In closing out the first week of 2017, we compiled a list of TEN things we would like to see from the broadcast networks this year (in no particular order) and split them up into two separate postings — the second of which will go up on Monday:
#1 – More Prime-Time Replays of Enduring Classics
CBS has aired colorized versions of its 1950s comedy classic I Love Lucy over the last few years and they have done quite well — averaging 7.33 million L+SD viewers over six airings. When ranked against today’s shows in that metric, they place 23rd out of 97 shows season-to-date between CBS’s The Great Indoors and ABC’s Modern Family.
The practice was expanded to The Andy Griffith Show (1960-1968) in 2015 and The Dick Van Dyke Show (1961-1966) in 2016 — generating a respective 5.19 million and 7.41 million L+SD viewers. When ranked against today’s shows in that metric, they place a respective 50th (between CBS’s Pure Genius and ABC’s America’s Funniest Home Videos) and 21st (between CBS’s Criminal Minds and CBS’s The Great Indoors) out of 97 shows.
Instead of limiting these colorized replays to December and May, increase their frequency and expand into other enduring b&w classics such as The Honeymooners (1955-1956) and the first season (1962-1963) of The Lucy Show (1962-1968) before it switched to color. They are inexpensive, family-friendly ways to fill programming holes.
#2 – More Live TV
We have live sports, live awards shows and live musicals — but very few live sitcoms. Last season, NBC’s Undateable aired its third and final season completely LIVE. Though it didn’t do much for the show’s ratings (largely because it had been scheduled for Friday nights), it was very exciting for those of us who watched and the show took full advantage of its opportunity with call-in numbers and tongue-in-cheek references to the day’s events as proof that it was airing live.
It also helped that the cast was made up of quick-thinking stand-up comedians who were engaging with fans even while on the air. But NBC still has this opportunity with The Carmichael Show and its cast of actors with live performance experience and CBS has Mom with a stellar cast that could be more than up for the task. Live TV is still highly-promoteable and could be a boon for a promising show’s ratings (or at the very least trend on Twitter).
#3 – Less Focus on Younger Demos
In case you hadn’t noticed, we speak primarily in Total Viewers because the continued importance of the A1849 demo has become a bit of a joke to us given their ever-dwindling numbers. The median age of the broadcast TV viewer is well out of that range because the younger end of it does not watch TV the same way previous generations had. And the prevailing mindset behind their continued importance has become just as outdated to us.
So unless we start talking about these demo numbers in L+7, L+14 or L+21 — and until Nielsen’s Total Content Ratings measurement becomes available, we need a new demo focus (we’re thinking A2554 or A35+), an appreciation for the older viewer or a way to bring the younger viewers back to broadcast TV.
#4 – More Sponsorships and Fewer Ads
Just this morning Broadcast & Cable reported from a panel at the CES Conference in Las Vegas that Linear TV Needs New Advertising Models because there are too many commercials.
This season, NBC’s Saturday Night Live reduced its ad load by 30% this season in favor of branded content — which the show also produces. And NBC’s recent live presentation of the musical Hairspray included live ads that were fun to watch.
Where to from here?
Well, viewer-submitted ads as called for and selected by the agencies and advertisers could be a lot of fun to watch (as long as they don’t put anyone out of work).
In the 1950s and 1960s, entire programs were sponsored by one advertiser with integrated ads often featuring the stars of the sponsored shows. To a certain extent, this could easily be tested with the prime replays of classic shows — and reduce the need for editing. It could also be tested with a new show in development whose budgets aren’t as high as more established shows.
Either way, it’s all worth a shot on the way to coming up with new and more innovative advertising models.
#5 – NO MORE Remakes, Revivals or Reboots
Currently we have remakes of Hawaii Five-O on CBS (the original series ran from 1968 to 1980 on CBS), The Flash on the CW (the original series ran from 1990 to 1991 on CBS), The Odd Couple on CBS (the original series ran from 1970 to 1975 on ABC) and MacGyver on CBS (the original series ran from 1985 to 1992 on ABC).
Last season, we had FOX’s revival of The X-Files (which originally ran from 1993 to 2002 on FOX), ABC’s new version of The Muppet Show (which originally ran in syndication from 1976 to 1981), NBC’s reboot of Heroes (which originally ran from 2006 to 2010 on NBC) and ABC’s remake of Uncle Buck (which originally ran from 1990 to 1991 on CBS).
Before that we had remakes of ABC’s The Bionic Woman (1976-1978) in 2007 on NBC, FOX’s Beverly Hills, 90210 (1990-2000) on the CW from 2008 to 2013, NBC’s Knight Rider (1982-1986) on NBC from 2008 to 2009, FOX’s Melrose Place (1992-1999) on the CW from 2009 to 2010, NBC’s Ironside (1967-1975) on NBC in 2013 and CBS’s Beauty and the Beast (1987-1990) on the CW from 2012 to 2016.
A reboot of 24 (2001-2010) debuts after the Super Bowl — just 2 1/2 years after first being revived — and a revival of Prison Break (2005-2009) starts in the spring.
When will it end?
Given the announcements of a remake of the sacrosanct Honeymooners and a reboot of Charmed, it doesn’t appear as if it will happen anytime soon.
Why not just air digitally remastered reruns of these shows instead? It has to be cheaper.
Come back for Part 2 on Monday morning.
What would you like to see from the broadcast networks this year?