Some TV shows are high-flying -- others are under the radar. Close to being grounded, maybe. Are these "catch-up" shows?
The critically acclaimed "Damages" from FX is in
this category. FX president John Landgraf says he is "plainly disappointed with the ratings"
second season of the drama starring Glenn Close.
Landgraf blames the "catch-up' scenario: where viewers may watch four days, a week, or even several weeks later on their DVRs.
Worst still some viewers go out and rent a season's worth of DVDs of the show.
Much of this does little for FX -- especially with the time shifting of the show, where advertisers only
pay FX for the original episode and for three days afterward with DVR playback (this is the TV currency of C3 -- commercial rating plus three days of DVR playback.)
"We got zero credit
from Nielsen or from any advertisers," says Landgraf. (However, someone is getting credit in terms if DVD sales and rentals revenue).
Other cable networks' shows, like TNT's
"The Closer," USA's "Burn Notice," and Lifetime's "Army Wives," for example, seemingly have less of a DVR problem -- witness their higher ratings.
during this so-called "golden age of the drama" there has been an embarrassment of riches for viewers, leaving some dramas - however good -- off the radar.
Marketing problem? It
could also be a timing issue. The second season of "Damages" ran into the teeth of the regular broadcast season: January through April 2009. Other big cable shows focus on the
less-competitive summer time periods.
Overall, however, there is still the issue of too much good stuff.
The highly honored "Mad Men" from AMC does a fraction of
ratings of most big cable series. Is it a "catch-up" show? How about "Psych" on USA? "The Cleaner" on A&E? "My Boys" on TBS? Some TV programming
executives believe a number of network shows are also in this category: NBC's "30 Rock" and ABC's "Ugly Betty," or CBS' "Ghost Whisperer," for example.
Shows that viewers want to keep and see later aren't necessarily a bad thing. But for national TV advertisers, for all intents and purposes, some of that viewership doesn't exist.