much better received elsewhere.
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It's not necessarily intelligence. My spouse is usually too wasted to remember last weeks story, much less who that important character we saw for 5 seconds three months ago when he pops back onscreen. Luckily he has me to remind him, but apparently not everyone with a Nielson Box does. :)
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i agreed with you except on the average american viewer not being intelligent enough, i don't think it has to do with intelligence but rather a lack of depth.
this is why alot of shows will focus on the monster of the week, or case of the week scenario because it's been proven in certain examples that the majority don't want to follow complex/involved storylines but would rather have a surface level experience without alot of depth.
walking dead, breaking bad, game of thrones proves there is a fanbase out there who does crave more depth and involved story/continuation.
but my guess is the people who contribute the most to the ratings are more surface level people who tune in while flipping through a magazine or watching their kids or something and so find the surface level shows more appealing to where they don't have to be involved or go beyond that surface level.
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Also, that network execs cant get past the dollar signs in their eyes and continue to ruin shows, such as Revenge, which was a great show in its first season, but became a complete chore in season 2. I stuck with it, but with the departure of creator and showrunner Mike Kelley in season 3, I am kind of dreading seeing what will become of it.
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I agree with afronado. The networks only rely on the rating system of 'counting' people watching live television. A lot people (including me) watch online simply because they don't live in the US. The interest and hype is there, maybe just not in front of a television set.
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Yeah, that's a problem and they're trying to fix it. But it's been a problem for decades. The foreign viewership is measured more in foreign sales, which usually happens at the studio level, not the network level.
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what about us? the viewers who are invisible? as an Iranian I have to download everything and I am sure there are a lot of us out there,...
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Sure, but it takes months to export and synchronize those shows and sometimes it's not even worth waiting so long. Take the big reveal on HIMYM for instance. The media were all over this the day after the episode aired in the US. Every social network or news website posted the photo of the mother and this particular episode won't even air here in Germany until next year. It's so ridiculous!
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There is ample TiVo data at their fingertips, i can't for the life of me understand how it's only used for advertising, and not for series development.
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I really hope Hannibal doesn't get the axe just because of its unfavorable timeslot. You know NBC and their vaunted decision making . . .
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I really think that all of these lessons root from a single problem. The outdated ratings system that the networks still rely on. If they can find a way to incorporate internet buzz (with the twitter hashtagging), DVR ratings and all that, a lot of shows will survive longer than 1 season. But sadly, being a "hit" is not having a good show overall, it is about drawing the most audiences to watch their commercials in between the shows.

So... yeah, being a hit is less about the show's quality, and more about who can glue audiences enough to watch the commercials. Fortunately some shows do both (POI anyone?), but I can only name so little. BRING ON THE NEW RATINGS SYSTEM PLEASE!
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I was looking through the Nielsen website and it states on there that both live viewing and same-day DVR playbacks are included in the viewing estimates. Stupid question, but do they not also include them in the ratings then?

Anyone know?
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I am not really sure but I think it does. Seriously though, same day DVR playbacks? Majority of the shows air at nights, which leaves only a few hours (or 24 hours?) to consider the same day DVR playbacks into the estimates. And most people DVR shows because they cannot watch them the SAME DAY it airs. Here's to hoping Nielsen modifies their ratings system!
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DVR is included. But it's still DVR from the same representative (i.e. very small) sample.
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The networks need to adopt the Japan TV system -- 12-13 episodes per order (if a show has major advertising money support behind it, you can give them 24), all 12 episodes aired in a 3 month block (Jan-Mar , Apr-Jun, Jul-Sept, Oct-Dec) (6 month block for 24 episodes) -- NO REPEATS .. If the 12 episodes suffice in the ratings, a new order is placed for airing in the next available 3 month block once produced.. you will also get more shows ,and always run into something new, with little reruns
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Networks air repeats because it's cheaper that way. Heck, nobody runs more repeats than HBO (OK, I guess technically ESPN Classic does, and antenna TV is 100% reruns, but you get the point)
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Although you're talking about a model where the shows themselves are often sold and where much of the revenue for the show comes from the sale of the show. And while I know that holds true with their anime I don't know if it holds true with their live-action shows.
US TV use to have a similar model years ago before VCRs came about. A show was run in it's entirety once from about fall to early spring, then repeated in it's entirely again over the summer. That way if you missed a show the first time around you could catch it completely during it's rerun. This meant that if there were two good shows on at the same time you could watch one then watch the other later and you had entertainment all year round. But with shows mixing reruns into regular runs it's impossible to catch the show just in repeats.
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I learned that CBS should have just left Vegas in its original time slot.
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Would have gotten cancelled anyway.
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Probably (knowing my luck).
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The best thing about CW is that they canceled shitty shows like Gossip girl and 90210.
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xoxo
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what I learned is mostly all network higherups are largely morons.
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Hey! I like the CW and I love Beauty and the Beast.
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I love the CW! Less enthusiastic about Beauty and the Beast, but didn't I say it improved?
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the entire way ratings work and are handled, and what determines a series success needs to be completely changed, it's so ridiculously behind the times.. and the reason most of these major network projects are failing is because the networks have no balls, they don't care to step out of their little box and try new stuff and go in new directions but instead want to continue making the same show over and over that they've had success on some level at one time which appeals to people who are also behind the times along with them.

