Demographic Downfall: Television Executives Missing the Point

Posted 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?

Cartoon Network

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.

ABC Family

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.

Do you like the new direction these cable networks have headed?

7064 views & 48 votes

Debate It! 9

I had no idea Sci-Fi Channel airs Law & Order, that's ridiculous. And I refuse to call it Syfy

Posted By Bovandy,

They don't air Law & Order, they air a few law and order type shows. The wrestling really bothers me though, along with a cooking show as well? What are they doing.

Posted By kinser,

Believe it or not...the executives DO know more than a worthless fucking BLOGGER who is using nothing but ignorance and GUESSES to back up their side of the argument.

ALL of the examples you gave were of channels that were LOSING money beforethe change and saw an increase in revenue after hte change.

Posted By lakawak,

I call it SyFy, but I make sure to pronounce it "see-fee". I figure it doesn't make any sense to call them "sie-fie" since they changed the spelling and the programing specifically because they no longer wish to be associated with sci-fi. "see-fee" is more fitting.

lakawak, the blogger (or BLOGGER, as you call him) has made some reasoned predictions of the future, saying that he predicts these networks will lose money and their demographics as they ignore the latter. A few times he refers to "the big picture", and he explains his reasoning pretty clearly. If you have some evidence or logic or anything to refute his predictions, you should provide it. Just saying "nuh-uh", and referring to something in the past only vaguely related, doesn't really cut it.

It sounds like ABC Family knows exactly who their demographic was, and what their name is, and they intentionally air programs that are not for them. Cruel Intentions? That doesn't happen on accident.

Posted By Brain456,

Takawak.. is your dad an executive from one of those network and you try desperately to defend him ?

Sorry for you, but I worked in for one, and know this world pretty well. And the writer of this article is so close to the truth it is chilling.
Those executives are real egomaniacs dumbf****s that try to justify their salary to the shareholders by vomiting stupid concepts, inventing anything that would look like a new direction for the company only because in times of difficulties, people ask for change..
so they change... things... and because they are incompetent, they react randomly, or sometimes it is even worse, they come up with a plan !! the plan to generalize, to sanitize, to take less and less risks. Taking immediately the path to mediocrity, hence killing any chance of success.

That is the policy of the stupids and the chicken-hearted, the copycats of this terrible mascarade, practiced by the "masters" of marketing in all their falsity !

I think it is so casual, so standard, so widespread in the industrial world, because networks are an industry, the are subjected to the same laws.

If if you answer me that, there is some Network's Ceos that are same now than at the beginning of the network so my "incompetent" argument is irrelevant, I have seen that behavior before :
You launch a network's concept, you have balls, it is the beginning, lets get crazy and try things with our heart and hopes, what do we have to lose ? yesterdays there was a gap in the market, let's go for it ! we need to attract a whole new population so you have to give taste to your stuff, to innovate, to make quality !

Then the years pass and you get fearful, you are not the master of your making any more, you become the victim of it.
More and more people become dependent on it as it grows, new investors, your shareholders, the board, your way of life, your kid's education, your wife's shopping sprees,... and that is when you loose it and destroy everything in the name of "if it has no taste, nobody can dislike it"
The problem is that, nobody will like it either.

Posted By Gouac,

I have an other point to make, you are justifying the executive choices by the idea that they make more money doing it...
...It is so sad to think like that !

You are ok with everything becoming crap as long as the company makes more money ?

No, really, are you sure you agree with that ? don't you see that this policy is exactly what's destroying everything in the world we live in ?

Posted By Gouac,

lakawak - You are a twat. Then if they are losing money....change the name of their channels altogether and call them something more in line with the programming. here are some suggestions

JAC - Just Another Channel
MC - More Crap
SOSO - Same Ole Same Ole
JLTOCYWV - Just Like The Other Channel You Were Viewing
PTSH - Pleasing the ShareHolders
NO - Nothing Original

Posted By birdsqueet,

You missed the biggest sell out, MTV. Of course their dropping of Music Videos doesn't seem to have hurt them very much.

Posted By lockheed40,

As far as science fiction goes, the genre has pretty much lost me anyway. Sci-fi used to offer some hope and optimism for the future. But now it seems that each of its most successful shows and movies suggests to us, once again, that five or ten years from now we'll need to know how to hunt animals, shoot people, and ward off zombies in a post-apocalyptic no need to worry about what your children want to grow up to be or where they'll go to college.

Posted By Dunkle Vergeltungsente der Finsternis,

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