Stupid Network Tricks

One of the stages of dealing with a problem is acceptance. If that’s the case, then NBC has finally confessed to a problem it’s been having for years. Although things aren’t going to get better for the network.

According to Time, NBC’s president earlier this week said the network would be moving away from creative, sophisticated shows (specifically naming Community) and try to focus on shows that could attract a broader audience. His network has actually been doing this for years, starting with deciding to run The Apprentice during the Thursday night comedy block about 10 seasons ago. They’ve made a number of similar decisions since (such as choosing the current host of the Tonight Show) and while they’ve had some creative, different shows (like the aforementioned Community), they haven’t done much to support or market them. And these shows they’ve aired for broader audiences haven’t always attracted viewers.

This declaration is seemingly reversing course for NBC. In the early 80s, NBC was last in the ratings and because it took a chance on many niche shows, by the end of the decade, it was the highest-rated network for more than 10 years. NBC thinks these shows with broader appeal will bring it more viewers. The thing is, it doesn’t always work that way. The creative shows, the shows people are passionate about are not always the same shows large audiences watch.  But they are the shows people invest in, whether it’s patronizing a sponsor to save a show (like the Save Chuck campaigns which made Subway a lot of money) or buying DVDs. The creative shows don’t always start out with a large viewer base, but that doesn’t mean it can’t grow into one.

Consider NBC’s biggest money maker of the past 20 years, Seinfeld. I’ve been watching a lot of Seinfeld DVDs recently so I’m familiar with the story- the pilot premiered in 1989 and the show didn’t develop a decent following until mid ’92. Additionally, were the pilot presented to NBC today, the network would take a huge pass on the show. The Seinfeld pilot tested horribly, with viewers complaining the show was “too New York” and “too Jewish,” hallmarks of a show that could be considered niche. Yet given time, the  show became the highest rated and helped NBC become the top rated network of the 90s.

Yet today, with the goal of a “broad audience,” shows like Seinfeld, The Cosby Show or Hill Street Blues (all revolutionary at the time that ended up being huge hits) would never have gotten on the air.

Warming Glow raises another good point, that with its new focus, NBC could also be giving up the edge in something important to advertisers, young viewers:

CBS is the highest rated network, but the average age of a CBS viewer is 52! Those old people are dying off. Nielsen ratings will soon be replaced with a more accurate ratings system. Streaming video on laptops, iPads, and smart phones is the future, and no one is going to stream f****king Two and a Half Men or Mike and Molly on their iPads. Who is going to download episodes 2 Broke Girls on iTunes?

You want to get the most bang out of your advertising buck? You need appointment viewing shows, and shows that are talked about on the Internet (Warming Glow is like a second marketing arm for NBC’s Community. No, strike that. NBC doesn’t actually market Community, so we’re their primary marketing team). Television sets should be considered a way for viewers to sample programming that they’ll get invested in enough to watch in other mediums, where we actually have to 1) buy an episode or download it, or 2) watch on the network websites were commercial skipping is not an option, 3) order seasons on DVD (or digital downloads), or 4) watch on Netflix or Amazon, which will pay huge licensing fees for them (in the future, Netflix and Amazon Instant will be the new syndication money).

Read more:

The way broadcast stations make money is based off of Neilsen numbers. But people don’t watch TV the same way they did when the Neilsen system is developed. I rarely watch live TV anymore. Even for shows like Community, I’ll watch it on my computer nine minutes after it starts so I can skip the commercials. And I’m sure I’m not the only person who does this.

I’m not the one with a billion-dollar broadcast network. So NBC can make its decision to keep shooting for the big (but not loyal) audience it will never get. Admitting a problem is one thing. Taking steps to fix the problem is another.

Lost: Moving On

Two years ago today, my biggest pre-Hope reason for blogging stopped: LOST aired its final episode.

I’m not trying to sound melodramatic, but since the last episode of Lost, television hasn’t been the same for me. There are some shows I am still really into (Community, Parks and Recreation), but I haven’t started watching a new hour-long drama in the last two years. It’s more interesting to me to go back and watch Lost than to get into something new. I’m not watching it all the time, I think I’ve only done a large-scale re-watch once since getting the complete season set.

Still, there’s nothing else that’s gripped me as much as Lost did. Not only that, but also that I have a kid now means I don’t spend as much time watching TV as I used to.

A lot has been said about the final episode- some people hated, some people thought it ended the series nicely. I have to say I thought it was a great end to the series (two years later and that hasn’t changed). There are a lot of questions that weren’t answered, but the characters came full circle.

I’ve joked before about wanting more Lost. And in a small way, part of me still does. But when I look at it, I think the show had a great run and ended at the right time.

Because Kids Like to Say Salsa

I found out that today for snacktime at Hope’s school they had salsa.

While I’m happy her food choices keep expanding, I’m happier for the excuse to bust out one of my favorite routines.

(Unfortunately, I can’t embed the video), so I’ll include the text:


GEORGE: Why don’t they have salsa on the table?