the fact that something like "happy endings" which was a brilliant, extraordinary series becomes a martyr to this ancient, ridiculous system that's currently in place says everything and shines a bright light on the current state of things.

we need a visionary to come along and find a way to fix all of this, i admit that i don't know the exact solution, perhaps allowing people to download the shows on their website commercial free but needing to click on adds or donate a dollar for each episode or something and adding that to the viewing numbers? or putting up a quick survey for people to fill out so they can get an idea of what people are thinking about the show collectively which could give a better understanding if they should perhaps give a show more time even if it's not destroying in the ratings, like if say the arrow wasn't killing it but through the surveys or polls or something similar to that they see that alot of people are liking it and so that could help in keeping it around.
i don't know, just brainstorming here.. all i know is something needs to be done and i hope it's soon, because i love tv series and want them to do well.
i'm sick of getting attached to a series and really, really enjoying watching for it only to be cancelled befoe it's time.

there's gotta be away to allow a series time to develop and a way to grab hold on special shows like happy endings and not let go.
(i realize it got 3 seasons which i'm eternally grateful for, but cmon... at least 5.. i could've lived with 5 seasons, there was so much left unsaid and so much potential still, if anything it was still getting better and it was already fantastic)

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(forgot to add)
in my opinion, it was the modern day "friends", or at least had the potential to be... which is one of the highest compliments i can give it.
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I learned that more drek like "The Real Housewives of (wherever) and other horrible shows like "Honey Boo-Boo" are taking away from actual good, funny or scripted television shows. I don't wanna see 5 complete c*nts, that think they're "real" because the title of the show says they are or some fat toddler who's about half a snickers bar away from full blown diabetes, eating up the airwaves and great shows like "Happy Endings" get tossed.

Cable is killing off the traditional television show in more ways than just one, unfortunately. A lot of it is great, and definitely worth watching. I'm looking at you 'Shameless', 'Game of Thrones', 'Burn Notice'. But as long as white-trash America continues to support Andy Cohen and all the f@g-hags over at Bravo or TLC, TV doesn't stand a chance.

I'm putting all my money in Netflix stock. Arrested Development!!
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Fox lost my viewership a LONG time ago with wanting to cancel awesome and quality shows because they slightly underperformed, yet keep Simpsons, American Idol, and Family Guy airing for long past the time they should be. Fox picked a loyalty they wanted, losing many people like me, and it seems they are going to be regretting it soon.

I don't 100% discriminate against any show on Fox. It's more of, if I know it's a great show, Fox is likely to cancel it, so why watch it and get my hopes up?
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why on earth would anybody cancel the simpsons ? it is like saying the sun to not shine again,...
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The idea that Fox cancels all these great shows is so problematic. How many of those shows would have gotten on the air if they didn't air at Fox? Fox gave AD three years, numerous good timeslots. Fringe got five years. Dollhouse got two. Sarah Connor got two. Almost Human will probably get at least two, even if its ratings aren't good. They try things, and when you try things, you fail.
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"Werewolf" was just way, way, WAY before it's time.

Sticking with American Idol as long as it was the most popular program on the air not involving football is not exactly a bad business decision, even if it was stupid the whole time. The question is, when the popularity of singing competition shows finally wanes, will Fox be able to ramp up with quality programming to fill the giant, Simon Cowell's-ego sized hole in their schedule?
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Good point about the CW. I assumed that Pedowitz would successfully move away from Dawn Ostroff's stuck on stupid and never ending approach to only pursue the teenage girls that don't watch the channel and instead watch ABC Family and MTV. There's much more of an audience for scifi and comic based things. Ostroff ignored that for way too long. But I don't agree that this is that much more adult; I believe the network has a long way to go on that. Most of the new shows still aren't far from high school aged. And the network is starting to go too far with scifi. Mary Queen of Scots, really? Still though, an improvement over the GG and 90210 abyss the network was stuck in.
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All the shows I watch have 4 things in common:
1) Game Of Thrones
2) Bates Motel
3) The Walking Dead
4) Breaking Bad
5) Sons of Anarchy
6) Homeland
7) Spartacus (ended on its own)
8) Dexter

