Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Strike may change network landscape

Don't let it be said that the producers aren't equally worried about a long writers strike. Tonight, NBC airs 3 hours of alternative programming, 2 hours of Deal or No Deal, followed by 1 hour of Dateline. And be sure to watch the same Deal re-aired soon on CNBC. Hard to expect the ratings to soar for NBC tonight. And if history repeats itself, NBC will hurt the longevity of its Deal franchise just as ABC destroyed the show Who Wants to Be A Millionaire.

And now, word comes down that the networks will borrow from their sister cable channels. CBS announced earlier the plan to use Showtime Channel shows like Dexter and Weeds, while NBC will borrow from USA and Bravo. Of course NBC has already repurposed the Law and Order franchise on these cable nets, so the circle is complete and we can enjoy Psych and Queer Eye on NBC. How long will this filler last; hopefully not too long as each party realizes they need the other to create quality content that fills the multiple pipelines.

Showtime may seem some initial gain; with a smaller premium audience who has seen these shows. Showcasing them in edited form on CBS may gain new viewers willing to upgrade to the premium channel to watch current episodes uncut and commercial free. But NBC does not have this advantage with their basic nets.

Without original scripted content, there is nothing valuable to showcase across the other screens. No one will download Deal or Dateline, especially after you repurpose them so many times.