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How Networks Sabotage Their Own Shows

Updated on April 1, 2013

It’s a sad story but it’s true that a lot of the shows that have gotten cancelled might still be around if not for the network sabotaging them. You wouldn’t think a network would sabotage their own line-up but they probably don’t see it as sabotage. It’s why the phrase, “What were they thinking?” must have been created for some of the bonehead moves network executives make. Like…

Sabotaging Their Entire Line-Up For A Flash In The Pan: To the best of my memory, CBS has never done this, but both ABC and NBC are guilty as charged.

Anyone remember when Who Wants To Be A Millionaire? debuted in primetime on ABC? It was such a ratings blockbuster that the blockheads at ABC decided to have it air several times a week, drop-kicking the shows that had been doing relatively well to make room for it. It was no surprise what happened. People grew bored of WWTBAM being on so much and viewership dropped off. Eventually it disappeared from primetime all together and ABC was left trying to rebuild the line-up they trashed for it.

Of course not can compare to NBC deciding what they should do with a problem like Jay Leno is to get him the entire 10pm timeslot all week long. A lot of good shows got sandbagged for Jay, even though this plan had disaster written all over it from the get-go. Eventually, NBC gave Jay what he really wanted; being host of the Tonight Show again. To accommodate Jay, Conan O’Brien got the axe. Ironically enough, the same situation is happening again. Jimmy Fallon was named as Jay Leno’s replacement and Jay is making noise about not wanting to go. Please, NBC executives, learn from your mistakes. Don’t offer him the 10pm timeslot to shut him up, again.

Too Long Hiatuses: This is some new strategy networks have been applying to new shows these days. To stop viewers from complaining about so many reruns they take the shows off the air for several months. ABC did it with V after it debuted and only had shown a few episodes. This season, NBC has done it with Revolution. By the time these shows are finally brought back you’ve forgotten all about them and have moved on to other shows. It totally destroys whatever momentum these shows had going for them. Many new shows never recover their initial audience and they end up being cancelled. The networks need to either order enough shows so excessive reruns aren’t necessary or just play the whole season through and not try to stretch it out until May.

Putting New Shows In Terrible Timeslots: Thursday at 8 pm is considered a death timeslot for shows. Every show that’s been in that timeslot has gotten cancelled. Last Resort debuted in that timeslot and didn’t better than other shows who were in that timeslot, but ABC still decided to cancel the show. They didn’t even try to give it a chance in a better timeslot to see if it would flourish and become a popular show. New shows take time to build an audience and networks pull the plug if they don’t immediately build one. Expecting that to happen in a timeslot known for failure is pure stupidity on the network’s part.

Putting An Established Show In A New Timeslot: This happens a lot and a lot of times it causes the show to get cancelled. A show starts on particular day and time and builds up a nice audience. Then the network for whatever reason decides to put it on a new day and time. A lot of times viewers won’t follow that show to its new day and time because they have different program loyalties on that day. It also doesn’t help if the moved show is put in a time with shows that really don’t gel with it. Like Private Practice [which was paired with its sister show, Grey’s Anatomy] being moved to a night that featured the Dancing With The Stars results show and ABC comedies. It just didn’t fit on that night.

In some cases the networks keeping moving said established show from new day and timeslot to new day and timeslot. It starts to seem like the network is trying everything they can to sandbag the show when they move it every time viewers gets used to it at it’s new time and it builds up a new audience.

So a lot of times it’s not that a show gets cancelled because it’s just a bad idea like that show about the cavemen. More times than not it’s because the network and some of the stupid programming decisions it makes. This may be why network TV is losing a lot of its viewers as more and more viewers are turning to cable, where a lot of the knuckleheaded decision making the networks are making doesn’t happen.


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    • ib radmasters profile image

      ib radmasters 4 years ago from Southern California

      The bigger problem is that the current shows and the new shows just don't provide entertainment. I know that many people follow these shows,but they are terrible.

      How many CSI shows can coexist? and what is the fascination with crime. All you have to do is watch the local news, or step out into your neighborhood at night.

      I am down to a half a dozen shows in a week, the rest of the time is Netflix online. I am tired of the nine minutes of ads for a half hour show, and the use of the bottom one third of the TV screen for vibrant popups during the 21 minutes of showtime.

      Is there something that I am missing about the TV shows because I just don't feel compelled to watch them?