Commonalities:
1) Not on "network" tv
2) Storyline
3) High production values
4) Freedom of censorship (to a point)
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As far as I'm concerned The Apprentice died about seven years ago and this entire time NBC dug it's corpse up and and has been dressing it up and pretending it's still alive. I seriously don't know what it takes to kill that show.
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Probably Trump's death, honestly.
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Just stick to the good networks HBO, AMC, Starz, FX, and Showtime. Hell even History network is starting some great shows
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broadcast has good shows too: Good Wife, Hannibal, Elementary, Arrow, Vampire Diaries, Nashville, etc. And those are just the dramas!
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"Broadcast" is such a weird term in this context. Isn't there a better term? The cable networks are broadcasting their stuff too. They just do it through cables, instead of by radio waves. "Radio networks" would technically be a better term than "broadcast networks", but it's unusable because people would interpret it as audio only. I've been saying "non-cable network", but now Netflix has ruined that word. I suppose I could say "non-cable, non-internet network".

Hm, I suppose "broadcast network" makes some sense, since the signals reach *everything*, while the signals that are sent over the cable network only reach those who are connected to it.
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You forgot about Supernatural, Nikita and Revenge. :)
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And the best one of all, Person of Interest.
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The best show since 24 ended was on ABC last fall....and it got cancelled.

My lesson: Don't get attached until it's renewed.
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Missing?
The River?
...what show?
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Last Resort. Had a couple of serious quality episodes (mainly ep. 9) that reminded me of 24's glory days.
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I'm still grieving over Enlightened :'(
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Me too:( Such a work of art.
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A lesson I've learned before... But it doesn't seem to stick, because I still get heart-broken over cancellations. (RIP, Go On :'( )
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that no one appears to have the exact same taste in television that I do. and that certainly not everybody does.
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WHAT I LEARNED:
1. Cory is prejudiced against the CW.
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You clearly have never read anything else I've ever written about The CW.
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Perhaps not. I'll correct myself then:
WHAT I LEARNED:
Cory is prejudiced against the CW in this article.
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Survivor The Amazing Race, are simply the best with SYTYCD not far behind(granted its a summer) DWTS has lost some rating not because its getting weaker, reason is Monday is getting stronger overall as for IDOL, 5 years ago I have stated that the pool of talent was shrinking for IDOL and the pool for SYTYCD was growing, IMO nothing has changed so that makes SYTYCD the best reality on Fox it might not show it in the ratings!! So I'm very confused way the Voice is doing to well, I tried it in the first season and thought it suck big time and quit watching!!!!!

now here is a solution, if the networks want to be relevant again compared to Basic Cable, they are going have use more mature content, and language plain and simple
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Kristen Ritter (Don't Trust... & Breaking Bad) and Joseph Morgan (TVD & The Originals) are both super hot and play really great characters. At least The Originals is happening. I hope Ritter lands something else fast. Maybe a movie or another cable show. HBO, Showtime, etc. seem to do good things with great actors.
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Great article as usual, Corey! About #7, the possible reason why it's hard for sitcoms out there is because most of them are all the same, therefore it may not sound interesting and because networks tend to invest more time in sitcoms than dramas. Despite that, there are a few good comedies out there that are still surviving e.g. Community (I'm still amazed that it managed to get another season). #6, glad that The CW is starting to become the SyFy channel since most of the shows I watch are on that network. Although, it'd be nice if they got rid of BATB, TCD and HOD. On an unrelated note, are you guys still doing This vs. That?
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BATB and HOD are awesome I don't watch TCD since I did not watch Sex in the City I agree with you on the sitcoms that is why I gave up on them long long time ago with a couple of exceptions 2 Broke Girls is awesome as was Don't Trust the B
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Sitcoms - It took me awhile to get into the BBT & Community (only comedies that I watch). Started watching BBT in real time within S3 after I caught a rerun and became a fan of Community late S3 after I heard good buzz about it. My lesson when it comes to sitcoms is to seriously consider watching it after waiting out for them to have over 2 seasons and if they have good buzz/reviews.

