Monday, March 03, 2008

Just Some TV Stuff

For those interested in the television business, this is one of my new favorite websites: TV by the Numbers. It's got Nielsen ratings and all sorts of various break downs.

The site offers some interesting features, such as this break down of the numbers for Jericho. Unfortunately for Jericho fans, the numbers don't look so good. When the show started, the show averaged over 10 million viewers an episode, numbers that declined to the 7-8 million range last spring. The first three episodes of the new season seem to be doing a bit worse, questionable territory, especially for a show that's so costly to produce. I don't think there's much hope that CBS will bring the show back.

What I'm curious about is whether or not the show could be maintained and continued on cable, where viewership above the 5 million mark would mean a ratings bonanza. As cable television has thrived with original programming over the last decade, I'm surprised more canceled network shows haven't made the jump to cable. Jericho is the perfect example of a show that can't quite garner enough viewers in the general tv watching public to make the show financially viable, but has more than enough invested fans to make continued broadcast and DVD sales a worthwhile enterprise. But it hasn't happened much, at least not yet.

Last summer, NBC made the decision to move the most rating challenged of it's Law and Order family, Law and Order: Criminal Intent, to cable, broadcasting new episodes on USA. The move worked well, particularly during the strike, when at the height of the writer's strike NBC was able to re-broadcast some of the new episodes that had only been previously seen on cable. Law and Order is a huge franchise, not so much for the die hard fans and DVD sales, but because the stand alone episodes do remarkably well in syndication. What I don't understand is that from a business perspective, why would you not want to take a look at canceled network properties? Sure, there's plenty of garbage, but no one is talking about bringing back the shows that were derided by critics and ignored by fans. We're talking about the halfway decent programs that are potential money making sources. Maybe there's something I'm missing, but if I was a cable exec, I'd love to be able to have a show like Jericho.


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