New Network Shelf Space: Forgotten Time Periods, Inventing 'Schnursday'

Looking for something different in network television? Or just maybe more quality content? With apologies to time-shifting devices everywhere, it still comes down to finding more time periods for programming.

New for next season, CBS wants to open the door a bit on the one night network programmers abandoned years ago: Saturday. CBS will run original episodes of its longtime comedy utility player, "Rules of Engagement," in the 8 p.m. time slot, followed by some assorted comedy reruns.

The thinking here is that young men might tune in for a quick half-hour of yucks. This is a decent strategy. A couple of years ago ABC started up Saturday night college football, which has reaped sturdy results.

Like ABC, CBS won't be spending much money on this programming. Original episodes of "Rules" has been a great off-the-bench comedy, giving other CBS shows a little downtime usually right before bigger and key TV periods for networks -- February and May. CBS would need this strategy for next season.

CBS' Nina Tassler joked the network had so much good stuff in the works it needed to invent another night of the week, which she offered up as "Schnursday".

Even ABC believes there is more to be gained from Friday, which offers up better ad revenues than Saturday, but has been definitely viewed as a lesser priority than Sunday through Thursday. New ABC Entertainment chief Paul Lee said Friday could be the place for the return of "family night" programming. A footnote here: Lee's previous post was running the cable network ABC Family.

Detractors might say there are better ways to go about this -- looking long-term. Digitally, video-demand-services still are part of the traditional TV environment and could still command some level of traditional TV advertising dollars. Lesser avenues, of course, are straight-to-Internet shows, which have a much weaker business model at the moment.

But networks won't see it this way anytime soon. And it's not just about advertising revenue. It's the current value of TV program marketing.

TV still draws more viewers and more viewing time than anytime else -- dwarfing all new digital platforms combined. And that still means one big thing: It's where viewers still find out about new shows. For all that Facebook and Twitter does to help socially connect viewers with TV shows, watching on-air TV promos is still the dominant way viewers find out about what's new on TV.

You want to know why NBC's "The Voice" opened so well, with an eye-popping 5.0 rating among 18-49 viewers? It was the wall to wall, on-air TV promos efforts on the NBC network and just about every single NBC and Comcast cable network and local cable spot affiliation known in the business. One competing TV marketing executive guessed the value of that launch promotion was akin to a theatrical movie opening-- some $35 million.

So if TV executives continue to look under rocks and behind corners for any possible elusive place to traditionally park their programs --- even in light of major digital TV business changes coming down the road --- you'll know why.

They are sticking to their own rules of engagement -- of viewers.

Tags: television, tv
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1 comment about " New Network Shelf Space: Forgotten Time Periods, Inventing 'Schnursday' ".
  1. Don Seaman from TVB , May 19, 2011 at 5:34 p.m.

    It's about time someone takes my advice! I encouraged Fox to do this back in December ("You Want to Make Several Million Good Impressions? Move 'Idol' to Saturday") right here in the virtual pages of Mediapost.

    I always wondered what happened to that fictional "seventh" night of the broadcast week. I'm glad CBS found it again - at least for a half hour, anyway.