TV Network Scheduling Executives Calculate New Episode Math

Veteran TV executives in charge of program planning/scheduling of TV programming on linear TV networks face a new question: What’s the future now?

Program schedulinghas changed its definition in a digital world. Linear TV airing of TV shows will surely be an ongoing task -- even while streaming content grows. But it becomes a more difficult planning chore.

Hulu, Roku, Tubi and Pluto will have linear TV content close to, or next, to on-demand streaming content. So if you are scheduling a future TV network, this will surely be an addition to your competition algorithm.

Lot of numbers make glaring impact: 25% of total TV usage goes to streaming, with 6% for those streaming ad-supported platforms. Some 20% to 40% of former upfront linear TV dollars are now moving to streaming platforms, starting this fall.

Starting in the late 1990s, broadcast TV schedulers might have had to plan around other cable TV networks, and/or syndicated programming on TV stations -- largely from real-time, linear TV airings of programs.



Later, they needed to combat set-top DVR/time-shifting machines. For example, in the recent past, TV networks had said the 10 p.m. prime-time hour was a major viewing period for time-shifting programming.

Now, broadcast TV network executives compete with premium streaming platforms -- including those owned by their own TV/media holding companies.

Take FX Networks. After a linear TV airing on the cable network, the next day you can now see the same episode, on demand, on Hulu -- a sister Disney service. Many other networks also have this scheduling model.

Still, you might ask: Scheduling chores for on-demand streaming platform? Yes. Executives on those platforms make decisions on whether to release a season’s worth of 13-, 10-, 8- episodes at a time -- or, akin to linear TV, one episode a week.

Disney+, for one, has been doing this for some time. Netflix has been slowly joining the club -- for some shows.

For two of Netflix’s reality shows -- “The Circle” and “Too Hot to Handle” -- it released some -- but not all -- episodes over a month-long period. For the recent final season of “Grace and Frankie,” it recently released four of 16 episodes.

It's just some of the more complicated competitive episode math for program planners to calculate.

2 comments about "TV Network Scheduling Executives Calculate New Episode Math".
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  1. Bill Shane from Eastlan Ratings, August 17, 2021 at 2:19 p.m.

    I remember back in the 90's (I think) when Turner's TBS started their programs 5 mnutes past the top of the hour or half-hour.  Ted Turner explained at the time that this was their way of giving viewers a chance to watch something from the beginning if they didn't like the episode of the show they normally watch.  I thought it was a clever trick, but didn't expect it to last.  I surely missed the boat on that thought.

  2. Ed Papazian from Media Dynamics Inc, August 17, 2021 at 2:30 p.m.

    Wayne, I was surprised to see your comment that 20-40% of "former" upfront TV dollars are moving to streaming when, at the same time you point out how small---in terms of viewing time--- AVOD currently is. If 30% of "linear TV" upfront dollars were to move to streaming in a few months that works out to something like $9-10 billion counting all dayparts. I seriously doubt that the current small audience, small reach  AVOD services, with their low ad clutter rates could absorb such a huge shift of dollars.I also doubt that a shift of this magnitude is happening so soon. Maybe over an extended period of time, but not before there's enough viewing GRPs in AVOD and suitable content and viable commercial breaks where some measure of ad attentiveness is likely.

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