TV Programming • American viewing habits have changed rapidly over the last two decades. • Americans have more programming choices. Average American receives 74 channels but only watches 15-17. • Americans have more “entertainment” choices. • Americans can determine when, where and how they watch their favorite programs.
TV Programming • The primary goal of broadcast networks, local stations and basic cable networks is to maximize the size of an audience targeted by advertisers. • The primary goal of specialty cable networks is to attract the most viewers possible from its target audience to entice advertisers with looking for those demographics. • The primary goal of a public television station is to provide alternative, educational and/ or informative programming.
TV Programming We’re going to look at programming from several angles: • What kinds of programs are available? • Where do those programs originate? • Who pays for those programs? • Who makes money off those programs?
A Programmer’s Task • Choose programs that meet the needs and wants of an audience. • Negotiate the development or “rights” to a program. • Organize those programs into a cohesive schedule that flows from one program to the next. • Market the programs to the appropriate audience. • Convince advertisers the programs will reach their consumers.
TV “Dayparts” • 7-9 a.m. Early Morning • 9-Noon Morning • Noon-3 p.m. Early Fringe • 3-5 p.m. Fringe • 5-6 p.m. Late Fringe • 6-8 p.m. Access • 8-11 p.m. Primetime • 11-1 a.m. Late Night • 1 a.m.-7 a.m. Overnight
Programming Genres • Sitcoms • Dramas • Action-Adventure (Westerns, Sci-Fi, Cop Shows) • Soap Operas (daytime and primetime) • Reality • Game Shows • Variety • How to Shows
Programming Genres • Animation • Children’s Programming • Movies (Made-for-TV, Theatrical) • Mini-Series • Specials • News • Sports
Where Does Network Television Programming Come From? • Broadcast networks (ABC, CBS, NBC, Fox, WB, UPN) buy many of their programs from studios(some of which now own broadcast or cable networks) or independent producers or produce the programs themselves.
Financial Syndication Rule The financial syndication rule previously prohibited broadcast networks from owning primetime programming and syndicating it (selling it) among local television stations and cable networks. The rule was put in place to keep television networks from becoming too rich, too powerful and too controlling.
Financial Syndication Rule Broadcast networks, which reached 90 percent of primetime viewers in their heyday, had tremendous potential to influence viewers. Plus, they were “money machines,” and allowing them to make even more money through selling programming to local stations made the FCC nervous. The FCC did not want those powerful few controlling the airwaves. Networks were only allowed to own or produce 2.5 hours of entertainment programming. There were no restrictions on news and sports.
Fin-Syn • The rule was repealed in 1992 and disappeared in 1995. • The disappearance of the rule has transformed the television business. • Warner Brothers and Paramount, which were already in the business of producing programming, launched their own networks so they would have a place to air their product. • Disney bought ABC/Cap Cities for the same reason. • NBC was the only network without a major Hollywood studio connection until its recent acquisition of Vivendi-Universal. • Now, every major broadcast network has a significant production presence as well several outlets for distribution.
Fin-Syn • In 1985, the networks collectively owned 7 percent of their primetime schedule (the rule at the time allowed networks to each own only 2.5 hours of its entire primetime schedule). • Now, the networks have an interest in or own over half of their primetime schedule. • What does this mean to viewers?
Fin-Syn Thanks to the repeal of the financial-syndication rule, those broadcast networks, the same ones the FCC feared were becoming too powerful, now control many of the channels we watch as well as what’s on them.
Where Do Cable Programs Come From? • Cable networks often create and produce their own programming. • Or buy programming from program syndicators. • Or buy programming from independent program producers or production houses. • Many cable networks are owned by large media corporations who are in the primary business of creating programming. Developing a cable channel gives them an outlet for their product.
Who Do Public TV Stations Get Their Programs? Public television stations air programs they select from offerings provided by PBS. Many of those programs, or their producers, receive funding from the government. Many public television stations, especially in large markets, create their own programming.
Programming Costs • Television programming is expensive to produce. • “ER” cost NBC $2 million an episode when it debuted. It now costs over $13 million. An episode of “Survivor” costs $695,000. • An average night of primetime programming costs between $3 and $5 million. Programming costs account for more than half of a network’s total expenses.
Local TV Programming • Local television stations air programs they receive from the network with which they are affiliated. This usually accounts for 75 percent of their schedule. • They fill non-network time periods with local programs (usually news and sports) and programs they purchase from outside sources (syndicators)
Syndicated TV Programming • Syndicated programming is sold by distribution companies to local broadcast stations and cable networks. • First-run programming refers to programs produced primarily for sale to individual stations (for example, Oprah, Dr. Phil, Live, Wheel of Fortune, ET,Ellen, etc.). Some new ventures for 2006-07 include Geraldo at Large,Judge Maria Lopez, The Greg Behrendt Show, Dr. Keith Ablow.
Syndicated TV Programming • Off-network programming refers to programs that have previously aired on a broadcast network (for example: Everybody Loves Raymond, Friends, ER) • Syndicated prices are based on market size. Stations also negotiate the number of “runs,” per title. • First-run programs are priced on an annual or multiple-year contract.
Syndicated TV Programming • Off-network is based on a per-episode fee. Everybody Loves Raymond is priced at $8,000 an episode. There are 200 episodes. Cost to the station is $$1,600,000, but station is obligated to take any additional episodes produced for the network at a 10 percent annual increase.
Syndicated TV Programming • Many syndicated programs now contain commercials sold by the syndicator and stations are obligated to air those commercials even if they pre-empt or cancel the program. • Stations also can obtain programming through barter. Stations keep half of the commercial inventory, the syndicator keeps the other half. No money changes hands.
Programming Strategies • Lead-off: placing the strongest program in the first position of the daypart to attract the largest possible audience (Friends on NBC on Thursday) • Lead-in: placing a strong program before a new or weaker show (Raymond before 2 ½ Men on CBS Monday)
Programming Strategies • Hammocking: placing a new or weaker show between two strong programs (placing Coupling between Will and Grace & ER on NBC on Thursday) • Block Programming: placing programs of the same genre back-to-back (four comedies on CBS on Monday)
Programming Strategies • Tent-Poling: using the strongest program to anchor the schedule at 9 p.m. (Two and A Half Men on CBS on Monday) • Counter-Programming: offering a programming slate that attracts an audience different from that of the competition (CBS’s comedy block vs. MNF on ABC; Survivor began as counter- programming to NBC’s Thursday night lineup)
Programming Strategies • Stunting: doing anything unusual to the regular lineup (running two episodes of That 70s Show back-to-back, having a big-name guest star appear in episodes of back-to-back sitcoms, etc.)
Programming Strategies • Bridging: rarely used strategy of starting an hour program on the half hour to get a head start on the competition
Issues in TV Programming • Diversity • Violence • Family Viewing Hour • Sexual Responsibility • “Good Taste”
TV’s Broadcast Primetime Programming Slate • Game Shows: 5 • Movies: 4 • Animation: 1 • Sports: 0 • News: 7 • Reality: 14 • Dramas: 27 • Sitcoms: 18