Do the rich get richer? Or, does it just look the way to the rest of us, with less in our pockets?
Television executives realized a long time ago - when broadcast rating erosion became an
annual event unto itself - that maintaining share, even in an overall market of declining ratings, is good news.
For other, more pessimistic TV watchers, it's really like eating steak for
the first time on the Titanic when the ship is going down. You feel good. But somehow you know indigestion and a cold shower is around the corner.
"American Idol," perhaps the
most-dissected TV network show due to its still crazy-high number-one ratings, debuted on Tuesday
to big numbers
again. Here comes the 'but': The show's 18-49 numbers dipped 15% versus last year's debut.
Even with this news, Fox has little to complain about. The show, now in its eighth season, only
really started showing dips in viewing last year versus the previous year. This is all slightly below normal for a program with its longevity.
Peter Liguori, chairman of Fox Entertainment,
has a different perspective, one of share. He told Broadcasting & Cable: "Last year the premiere of 'American Idol' was 55% stronger than the premiere of 'Grey's Anatomy." This year, it is 57%
stronger. If you look from bellwether show to bellwether show, we have maintained our strength."
Or, improved on it.
This will be a good sell to advertisers come this upfront
period because whatever position the overall market is in -- flat, slightly down, slightly up --- "Idol" will be still at the top of the heap, perhaps more so given its comparison to other top network
For virtually more than two decades since audiences started to fractionalize, TV executives could count on regular CPM increases of network television. Like it or not, for some
that's a major yardstick in measuring performance.
Even if "Idol" was only 50% above "Grey's Anatomy"s debut, there would be little cry from TV advertisers. In this TV economy -- more than
ever -- any sliver of evidence showing you are still better than the next big guy will always feel good -- and usually end up being good