Tuesday, April 13, 2010

How NBC, CBS, ABC are letting Fox off the hook by not offering Sit Coms every night of the week.

It all started with the Jay Leno move to 10:00 pm. NBC and Jay Leno hyped the move to 10:00 pm as being a progressive, trend setting move. Then I read how television producers were livid at losing those precious five hours of prime-time programming to a talk show slot.

I have since noticed some really questionable programming time slot decisions by all of the major broadcast channels. My theory is this all started because of the explosive popularity of American Idol several years ago, the other networks counter programmed with their own reality tv shows. At that time this probably made a lot of sense. Why spend a lot more money producing original programming only to be trounced in the ratings by a less expensive to produce reality tv show? But that was then, and this is now.

Now the pendulum has swung in the other direction and sit coms and the moving of Jay Leno back to his old time slot have opened up some original programming, except for Tuesday night. There are NO sit coms on Tuesday night, but on Wednesday night, ABC sit coms compete directly with CBS. But what is just as dumb is CBS goes directly from two sit coms on Wednesday to the grizzly show Criminal Minds. If I sit down to watch the New Adventures of Old Christine and Gary unMarried (which hasn't been on lately), why would I then want to watch a show like Criminal Minds?

Even crazier, ABC has FOUR sit coms on that same Wednesday night, each one is very good and these four ABC sitcom shows are surprisingly different from each other. I seem to recall none of them using a laugh track, either, which I consider to be a very bold move.

CBS has four sit coms on Monday, but none on Tuesday. I consider Tuesday the sit com black hole of prime time television. I believe ABC, NBC and CBS are blowing it by NONE OF THEM offering a sit com on Tuesday night, which is playing into the hands of Fox Television quite nicely.

I think it is safe to say that sit coms can once again be more popular than aging reality tv series like American Idol or Dancing with the Stars. I also think that a good sit com has a longer shelf life because it is more likely to end up on a cable channel being re run over and over than a reality tv show, and a good sit com shot on film may have the longest shelf life of all.

As cable television channel offerings expand, it appears to me that the good sit coms that shot at least 150 episodes are the ones that stand to make the most consistent revenue stream once the show is retired its original run. ABC and CBS are just knocking each other silly on Wednesday night with their competing sit coms while neither network has even one sit com on Tuesday night.

Counter programming has not come full circle yet, but it should. Nowadays, if ABC has a reality tv show on, and NBC has a police show on, of course CBS can have a sit com on. I would rather watch a good sit com over a reality tv show, and to not give me and others like me that type of choice every night of the week is just playing into Fox television's hands since Fox has no sit com's that come to mind.

Fox has moved away from sit coms and the other network's should not parrot the move. It no longer makes sense to avoid competing against American Idol with sit coms since American Idol is showing its age. What I think has rejuvenated the sit com is that it no longer has to be locked into one or two rooms with a fake soundtrack. ABC is proving the power of no laugh track with their Wednesday night sit com programming that seems to also have more locations then the more conventional and just as popular sit coms on CBS.

And that is the key, because CBS and ABC are using different styles of sit coms, both styles can remain popular without weakening the overall popularity of sit coms.

The studios have rejuvenated the sit come genre but are still afraid to make an offering every night of the week and instead mistakenly believe they should program their sit coms against each other, which must please Fox Television and their lack of a sit com option, immensely.

I'm somewhat surprised that SAG and AFTRA have not gently encouraged ABC, CBS and NBC to offer sit coms on Tuesday night, which has become to be known as reality TV hell from my perspective.


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