Don't Ever Change, Broadcast Networks: How to Keep Failing and Laughter Alive
If you thought the networks were the only ones that could copy themselves after a hit and put that copy on the air without shame, think again. Starting on Friday, when the annual Leak of Upfronts News Before Upfronts Start sprung wide open, I was on Twitter, displeased with the predictability of it all.
Seriously, except for downsizing the parties and having to adjust to massive leaks on the Internet prior to the actual week of upfronts, not much has changed in, well, decades.
And by that I mean the business model hasn’t changed. The networks haven’t changed. They haven’t dealt with losing the majority share of the audience to cable in the early 2000s and they haven’t dealt with staggering ratings declines every year – particularly this last season.
And yet, there they are in New York, putting on the same dog and pony show. Television reporters are there to tweet out every series that got picked up (or didn’t), every series that got canceled, and myriad speculation about it all.
Necessary? Yes. New? Nope. And so I thought I would put out my yearly caution about getting excited not only for series that haven’t been seen yet, but ones that will undoubtedly be mistreated or some how screwed up by the networks next season – because the business model hasn’t changed. Standard operating procedure hasn't changed.
Taking a hint from the whole repackaging of content idea that networks love so much, here then is my weekend Twitter play-by-play about the absurdity of it all, just in time for all the “official” announcement to come on Monday.
* All those shiny new network pick-ups? Who cares! You've gotta prove yourself to make The Power Rankings!
* Yearly reminder that all this excitement about new shows should be tempered by using tweets from last May - about shows now dead. Or bad.
* Silly excited people! Network television may not even exist next fall! Pump the brakes a bit.
* What? What? Can't a guy just be a tad bit cynical? Hey, it's just a sandwich board with "End of the World In September" on it. Relax.
* However, I will join all of the excitement about Parks and Recreation. That is allowed. Better?
* I mean how can a business that spends 10X more on scripted shows than cable does on cheap unscripted shows that BEAT them, not survive?
* How can a business model that hasn't changed much in 50 years fail? That's silly.
* Let's make 40 new fall shows and then air them all in the same 10 day window. Everybody loves a winning strategy!
* We are happy to announce that Show X will "sneak" on Friday at 8, return in 2 weeks to its regular Monday 9 p.m. slot, then go missing.
* We just announced a show you'll love so much you'll start a campaign to save it, which we'll ignore as we move it to Saturday nights!
* If you like the first 9 episodes we tout in September, you'll love the 13 we burn off in summer without telling you.
* We are so proud of this subtle litttle show that we're airing it against 3 established and enormous hits on the same day and time!
* We've hired writers capable of making 6 of our 22 episodes really good! Get on board early!
* From the creator of six unbelievably shitty shows comes our next great family sitcom, complete with wacky neighbor!
* We have a website with a ton of information, except for exactly when your favorite show will come back, even though we know! Keep guessing!
* If we close our eyes, those declining ratings from the last eight or nine years will just disappear. If they dont we'll call it "cyclical."
* OK, I've depressed myself. I need to go for a walk, people.
* We are excited to present a family that does NOT get along and some detectives who are the heels of a serial killer. Fall 2013!
* Today we'd like to announce two shows that we've paid for, will shoot, advertise and never air!
* Please give a warm round of applause to our next singing show!
* Who let the Dawg quit before he was fired?
* 11 years after we wanted him to, Randy Jackson has quit American Idol, as it crashes into the ground.
* All the actors you loved in your favorite shows that we canceled are back in our copy of what everyone else is getting decent numbers with!