Thursday, July 27, 2006

Network Viewer Grows Desperate

I just finished NY Times TV columnist Bill Carter's new book, Desperate Networks, which goes behind the scenes of the four major broadcast networks (NBC, CBS, ABC, and FOX) to detail how--and why--broadcast television has changed in the first years of the twenty-first century. Judging from last nights offerings on those very same networks, however, one thing has not changed, and that is the tendency of networks to fill their schedules with endless clones of whatever the year's hot show happens to be.
This year the template of choice is
American Idol and this summer, following the unprecedented success of Idol's fifth outing, there are no less than five Idol style talent competitions currently running, with four of them all competing for viewers during last night's eight o'clock hour. While NBC offered up America’s Got Talent, ABC countered with The One: Making A Music Star, CBS put up Rock Star: SuperNova and Fox threw in with So You Think You Can Dance.
This is precisely the kind of network programming “strategy” that has fueled the growing and ongoing defection of viewers to cable and the Internet (where I am glad to have you) or away from TV altogether, a trend that doesn’t seem likely to reverse itself any time soon--not if last night is any indication of what the networks are doing to win back viewers.

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