Open Season on Disappointing Shows

Thanks to Chaz for sending this in

From: New York Daily New

It’s Open Season On
Disappointing Shows
Fall skeds will be in play as nets
trot out prospects

Daily News Staff Writer

BS tomorrow will give advertisers a look at what its programmers have up their sleeves for next fall. The Eye Network’s rivals will stage similar events in Los Angeles next week, � and the development season will be under way in earnest.

The reaction network executives get from advertisers, combined with their own sense of their programs’ development, will seal the fate of those shows still teetering between renewal and cancellation.

Indeed, for a handful of shows at each of the networks, the coming weeks will be do-or-die time � though there will be more dying than doing.

A rare, sudden burst of viewer interest could save a show, though the reality of television is that by this point, fates are pretty much sealed.

In most cases, the only thing that can save a show sitting on the bubble, as the phrase goes, would be a bad development season at the network level.

‘Party of Five’ lived on the cancellation bubble.
Still, several factors are at work when programmers decide who will be on next season’s grids.

“A lot of it has to do with the audience that a show is attracting,” said Stacey Lynn Koerner, vice president of broadcast research at TN Media. “Where is it placed in the schedule? How well it’s retaining the lead-in it has. It also takes somewhat of an understanding of a direction a network wants to go.”

For instance, a show that attracts young viewers, though it has dismal overall ratings, could survive on a network that’s trying to draw a younger audience.

Then again, low numbers in any category are hard to overcome, especially this late in the game.

“We don’t think a show is going to start increasing their audiences by 25% at this point,” said Mike Greco, manager of broadcast research at the media buying firm BBDO.

Here’s a sampling of the shows that are on the bubble:

CBS: “Cosby,” “Chicago Hope,” “Early Edition,” “Martial Law,” “Ladies Man.”

ABC: “The Hughleys,” “Boy Meets World.”

FOX: “Get Real,” “Time of Your Life,” “Family Guy,” “Greed,” “World’s Wildest Police Videos.”

NBC: “Freaks and Geeks,” “Jesse,” “Stark Raving Mad.”

WB: “Jack & Jill,” “Roswell,” “The Jamie Foxx Show.”

UPN: “Grown Ups,” “Malcolm & Eddie,” “Shasta,” “Dilbert.”

At a time when the competition has never been stiffer, network executives find themselves gambling. On one hand, they have shows on the air that are pulling in a given number of viewers. On the other, of course, they have shows with unknown potential � some just starting midseason runs, others only now hiring actors to shoot a pilot.

“There’s a slew of things that go into a show returning or not returning,” including adver-tisers’ reaction to proposed shows, said BBDO’s Greco.

Also to be weighed are the Nielsen numbers in the case of midseason shows, which will roll out on all the networks during the next few weeks.

NBC, for example, is trying out two comedies for its once unbeatable Thursday-night lineup � “Daddio” and “Battery Park.” If those shows do better at retaining the audiences of their lead-ins � “Friends” and “Frasier” � it could be over for “Jesse” and “Stark Raving Mad.”

Beyond the hard numbers, which any good network researcher can spin to find a highlight, there’s a good-will factor. Does a show have a cult following?

“Another thing is the buzz factor,” Greco said. “Take a show like ‘Party of Five.’ It got off to a slow start, and viewers were writing in to keep the show on the air. Fox hoped that it had the potential to build over time.”

For much of its first few seasons, “Party of Five” lived on the cancelation bubble.

That said, for a show that has been on the air regularly since the start of the season, the Nielsen ratings so far are a fairly good sign of what will happen in the future, said TN’s Koerner.

“It would take a miracle in that situation” for a marginal show, she said. “But there’s still an opportunity for any midseason show, that maybe has just premiered and might get into a new time period. There’s still upside in those situations. Anything that premiered in the fall that hasn’t done anything spectacular by now, chances are it’s not going to show us something new.”

How the lineups shake out won’t be known for certain until late May, when the broadcasters unveil their fall schedules at glitzy presentations in Manhattan.

What can fans of shows on the bubble do?

For those who want to take a stand, here’s where to write:

ABC, 47 W. 66th St., New York, NY 10023
CBS, 51 W. 52nd St., New York, NY 10019
NBC, 30 Rockefeller Plaza, New York, NY 10112
FOX, 10201 West Pico Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90035
WB Network, 4000 Warner Blvd., Burbank, CA 91522
UPN, 11800 Wilshire Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90025


not an active member anymore.