New Shows Reflect Economy;Will Discounted Commercial Time Follow?

Network TV viewership has been declining for years -- and now, apparently, so has the wherewithal to produce high quality TV shows.

Network ratings have been sinking for a long time -- but growing advertising sales, big DVR revenues, and international sales, seemingly took care of this financial unbalance.

No longer.

A growing recession  has put a big squeeze on next year's big network TV projects -- now numbering around 70, according to Variety, down from 82 in 2007. (Last year's TV development season, shortened by the writer's strike, isn't a good model for comparison.)

Studios have been using more price-efficient production locations, like Vancouver, for years. Now Fox's "Fringe" TV series, produced by Warner Bros., is leaving New York for the West Coast Canadian market -- because of the tax credits producers can get.

But that's not all. High-concept TV shows are less of an attraction unless they have a big-name actor or other talent attached. Why? In an age where the marketing of TV show become more expensive, more difficult, instant awareness of some well-known talent -- like Kelsey Grammer in ABC's new pilot "Pryors" -- makes for an easier sell.



In keeping with the temperature of the times, expect TV network to mirror the current economic mess -- especially the very wealthy who are handed major financial setbacks. There are also pilots like ABC's "Canned," about a group of young friends who all get pink slips on the same day. Blue-collar themed shows will be another trend.

So it'll be interesting to see which networks continue to tout themselves as catering to high-income, $100,000 or more, aged 18-49, viewers.

One wonders whether TV advertisers will support these kinds of shows in future years -- especially when there are other digital video options to consider.

Marketers always seem to be groaning about something -- the lack of family-oriented programs, too many cheap reality shows at high network prices, or a glut of graphic crime dramas.  Now they can complain about proletarian-looking network shows.

This will go down easier if they can buy those shows at Wal-Mart pricing.

5 comments about "New Shows Reflect Economy;Will Discounted Commercial Time Follow? ".
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  1. Douglas Ferguson from College of Charleston, February 25, 2009 at 12:11 p.m.

    Big names? Kelsey Grammer's last show didn't get much traction. And don't even mention Christian Slater.

  2. Aaron B. from, February 25, 2009 at 12:20 p.m.

    I wish ABC hadn't canceled "Carpoolers" from a year or so ago... it would be the perfect series to have on air given the current market.

  3. William Hughes from Arnold Aerospace, February 25, 2009 at 12:22 p.m.

    I don't watch Network or Cable TV anymore. In their quest for the All-Mighty Dollar they rendered Television "Unwatchable". Now they can rot in their Corperate Greed.

  4. Arthur Greenwald from Greenwald Media, February 25, 2009 at 12:44 p.m.

    "Proletarian-looking network shows like what?" Roseanne? All in the Family? The Honeymooners? That doesn't sound like a problem.

  5. Paula Lynn from Who Else Unlimited, February 25, 2009 at 5:15 p.m.

    mmmm....the proletariat....the middle revolutionary !!!! Wayne, you are on Target !

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