Wednesday, November 7, 2007
"Just ask the cast and crew of "Jericho" how much losing momentum could be a killer.
Last season, networks experimented with long mid-season breaks, similar to what SciFi Channel had been doing for years with shows like "Stargate SG-1" and "Stargate: Atlantis." Except it happened with disastrous results.
"Heroes" and "Lost" both suffered significant drops in their ratings when they returned after a lengthy mid-season hiatus, and "Jericho" went from being an early season standout to a late-season near-flop, to the point that CBS pulled the plug."
"This November sweeps is like no other sweeps period in memory. There are few of the stunts that the networks famously used in years past to boost ratings of local affiliates for setting ad rates, but there're lots of other issues for media buyers to ponder, and not the least of which is the strike by the Writers Guild of America that began yesterday. ABC is expected to win sweeps because of the high quality of its new and returning shows, and that's not expected to change--primetime shows have been backed up--but it's anyone's guess when it comes to late night, which will see the effect immediately, and daytime, which could be hurting shortly."
"Ultimately, the legacy of a prolonged strike could reduce the audience for network TV at a time when it has already been losing viewers for years to cable, DVDs and the Internet. Numbers from May 2007 show that the combined viewership of the four major broadcast networks - ABC, CBS, NBC and Fox - dropped by 2.5 million from the previous spring.
The last time there was a 22- to 23-week strike [in 1988], the networks lost 10 percent of their audience," says David Bianculli, TV critic for NPR's Fresh Air and tvworthwatching.com. "That's a huge chunk, and they'll lose at least that much now. It's going to be more and more difficult to convince viewers to come back."