BATB - I still partially blame it for TSC's cancellation.
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Regarding point 1 is right on the money, "finally!" is how I feel about the news on all 3. And holy crap, that pic of Ryan Seacrest is creepy as hell, worse than Jowly McCombover next to him.

Point 2 is something they should have learned over the last 2 decades, this is nothing new at all. And especially since the 2008 writers strike where actors simply stopped working for a while and became interchangeable - "you're a celebrity? Sure you can be in our commercial for adult diapers!" To be fair to Matthew Perry, NBC is what guided his show into single-season status, great show, bad network.

Point 3, why is there a CW image under a headline with the word "hit" in it? When The CW can't fit its entire audience numbers into the margin between CBS and the #2 network, then they can talk about hits. Anyway, it's really hard for them to create hits because THESE NETWORK CLOWNS SUCK AT THEIR JOBS (except apparently CBS, who suck at their jobs creatively yet understand it enough to work around that). You want people to watch your shows? Make better shows, make better schedules, make better marketing. But they don't, every marketing campaign is "here's the actors in this show, here's the title, and in tiny print here's maybe a mention of when the show's on", only CBS and ABC seem to understand how to stick to their brands (crime and lowest common denominator sitcoms, chick shows, respectively) and that's not how you build hits unless you already have a big audience - that's like the New Yorker cartoon about the young man who inherited millions of dollars and turned it into a fortune.

Point 4 is the thing the nets should have known a decade ago, but instead the hemorrhage viewers to cable. Hell, they're even giving away CONTENT to cable and other alternative outlets, they work to build a brand and then get fickle when the brand isn't a superstar, but there's still a hungry audience and there's money in their pockets. And then look at a network like TNT or USA or FX, these channels build themselves up into a brand with a handful of quality, on-message shows until they start dominating their corner of the universe - they don't need to catch EVERY viewer, just THEIR viewers.

Point 5 is not complete, the timeslots aren't poisonous, the networks are simply blind to the lengths audiences will go for some shows. A show that's cheap but well-written will get DVR eyes, it'll get buzz, it'll get built up given enough time and hope - look at the love Fox got for simply not cancelling Fringe too early. CBS makes a little coin with Fridays, why not the other networks? Too expensive? Bad branding? No focus? Yup. Thursdays at 10pm was owned by NBC for decades, what changed? Was it that people all of a sudden got busy? No, it's that the network leaned on ER until it was out of gas and didn't think to put something really solid together to take over for it, then fell down the rabbit-hole of failures culminating with trying to make Leno the 10pm man every day and following that up with the bland "Rock Center" as its mainstay. Content and marketing and thoughtful scheduling are the problems, not the timeslots.

Point 6 is a laffer. No, it can't. The second those shows slip they'll be out on their asses, they're too expensive and the network's ratings are too fragile. Arrow doesn't have a lot of hope of moving its audience over to other shows, although The Tomorrow People is close. But The Tomorrow People, The Originals, and The 100 may be more adult themes but they're not straying too far from high school in casting or tone. And Arrow is propped up by being a major comic book figure that sells the show overseas, its worst ratings are in the US.

Point 7 is true-ish, these sitcoms ate it for a lot of reasons, some of them were a lack of network faith, some of them were from a lack of network scheduling ability, some of them were just plain crummy, and many of them were poorly marketed. You look at CBS, where they know their audience, they put effort into marketing and scheduling, they prop shows up with strong performers, and you see a network thriving - how many sitcoms did they cancel in '12-'13? Just 2: Partners, for excellent reason, it was bland and unlikable; and Rules of Engagement, which had run for a long time and contracts were probably getting expensive for a show always held on the back burner that wasn't really going anywhere.

Sitcoms are cheap to produce and draw in audiences who are still reeling from the overload of reality shows and who don't want to dip into dramas. But sitcoms often seem like cash cows to networks who want to make demands not unlike a pageant mom - "be more loved, become a star now, smile more, show more leg!" - a pageant mom that gets impatient with results that aren't instantly showing signs of being mega-hits. Sitcoms have relatively fast turnaround, so it's easier to throw one away than stick with it when there's no creative vision, when only the bean counters are behind the wheel and they have no talent to trust. So again, I put the blame on the networks, it's hard out there for a sitcom put on TV by a network. Meanwhile, cable can't get enough sitcoms, FX had to create a second, sitcom-based channel.

You know why CBS continues to grow? It seems to have vision beyond numbers, it filters out the crap either before it gets to the screen or before airing it becomes toxic. ABC continues to grow because it focuses on its specific audiences, women and families. NBC seems to be throwing darts at a wall, and Fox loves pilots but hates trusting shows and audiences.