JERRY: What do you need salsa for?

GEORGE: Salsa is now the number one condiment in America.

JERRY: You know why? Because people like to say “salsa.” “Excuse me, do you have salsa?” “We need more salsa.” “Where is the salsa? No salsa?”

GEORGE: You know it must be impossible for a Spanish person to order seltzer and not get salsa. (Angry) “I wanted seltzer, not salsa.”

JERRY: “Don’t you know the difference between seltzer and salsa?? You have the seltezer after the salsa!”

Good News for the Greendale Human Beings

I’m not going to pretend my post from this weekend had anything to do with it, but Community will be back on the air next month.

Unfortunately, Community’s return to the schedule means Parks and Recreation will be off the air for a few weeks, but I think I can handle that. Also, I received this in the mail today:

Part of me is tempted to wait until this weekend. I could watch the Foosball clip another 100 times to hold me over until then.


Netflix the Newest Part of Anti-Community Conspiracy

This morning, I got an e-mail from Netflix saying they received back from me a copy of Community Season One, disc one.

Normally (even with the lack of things to blog about), I wouldn’t write about this. But there’s a catch- Netflix shipped the DVD to me Thursday and I never received it.

I called Netflix and explained the problem. They said they would send me another copy, which I should expect Tuesday. That’s all well and good but, I was hoping to watch Community this weekend.

I don’t watch much current TV. Since Lost and 24 ended, the only shows I watch the night they air are Parks and Recreation and The Office (more out of commitment to what the show used to be than to what it is today).

I would include Community on that list, but because NBC prefers bland, middle of the road cliche sitcoms to groundbreaking comedies, Community is on hiatus. This is not the first time NBC has chosen to stupidly go this route (in essence, NBC is Britta-ing itself).

Community is a different show, with perhaps a more narrow appeal, yet I haven’t heard one person say they find the Whitney show funny. Nor have I seen any fan movement to keep the horrible Are You There Chelsea on the air.

So while these two shows waste timeslots and plunge NBC deeper in the ratings hole, new episodes of Community sit on the shelf (or are locked up in the secret government warehouse). And my plans to start watching the show from the very beginning are on hold until next week.

So while I wait, I’ll just keep watching this clip, which woke me up laughing a few nights after I saw it:

We Have to Go Back

A few months ago, I wrote that it was about time for another season of Lost to start up.

Of course, the show ended a year ago, so that new season wasn’t happening.  And today marks the year anniversary of the finale, which I recently re-watched.  My reaction to the finale was pretty much the same as it was when I was re-watching the whole series in December- I didn’t expect any more answers, so it was fun to concentrate on the characters and their journeys.

Lost managed to combine great characters with intriguing mysteries and a mythology that one could get (excuse the term) lost in.  I don’t think I could get as wrapped up in another show as much as I was with Lost, and I’m not exactly looking to.

Since Lost ended, we got a nice little epilogue, a Weezer CD named after one of the main characters and a tease of a new show starring Terry O’Quinn and Michael Emerson.  But the show’s creators and producers have moved on to other things, and there won’t be a season seven.  Even though every single question may not have been answered, I’m fine with that.  Most of the characters (pretty much everyone except for Michael) got a happy ending and enough of the questions were answered to make the whole thing not seem like a waste.

Even though there’s no future for Lost, I’m glad I have my DVDs and can go back and watch anytime.

I Think I Know Where Jack Bauer’s Been

One year ago, Jack Bauer was a wanted man, advised to leave the country by a President forced to declare Bauer a criminal.

Yesterday, terrorist mastermind Osama bin Laden was killed by American forces in Pakistan, reportedly the victim of getting shot in the face.

In all seriousness, this is some good news for the United States and thank you to all the servicemen and women who protect our country.

Answering Life’s Important Questions

On last night’s episode of Chuck, several characters were asked to name their favorite non-Connery Bond.  It’s something I’ve thought about a lot.  Here’s my list (to be fair, in certain moods, I may prefer some of the top three on this list to certain Connery performances):

    1. Lazenby
    2. Craig
    3. Brosnan
    4. Moore (Live and Let Die – For Your Eyes Only)
    5. Any of the actors who portrayed Agent James Bond in the 1967 version of Casino Royale
    6. Barry Nelson
    7. Dalton
    8. Moore (Octopussy – A View to a Kill)

Chuck Versus The Lost Shout Out

This evening, The Civee and I were watching Chuck and something caught my eye.  One of the supporting characters obtained a keycard with some familiar numbers inscribed on it:

As if that reference to Lost wasn’t enough tonight, later on in the episode, they turn the card over to a familiar face:

Seeing the numbers was cool.  Seeing Francois Chau (who didn’t only play Dr. Chang, but also provided the voice of Quick Kick on the old G.I. Joe cartoon) was a nice touch.

Chuck isn’t Lost, but it’s a good, fun show, which is all I ask for.