21 April 2024

‘Will fear of TV cancellations become a thing of the past?’

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Todd VanDerWerff on the declining importance of ratings in television:

“…The most obvious changes are the invention of the DVR and the increasing willingness of networks…to take long-range ratings data (including DVR numbers) into consideration for renewals. Even a few years ago, networks were hesitant to talk about DVR viewership beyond the first couple of days after air. Yet at the most recent Television Critics Association press tour, Fox president Kevin Reilly was talking about live-plus-30 numbers—that is to say ratings numbers that include the number of viewers who watch a program over the first 30 days after air—and when asked whether she thought such an idea was nuts, Nina Tassler, chair of CBS Entertainment, suggested that she was fine with it, so long as advertisers would pay up. And increasingly, it would seem, they are… 

…Yet DVRs—and online streaming—can’t account for all of these changes, for the fact that even the biggest networks are more and more interested in keeping around marginal-to-terrible performers if they attract even the slightest amount of buzz, critical or otherwise. What’s happening isn’t that networks have taken leave of their senses or have run out of options and are just throwing stuff on the air they know will get a certain number (though some degree of both may be true). What’s happening is that TV shows increasingly are seen less as immediate performers and more as long-term assets. The rise of Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime in the world of TV has proven to be comparable to the rise of DVD in the world of film. It’s pumping ridiculous amounts of money, even for catalog items, into the fragile network economy. Network TV may no longer occupy the center of the broadcast universe, but it doesn’t need to. A good show, a show that people will want to binge-watch, can pop up anywhere, and the potential upside for it, even if it tanks in its first run, is enormous.” 

Click here for the full article from the AV Club.

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