Does TV Still Need 'Hits'?

Looking for the TV hits -- any hits, reality, comedy, drama -- this past season? Keep looking, and then wonder,  what am I really looking for?

Now,  for many it depends on who you are, as well as what platform (broadcast, cable, syndication, and/or local) the show was on and its relation to other shows.

Few new hits really comes to mind this past season.  Perhaps “The Blacklist” seemed a likely candidate from NBC. Before that, maybe ABC’s “Scandal.” New cable TV hits? AMC’s “Walking Dead” generates big numbers -- but it isn’t in the new category any longer.

Overall, cable hits are harder to figure out: Does one need to average 6 million viewers per original episode airing these days? Maybe it’s just 3 million.

Some might be moaning that one of cable’s key programming genres  -- reality TV -- has been having a tough time of it, this from a recent THR story. For many networks who count on reality in a big way -- A&E, Bravo, TLC, E!, Oxygen, History, Discovery, OWN -- it has been tough going to make big immediate gains from new shows.



But looking overall we can see some of these long-time established cable TV networks have broader issues, like the general audience erosion that the broadcast networks have endured for a number of years.

Viewers may not be looking for the new reality show, the new comedy, or the new drama. They perhaps want something really new -- and that’s harder to come by.

Programmatic media buyers -- mostly in the digital space -- continue to look for audiences, not programming. And it doesn’t matter if hits are big or small -- you just have to find enough of your target customers. That, of course, continues to be a big problem: getting enough “scale.”

So with scale as a big hurdle, we continue to lapse back into the ease of finding that one big mass appeal form of TV entertainment viewers, or marketers, can glom onto.

To reiterate, this isn’t a task for leisure time. But we can hope -- because summer is here and we want the living to be easy.

4 comments about "Does TV Still Need 'Hits'? ".
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  1. Nicholas Schiavone from Nicholas P. Schiavone, LLC, June 27, 2014 at 4:59 p.m.

    How low can we sink in our reflections on the nature of this business? More talk like this and we face extinction.

    Name one human endeavor that doesn't need a "HIT" to survive and thrive?

    Even the Universe needed a Hit to get started: one big Bang:

  2. Ed Papazian from Media Dynamics Inc, June 27, 2014 at 5:30 p.m.

    Even though the quantitative definitions of a TV show "hit" have changed over the years, there will always be standout sitcoms, dramas, varieties and other fare. In most cases, shows like "The Dick Van Dyke Show", "The Andy Griffith Show", "Gunsmoke", "Bonanza", "All In The Family", "Cheers", "Law and Order", "The Simpsons" and many others, introduced audiences to new styles of storytelling or humor and set the stage for an industry-wide upgrade in programming as they were emulated and additional refinements were developed. Despite occasional lulls, more hits are in the offing and so it will be, probably as long as we have TV. There are other reasons why the networks and cable channels need hits. One, is their ability to schedule a few hit shows in self supporting blocks of programs, with the strong shows followed by weaker ones who benefit by the resulting "audience flows". A second reason is the way that ad time is sold. Everybody wants to be represented in hit shows, so the network that has 'em packages its many not so good entries with the few hits and advertisers buy these bundles, allowing the network to auction off all of its GRPs---the good, the bad and the ugly. Third, the networks share in the lucrative syndication profits of many of the shows they license from independent producers. Obviously, hit shows are generally more popular in syndication, especially when a long network run gives them many episodes to offer to the independent stations or cable channels that frequently want to "strip" program them.

  3. Paula Lynn from Who Else Unlimited, June 27, 2014 at 7:03 p.m.

    Competition decrease as in less "stations" and programs will push GRPs higher. Once upon a time, there were 3 bears.

  4. Nicholas Schiavone from Nicholas P. Schiavone, LLC, June 29, 2014 at 6:24 p.m.

    Once upon a time, that would have been "fewer" 'stations' and programs.

    Onwards and upwards.

    Have a great week sports fans ... and I do mean soccer.

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