Tuesday, February 19, 2008

The Writers Strike Has Changed Network Programming

Will the networks change their programming models or are old habits hard to break? Some believe that networks have learned their lesson finally and are reshaping their models, buying less pilots, premiering new programming around the year and not just in the Fall and Spring, and following the cable model of multiple programming showings throughout the week. And why make all these changes - To assure that the viewing public watches these shows and their costs can be recouped.

But under this model, the networks would need to actually create more tv shows not less. They will have to spend more money for more pilots and than commit more of them to a large enough number of shows. As VOD and websites like Hulu become vast libraries of shows, the old model of rerunning shows will not work. Once networks begin to monetize them on these other platforms, their linear tv schedules need to become populated with more original content or will see declining ratings. And so when networks like NBC announce that they are producing fewer pilots it goes against the logic of their future endeavors. They should be announcing more shows being produced to capitalize on the additional inventory needed to fill all this space.

And to the discussion of upfronts; as the writers strike has left the networks without new product, it is hard to imagine the value of upfronts this Spring trying to sell old programming as new again. You can't sell the shinola unless the sh*t exists. It's hard to believe that any of the networks have enough new programming in the mix to sell the sizzle. Get your programming house in order, than take it to the market. Agencies are tired of empty calories, make the effort to show the beef.