Money talks and the shows we really like – the top quality, complicated tales of drama go by the wayside because “the tribe has spoken,” as they say on Survivor. That tribe being the television watchers. That “tribe” usually wants to come home, eat dinner, sit down and unwind with mindless, easy to follow banter. At least that’s my take on the Nielsen family from what I’ve seen succeed out there. Hence why reality TV is such a successful niche. It’s fun, easy to follow, they spell it out excessively and we get to watch other people b*tch slap each other emotionally. Hehehe.
The writers’ strike has been blamed for a lot of deficiencies this year in ratings and I’m not buying it. Jericho took a ratings dive, but was a hit on iTunes. (Oh!!! By the way, bonus tidbit: The CW is bringing repeats of Jericho to Sunday nights starting November 30th.)
When a show does better on iTunes than on the network, that tells me people are tired of the timeslot in which networks air shows. People want to watch their shows on their own terms. We are a busy people with little or no time at the end of a long and busy workday. IE: Happy hour rules and so does quality time with the family, but we still want our shows… but on our terms. Thus the growing popularity of “time-shifting” via DVRs.
I think I have a spy in my office. While I’ve been putting this diatribe of an article together, the AP put out something similar today, so here’s a little bit more to the whole mess:
“Time-shifting” is a distinct growing trend. Right now it’s estimated that more than 30% of homes have at least one DVR. One network estimated that 17% of their shows were watched at some time other than when they were broadcast. (Pay attention Tim!) The most time-shifted show? 28% of the viewers for The Office record and watch later. The shows with the most time-shifted audiences are action shows and serialized dramas. Noted were shows like Fringe,Heroes and Grey’s Anatomy. Pop quiz: What’s the least time-shifted shows? Deal or No Deal (Love the outfits ladies!), 60 Minutes and King of the Hill.
The very act of time-shifting has kept The Office on the air. Otherwise it would have gone kaput! Yet DVRs also hurt new shows and they don’t establish themselves strongly enough to stay afloat.
The oddity of the DVR is that a show may be very popular, but it doesn’t earn enough. Strangely, CBS execs say that DVRs will become obsolete as TV’s and computers work together more and more. And strangely, they see these trends but seem mum on where things are going with this advent.
Though they speak heavily to the DVR, they seemed to leave out the presence of online viewing. The networks offer online versions of their shows with a few ads and there are a few sites out there that help you keep track of and view shows online, such as Hulu.com.
With Hulu, things are cool. I created an account, figured out how to add my favorites to my lineup, and Hulu emails me when my show is ready for viewing. I then go online and wala, settle in for my own show times. Right now, they have 24: Redemption ready for viewing!
So as these trends in marketing measures keep up and advertisers pull strings to get shows canceled because of their precious sales metrics, I have a prediction:
Some years ago, an older network, UPN (United Paramount Network) started showing their network logo in a semi-transparent fashion in the lower right corner of their broadcasts. Now this is ubiquitous – every single network does it.
Sooner or later, I anticipate that someone in the advertising world will finally talk to the right person somewhere and we’ll start seeing product advertising of a permanent nature within our television programs. It’s already happened on a few occasions in NASCAR when they ran a race from Lowe’s Motorspeedway in Charlotte, N.C. “uninterrupted” while showing advertising at the bottom of the screen. I think it was a test, but they told us it was a bonus. (What else would you expect from ABC, but DO NOT get me going about ABC’s treatment of motor sports.)
The Sci-Fi Channel constantly barrages us with distracting ad banners for their own shows that take up almost the bottom third of my screen. TNT does this too.
I think with the way ratings and advertisers disappointments are headed, this premise of logos in shows and ad banners at screen bottoms are going to be picked up by advertisers and integrated into the end product so that no matter how, where or when the product is viewed, viewers are going to be exposed to the advertiser and they (the ad moguls) get their exposure.