Why Network Ratings Are Down

Repeat after me. TV has reruns, lots of reruns. Repeat.

This season, there is a lot of blame going around about the big drop in network broadcast ratings -- DVR time-shifting and the Internet chief among them.

But how about this other angle from David Poltrack, chief research officer of CBS Corp, speaking to The Hollywood Reporter: "This was a spring where the networks were not reinvigorated with new programming as in years past. Hence, more repeats. This led to some lowering of overall viewing levels."

Yes, just blame bad programming. So you get reruns because, after all, there are only so many very special new episodes of “Deal or No Deal” or “Datelines” or “Are you smarter than a fifth grader?” that one network can put on for quick relief.

The question is whether this juggling will continue next year - - when a host of new TV shows tries to make their mark on an increasingly overwrought TV schedule that continues to dull the senses of TV viewers, or -- in the wake of many network programming hiatuses -- leaves viewers apathetic and gazing into space.



It’s enough to want to stare at a static shot of a fishbowl for hours on end.

About a decade ago, there was a report that a small cable operator in the TV hinterlands was waiting to get a proper satellite feed for a new cable network. But he didn’t have anything to fill the channel. And for some reason, the story goes, he turned a static video camera on a fish tank.

He didn’t think anything of it until days -- or perhaps weeks later -- when the new cable network’s programming feed was ready to go live. That’s when he took the camera and the fish tank away -- and when he started getting complaining phone calls.

It seems the fish were getting ratings -- and thus identifying for all viewers the earliest origins of reality TV. No script, no editing, just plain fish, nosing around plastic drawbridges and gently swaying ocean plants, with a calm soundtrack of bubbles.

So when next season comes around, and a network like CBS jumps quickly to cancel a low-rated but highly-hyped rookie show, we suggest holding off on another “Without a Trace” or “CSI” rerun.

Think marine life. Since TV business is ruthless -- like a crime syndicate -- it all makes sense. Your show sleeps with the fishes.

Next story loading loading..