What else have I learned?
- Networks are trying to sucker advertisers into believing DVR viewers are worth something when they're not, folks watch on the DVR to skip ads, the Live+7 rating is going to be rough sailing.

- Broadcast networks are not getting lean fast enough, they're not finding the competitive niche edge that their cable and online competition is building up with. Networks refuse to adapt, to hone, to give up old traditions that don't work, and are punished with shrinking audience shares.

- TV seasons are starting later and ending sooner, yet networks are blind to the problem because it's cheaper.

- Putting huge months-long breaks into shows still bleeds off their momentum, big shocker.

- Networks will actually pay money to not air episodes they already produced.
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Could it be that less and less people watch tv and more (and more) people watch their shows online? Especially those in the demographic networks are so after? I don't know how it is in the states, but where i live neither i, nor most of my friends don't even own a tv anymore. Of course, like executives are likely to do, they see dropping number (meaningless, almost arbitrary numbers) and panic and make the worst decisions they possibly can.
I like the approach Amazon took with their new projects. They don't have to rely on estimates and glass balls and voodoo to see how much people watch their stuff. I, for instance, liked the Zombieland pilot, but apparently a lot of people didn't. So, while i am not thrilled that they won't pick it up i can certainly understand it.
The point i am trying to make is that if you have a good show these days with a small but solid fan base you are not to cancel and replace it with a most likely worse show without a fan base in the hopes it becomes the new Friends or Lost. It's not the time anymore. And networks ought to understand that.
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I know I do. I'm usually not home when the show's I watch are airing, or I'll have multiple shows I like airing at the same time.
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One very important point - A mere handful of parent companies own, or are in some way partly invested in, a number of networks. If a major network loses viewers, another of the parent company's networks may gain them, or they are spreading their viewers around to all their networks instead of concentrating them into one. The problem is that the parent company likely makes money overall, but the individual networks lose in the long run and so do viewers. The concept of "less is more" seems to have been completely lost on the parent companies. They need to concentrate/consolidate the best programs they can with the best creators into as few networks as possible thereby bringing in more viewers rather than scattering them all over the place.

Add in the fact that you have more than one parent company and that company is losing viewers to another parent company's networks. Add in the fact there is On Demand, Hulu, network websites that offer their shows, people willing to wait to get the DVD or stream through sites like Netflix, and those who download illegally. Add in viewers watching the repeat encores or airings of a show on the same night and/or subsequent nights that may or may not be counted in the ratings, particularly if the first run airing is what matters. Add in DVRs and VCRs (I still own one I use). If this keeps going for the networks, the end result will be 0.

If it were not for seemingly paranoid fears of pirating and illegal downloads, the networks should air their programs live on TV and abandon making the shows available through other means for at least the entire season and then make them available over the summer, at least, if not the next season. This may likely force people to watch rather than wait, but those who wait would likely be an insignificant impact on ratings.

These are two things I believe the networks, parent companies actually, need to do: Get rid of the repetitive waste, distill the best to as few, if not one or two networks, and hold off on making their shows available elsewhere, and the viewers would increase.
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Good article, impartial, fair top work.
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It's gotten harder and harder for viewers to trust their time with any show- with them getting pulled so quickly and another one sent in their places. We have so many choices, and the schizophrenic tendencies of the Major Networks have finally jaded even the people who truly long for something to support faithfully.
And while i am on the subject of faith,I think that the tendency for comedies to be very one-sided and anti-Middle America (for the most part) has left the door wide open for shows like Duck Dynasty to come in and steal whatever ratings were left to grab. Viewers tolerate that kind of comedy from SNL- well because there is always the outside chance an SNL skit might be as funny as one from 20 years ago- or the musical group will come on and make it all better- but with comedies like The New Normal- or 1600 Penn -Middle America knew that by watching that- all the jokes would be on them- and they said, no thanks- pass the mashed potatoes Ms Robertson ;)

Oh, and -God Bless Game of Thrones for coming in and showing us that good actors with great stories and high production values can still exist in this world.
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Great article Cory. The most important thing to me is domination of basic/pay cable. The quality level of those shows are putting the broadcast networks to shame. Add in the fact that the broadcast networks are STILL using the antiquated Nielsens, and the writing is on the wall.

Hardly anyone watches many programs live on regular TV, and if you go to basic/pay cable you don't even need a DVR since you will get repeats all through the week and sometimes the same night.
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I wrote a long reply, and then deleted it to say I just do not understand networks or the Nielsen viewing public. Long Live Happy Endings!
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