In Another Type Of Rerun, TV Keeps Returning To Its Past

TV’s looking for some new money through the old ways of doing business.

First, NBC aired a live musical, “The Sound of Music” last December, which garnered top ratings. Now Bill Cosby is returning to the same network.  And NBC’s planning a live “Peter Pan” musical for the next holiday season.

Family entertainment might be in vogue again. The executives at Hallmark Channel are probably smiling, since that independently owned network posted a nice 38% prime-time viewership gain in November.

Some TV “families” might stretch this idea of family entertainment: ABC’s “Modern Family; TLC’s “Here Comes Honey Boo-Boo”; A&E’s “Duck Dynasty”; E!’s “Keeping up with the Kardashians.”

OK, we digressed a little. It might be hard to define  a “family,” but it’s easy to know what “familiar” is.  For many networks, that’s enough.



Many would say singing competitions fall into a retro-TV format. This summer, ABC’s “Rising Star”  will look to join the race that NBC’s “The Voice” and Fox’s “American Idol” and “X Factor” have battled in for sometime.

ABC might also join other networks in airing primetime NFL football should it win the NFL’s “Thursday Night Football” package. It’s no doubt a case of “if-you-can’t- beat-‘em-join-‘em.”

Another throwback to an earlier TV time has been live episodes of regular series, such as “30 Rock” most recently and “E.R.” some years back.  Many singing competition and other performance shows have also run live.

Familiar brand performers like Cosby -- who viewers favored  in the past -- are always welcome by network executives looking to kickstart new franchises.

NBC went this way recently by bringing back Michael J. Fox for another sitcom, whose ratings are currently mediocre at best.

What’s next? Networks continue to talk up “event” programming, with miniseries also included in that conversation. Perhaps variety shows? Any successors in mind for Dean Martin or Carol Burnett?

3 comments about "In Another Type Of Rerun, TV Keeps Returning To Its Past".
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  1. Doug Garnett from Protonik, LLC, January 24, 2014 at 4:17 p.m.

    Pixar, in a brilliant Harvard Business Review article, noted that in many ways the big ideas aren't all that important. That their work gains power I'm the details of the execution. I think there is trendies truth to this idea. And maybe that's why re-hashed show ideas work... It's in the details. They mostly fail if the producers do no more than knock off hoping for a nostalgic audience. The do brilliantly when fresh change in execution makes them work

  2. J Neighbors from II media , January 24, 2014 at 8:12 p.m.

    Love Michael J Fox personally but the show is awful and the ratings are worse. Retro Cosby will be the same disaster for NBC.

  3. Michael Redd from Kennesaw State University, January 25, 2014 at 12:39 p.m.

    I do not understand how you lump Duck Dynasty in with the families that "stretch" the idea of kid-friendly family entertainment.

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