Saturday, November 05, 2005

TV Business: "Out of Practice" Picked Up - Advertisers and the Shows They Pay For

Stockard Channing's series "Out of Practice" has been picked up for a full season by CBS.

From Media Week:
"CBS has ordered a full season of its freshman sitcom Out of Practice, which stars Stockard Channing and Henry Winkler. The show has been averaging 11.9 million viewers, and a 3.9 rating in adults 18-49.

While its ratings and audience levels are solid, the show does lose 3.3 million viewers from its lead-in Two and a Half Men, which averages a 5.1 in the 18-49 demo. "

From Broadcasting & Cable:
"CBS has given a full-season order to Monday night freshman comedy Out of Practice.

The sitcom, which features an ensemble cast including Stockard Channing and Henry Winkler, has averaged nearly 12 million viewers overall and is trending up in the adult 18-49 demo Mondays at 9:30 p.m. out of Two and a Half Men.

The show has helped CBS hold down the fort on Monday nights post-Raymond, as fellow freshman Monday comedy How I Met Your Mother was previously given a full-season commitment. Four of the six new CBS shows have now been picked up for the season, including dramas Ghost Whisperer and Criminal Minds."

Analysis from Broadcasting & Cable of why advertisers like seemingly unimpressive such as "Cold Case", which also airs in "West Wing"'s Timeslot:
"Kelly Kahl, CBS/UPN executive VP, scheduling and program planning, says that Cold Case “never has a bad week,” pointing to its 3.7 average this season in adults 18-49—a three-year high for the show, despite consistent delays from football doubleheaders. And yet the show has not engendered much media interest, Kahl says, probably because the bounty of procedural dramas on CBS means that the shows “tend to get lumped together by the press.”

Even without the buzz, Madison Avenue has warmed to Cold Case. According to industry estimates, a 30-second spot on Cold Case costs north of $130,000, which is about 10% higher than a spot on the competing, higher-profile West Wing on NBC. A sure sign of Cold Case’s strength, despite the buzz deficit: TNT paid $1.4 million per episode to start syndicating it this season (not long ago, A&E paid a little over $1 million per episode for CSI: Miami)."

Earlier in the article, an attempt at an explanation for this phenonmenon is given:
"During the TV advertising upfronts last spring, CBS held a press briefing early one morning at its Black Rock headquarters in New York. During Leslie Moonves’ remarks, an apparently caffeine-deprived TV critic heard the network chief mention the comedy Yes, Dear. Suddenly roused, the critic piped up: Why had it taken so long for CBS to cancel the show?
Awkward silence. Moonves had just announced that the 20th Century Fox Television show was being renewed for 22 episodes beginning this fall.
Fast-forward to the Nov. 7 issue of The New Yorker. Nancy Franklin, reviewing My Name Is Earl and Everybody Hates Chris, takes a passing swipe at Yes, Dear, calling it “an unpleasant traditional sitcom that has somehow chugged along for five years.”
Not to worry. Just a couple of typical days at the coal mine for Yes, Dear, a member of the club that no one wants to join but that networks would fight to the death to defend. They are the stealth shows of TV: the sitcoms, dramas, clip shows and unscripted fare that might raise nary a blip on the media’s pop-culture-cool-detecting radar but would cause heart attacks in network accounting departments if they met the fate that many critics wish on some of them.
Stealth shows are shunned by Emmy voters, dismissed by critics (though some shows, especially dramas, are much better received than others) and ignored by assignment editors. But they deliver a consistent audience, longevity and the promise of a lucrative backend—which can do wonders to help cushion the embarrassment they might cause a network promoting itself as the home of quality programming.
In other words, stealth shows like Yes, Dear—and ABC’s America’s Funniest Home Videos, NBC’s Crossing Jordan and a host of others—somehow chug along for years because networks dearly need them.
Not that the network executives show them much love. With promotional budgets especially tight these days and increasingly devoted to a handful of new shows that networks consider their best bets to succeed, the producers of stealth shows are feeling more neglected than ever. Some of the frustrated producers, weary of hoping for promotion that never comes, are devising ways to court viewers on their own. Network executives plead their case by saying that, unlike established series with a solid following, new and second-season shows require the lion’s share of promotion in order to generate the sort of buzz and viewership that ensures their survival."

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