Demographic Downfall: Television Executives Missing the PointPosted on by William Bartley (Writtenin1981)
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It might seem that, by now, television would have been around long enough that executives and network heads might understand how to operate things. Yet, every year in the new millennium has shown that this is not only a mistaken assumption, but that it almost appears that these same people running the show at network headquarters are almost trying to undo everything that is successful at making them money.
As with most elements of life, hindsight will be 20/20, yet some of us can see clearly right now what these guys with paychecks far exceeding what their IQ justify are doing wrong that will ultimately land them out of a job (and possibly launch their network into the memories of history.)
Some of the best examples of what I mean can be are...
The SyFy Network
The concept of the SyFy network was, at one point, as simple as basic arithmetic. It was a channel designed to provide entertainment from the science fiction genre, which is so wide open that just about anything fantasy related could fit into the network if they so chose. There are so many options to work with that someone would have to be near clinically brain dead to not understand such simple logic.
Someone contact Ripleys because whoever is sitting in the offices of the SyFy network may just qualify as the first brain dead individual to be in charge of a major network. In a conscious effort to move away from science fiction programming into more of a "modern" schedule, the SyFy channel has began broadcasting professional wrestling, reality shows, and even crime dramas like Law & Order (as if that show wasn't eating up enough space as is.)
While ratings for the network have not seen much of a decline since the changeover began to take hold five years ago, the fact is that the SyFy network is alienating its core fan base and becoming a laughingstock of the media world (even Stephen Colbert took shots at them over their name change.) Not to mention, the network is making it harder on itself to differentiate from other "general entertainment" networks that exist on cable television. That may not seem bad to them now, but give it a few years and a few dozen failed "original" shows. Then come back and check how those ratings are doing.
Country Music Television
That name probably doesn't even exist any more, and CMT is likely just "CMT"; a generic network designed to broadcast general programming. I sense a theme coming in this article.
Much like SyFy, CMT's job was almost so simple that a trained monkey would likely be able to handle weekend duties if necessary. Country Music programming was to be aired throughout the day and into the prime time. This consisted of music videos, specials, live concerts, and pretty much anything that pertained to country music.
As of thirty minutes ago, I checked the network and saw the movie Billy Madison playing. I'm sure that Taylor Swift's fan base had their popcorn bowls in their laps enjoying those exploits of Nashville's own Adam Sandler.
The network has come to find themselves on the receiving end of scorn from country fans while rival network Great American Country has seen great amounts of growth since CMT's format changed in the last decade. So much so that they now openly mock CMT in their promotional material and have found themselves go from an obscure network to one that many have chosen over CMT.
But hey, I'm sure they know what they're doing over at CMT headquarters. Just because your decisions have caused your biggest rival to see ratings growth and a rise in a fan base doesn't mean you're doing something wrong...right?
Tune into the Cartoon Network sometime after 3pm and you will likely find...anything but cartoons. They too have fallen victim to a condition I call "wooden blindness" (not being able to see the forest for the trees.) It's the same song, different verse. In this case replace sci-fi or country music with cartoons and the rest falls into position like Lego bricks. They have even tried to get cute with re-branding. Over the last few years "Cartoon Network" has slowly morphed into "CN". See what they did there? Oh, that's so clever!
Know who else was clever? Wile E. Coyote. Except instead of a busted Acme product doing them in, it may be a live action flick starring Frankie Muniz.
I would put "The Learning Channel" up there, but that would just be too sad to even type at this point. All anybody needs to know here is that what was once a network geared toward the people that loved Discovery Channel and would often put on fascinating material on subjects about science and nature (stuff that actually helps you learn) has now become a network pandering to reality television. It's like telling a Harvard Professor of physics that he has to go teach frat boys how to make Jello shots at the University of Malibu or something.
It was a simple, unique, and seemingly innocent program that started things off. Then again, the road to Hell is paved with good intentions. The oh so cute Paige Davis hosted a program quaintly titled Trading Spaces in the early part of the 2000s, which didn't seem that out of place at the time. It exploded in popularity and soon network executives with no legitimate viewpoint of "the big picture" were trying to milk that cash cow for all it was worth. Out the door went learning programs and in came exploitative material like Hoarders and strange, outlandishly out of place specials like the Miss America pageant.
The only thing anyone will learn on TLC these days is how to kill brain cells in a most efficient manner.
Maybe the most maddening one on this list is ABC Family (originally the Family Channel), which was created to air family-oriented material that was appropriate for all age groups. Only on occasion would a movie be deemed "parental advisory" worthy, but even then it would likely still not be considered offensive by parents for their older children.
Much like SyFy, the programming options for the network were wide open. Once the ABC network took it over, it should have been like shooting fish in a barrel as far as picking and choosing what went on the schedule. ABC is in the same family of networks that Disney and Buena Vista are in. It was like like Ben & Jerry's being located next to a gym. Nothing could have been better for both parties.
So what does ABC Family air? A bunch of stuff I wouldn't let my child watch, that's for sure. One show they rerun during weekday afternoons is That 70s Show, which is a sitcom that is chock full of off colorful language, story lines that revolve around sexual relationships, and copious amounts of drug use.
Many of the original programs are aimed at teenage audiences and contain material that, if not inappropriate for family or younger audiences, certainly doesn't appeal to them. Which only makes the decision to put them on a channel that advertises itself as a family network all the more absurd, seeing as hardly any teenager is going to pay attention to the network anyway.
ABC Family also inexplicably airs a movie that can pretty much sum up everything that's wrong with the network today with one title: Cruel Intentions. The film revolves around a cocaine addicted high school girl who tries to toy with the emotions of all those around her via seduction and sexual advances, including trying to take the virginity of a fellow student, "teaching" another girl how to French kiss (in lurid close up, no less), and attempting to lure her stepbrother into bed. There is getting away from your target demographic, and then there is just outright not knowing who your demographic is to begin with. To say nothing of having good taste.
Maybe time is just passing me by finally, but I have a sign on the wall above my desk that reads "If it ain't broke, don't fix it." Seems like an awful lot of executives have called repairmen for channels which were working just fine.