September 21st, 2011
05:31 PM ET
To paraphrase Steve Martin’s character in “The Jerk”: The new fall season is here! The new fall season is here!
Over the next few weeks, we’ll be inundated with new shows and returning favorites. For a TV junkie like me, the launch of the fall season is filled with excitement, anticipation, energy… and a fair amount of regret.
You see, I’d like to watch everything. And when I say everything, I mean EVERYTHING. There are some shows I’m looking forward to, and other shows that deserve a three-episode trial (that’s my standard). Even the shows I think are going to be horrible deserve a single viewing. After all, it’s only fair to actually watch something if you’re planning to be critical about it.
The problem is, I haven’t yet invented a system that provides me enough hours in the day – or enough tuners on my DVR – to make that a reality. (Yes, I know I can watch shows online, but my issues with that are another blog post for a different time.)
And so today, I prostrate myself before broadcast network executives with a one-word solution: reruns!
Once upon a time, rerun was a four-letter word in the TV industry. If you aired one, you were releasing your audience to go find something else to do. Then some genius came up with a brilliant marketing ploy: Stop calling them reruns. They’re encore presentations. (Oooh, sounds snazzy.)
These encore presentations gave viewers the right to miss initial airings without missing an episode entirely. They gave the networks a chance to cultivate an audience that they might have missed. It’s a win-win.
And unfortunately, it’s something that not enough networks are willing to try.
Cable channels do this ad nauseum, mostly to fill up programming because they don’t have enough of it. Of the broadcast networks, The CW tends to try this the most. Again, mostly because they don’t have a full seven-day, three hours of primetime programming lineup.
But the major broadcast nets (I’m sorry, CW, I still see you as an also-ran) use this tactic sparingly, if at all. NBC seems to be the only one trying out these encore presentations, and for the most part, it's not trying them with its new shows. [Editor's Note: "Unforgettable," "Revenge" and "Person of Interest" premieres will re-air over the weekend. Ask, and you shall receive!]
Here’s an idea: Instead of filling up 20 plus hours of programming – some of it with shows you KNOW are going to do horribly and that you’re going to cancel sooner rather than later – why not focus on the shows that you really feel have a chance? And instead of yanking them if their initial airing performs poorly, why not try re-running them (sorry, airing an encore presentation) again over the weekend… or late at night… or on one of your cable channels?
The possible downside is that the network has lower-than-expected ratings during the initial airing if people choose to watch the encore.
The possible upside: You’ve developed an audience by giving another chance to people who may have been forced to make other shows a priority.
Networks, I promise, I want to watch your shows. I want to give all of them a chance. All I’m asking is for you to give me the opportunity to do that. Because if you force me into making a choice about what to watch… well, I will.
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