Syndication afternoon talk shows were hit with a rash of preemptions two weeks ago, resulting in lower ratings. All this because of a number of NCAA tournament games attacked syndicators' sacred afternoon time periods for yada-yada-yada. Crushed was the mighty "Oprah Winfrey," losing 21 percent. "Dr. Phil" and "Entertainment Tonight" each lost 13 percent. "E.T." runs on many CBS-owned stations. That's not good because the NCAA runs on CBS.
Preemptions disrupt the flow and habits of viewers, not something TV executives want in today's diminishing TV ratings world. With this in mind, look out for a new network, MyNetworkTV, say some sources.
Many of its affiliates run lots of local sports teams' prime-time broadcasts--which will continue to preempt. This is nothing new. The WB and UPN have had this problem for years.
But in many cases WB and UPN programs were pretty much self-contained. TheWB, for instance, would make up for a preemption with a rerun of the preempted programs on the weekends.
But with MyNetworkTV, this could get sticky. Its Monday through Friday prime-time block is set for two serialized daily English-language telenovelas. Miss a few of those and network executives might just say adios to some of its viewers. The good news is that MyNetworkTV will make up for this--somewhat--with a Saturday night highlight telenovela show, summing up the week's events.
Still, preemptions should be viewed as good news--a way to shake things up. Push viewers to try new things, possibly making them change the channel--or even better, shut off the TV and stare at a blank screen.
That's right--gaze into space. Against some current TV shows, this can be a more rewarding activity--even when the TV is on.