Finding Right Formula For Original Saturday Night Shows

Saturday night isn’t just another day in the week on TV; it’s the lowest priority of virtually every single TV network.

But with nearly 500 scripted TV shows vying for consumer interest -- and growing -- TV networks may want to reexamine different areas to get some traction -- even if that traction might be tiny versus what was expected in the past.

Now CBS has made a bold attempt to find some viewers with “Ransom,”,an internationally produced drama -- this, on the night when no broadcast network regularly airs any original scripted series.

We can only assume it didn’t cost much to secure -- and that means little downside.

CBS had been running repeats of its other crime dramas, under the umbrella title, “Crimetime Saturday,” as well as news show “48 Hours.” Lots of broadcast networks run reruns or lower-cost news programming efforts.

Networks have tried other combinations -- on and off -- for a number of years, including some original fare. In recent years, CBS offered up original scripted comedy “Rules of Engagement.”



One the most successful new TV series on Saturday in recent years has been ABC’s college football series, “Saturday Night Football.”

The series started in 2006, averaging 7.6 million viewers -- and it hasn’t fallen much in over a decade. This past season, it averaged 5.99 million Nielsen viewers. This year, it was helped with a big-rated and closely fought Michigan State-Ohio State afternoon game on November 26, which pulled in 16.8 million viewers.

What’s the big difference?

It’s early yet, but CBS’ “Ransom” debuted on January 1 -- a Sunday -- with 6.7 million viewers. A week later on its regular Saturday night time period, it got about 3.3 million viewers, around what Crimetime Saturday is currently averaging. (Much of this was because it was up against an NFL wildcard playoff game -- Detroit Lions-Seattle Seahawks.)

TV networks should keep trying new stuff on low-level viewing nights, like Saturday, because linear TV still has value -- reach of TV/media viewers, for example -- versus linear cable networks and/or new digital platforms. 

Lowly Saturday night deserves a chance -- and a somewhat higher priority.

2 comments about "Finding Right Formula For Original Saturday Night Shows".
Check to receive email when comments are posted.
  1. Steve Beverly from Union Broadcasting System, January 16, 2017 at 12:18 p.m.

    Wayne, surely it was a different era, but I wonder what would have happened if today's mindset on Saturday nights existed in 1971.  CBS made that summertime decision to move "All in the Family" to Saturday nights at 8 instead of its originally scheduled Mondays at 10:30.  We all know what happened there.

    I hope this new series even modestly succeeds; otherwise, Saturday nights will continue to be throwaway time.

  2. Paula Lynn from Who Else Unlimited, January 16, 2017 at 5:42 p.m.

    Hell on Wheels. BTW, we need at least one more season.

Next story loading loading..