Mailing It In
By Ben Grossman -- Broadcasting & Cable, 10/19/2008 8:00:00 PM
It's always unfortunate when a columnist decides to devote an entire piece to printing and responding toe-mails or letters that have (allegedly) come in. It shows a combination of an inflated ego, lack of new column ideas and general laziness.
So let's get right to it.
I read that TiVo viewing is skyrocketing; for instance, 30% of all The CW's viewing is via DVR. So if I'm running a network, why am I paying for a head of scheduling? Who cares when these shows are on anymore?
That is one opinion. Heck, CBS is having a great fall and they have a Green Bay Packers fan doing their scheduling, so how tough can it really be? But take a look at the few new things that have worked this year, and you'll see you are wrong. Fox's pet project Fringe tanked in its opening, and then the next week got moved behind House and grew nicely. And CBS's The Mentalist, network TV's rookie of the year, has that nice NCIS lead-in.
So while DVR penetration will keep growing, for the remaining audience it becomes even more crucial to leverage lead-ins and schedule smartly, especially to launch rookies.
And when you have a big-ticket item, you absolutely have to use it. NBC should have carved out an hour from 10-11 one night during the Olympics and run a premiere of its big new show, My Own Worst Enemy. Yes, they would have potentially sacrificed an hour of mammoth ratings, but you have very few captive audiences these days in network TV. And after seeing the modest numbers for the surprisingly good Christian Slater drama, I'd already be planning that hour slot somewhere after figure skating one night in Vancouver 2010.
Doesn't it seem like TBS and ESPN are trying a little too hard with all of these new graphics and stats lately during sporting events?
Yes. I am happy ESPN and TBS are done with baseball coverage, just so I don't have to see any more of TBS's silly nine-foot line for players leading off first base, or ESPN's useless baseball graphic showing what each batter's average is after the current pitch count.
That said, when Reggie Bush started flying past my helpless Minnesota Vikings on Monday Night Football a couple of weeks ago, ESPN threw up a speedometer and showed he was going 22 miles per hour.
That was cool. Well, almost. Had they shown that Jamaican über-sprinter Usain Bolt averaged 23 miles per hour when he won the 100-meter gold in China, then it really would have gotten impressive. Good idea; just give us some context and ESPN is on to something. Or maybe, D.H., the speedometer just needs a nickname.
I was wondering about this week's B&C Hall of Fame at the Waldorf-Astoria in New York. In some professional sports' all-star games, sometimes the commissioner of the league gets to add a player or two to the roster. As editor, why aren't you allowed to add your own picks to the class, and who would you have selected?
The answer to your second question answers your first. The B&C Hall of Fame is obviously one of the elite media events of the year, so I thought my unique perspective would lend some valuable insight. After much deliberation, I suggested we recognize Bobcat Goldthwait for his fine work in the classic movie Shakes the Clown; TiVo, for almost single-handedly ruining television's business model (or at least making a lot of us start working for our paychecks again after all these years); and Christina Hendricks, the beautiful actress who plays Joan on Mad Men, for obvious reasons. Amazingly, the committee shot me down. And tried to have me fired.
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