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Tube Talk: Playing catchup
Posted By Brandon Reid On August 5, 2009 @ 4:37 pm In Online Exclusives | No Comments
When I was a kid, the major networks seemed to air reruns all summer long. It was kind of fun catching up on shows you seldom saw—almost like a whole new season.
You would think being able to get multiple airings out of the same episode and earning new ad dollars for inventory they’d already used would make perfect sense, but somewhere along the line, summer repeats seemed to fall out of favor.
First, newsmagazines started to take over (at one point it felt as if Dateline was on every night of the week). Next, reality shows invaded our TV screens. After that, a new wave of game shows hit. Compared with scripted dramas or comedies, news programs, reality series and game shows are inexpensive to produce, offering networks brand-new content and a good return on their investments.
Another reason some networks don’t repeat a lot of shows is because VCRs and DVRs mean viewers can tape shows when they aren’t home, and if they forget to record their favorite show, they can probably watch it online. These days, it’s like you have to try to miss a new episode of your favorite show.
It’s also understandable that networks want fresh programming to compete against cable’s popular summer series like Burn Notice, Mad Men and The Closer. Hey, if I have to choose between seeing Michael Westen’s latest caper on Burn Notice or watching a rerun of CSI, I’ll break out the yogurt and see what ol’ Mikey’s up to.
Like a lot of people, I appreciate occasional reruns. They offer a chance to see episodes you may have missed, but are also good opportunities to discover shows that didn’t capture your attention the first time around.
CBS has always been good about repeating popular series during summer months. That’s usually when I catch up with Criminal Minds, NCIS and, this summer, The Mentalist. ABC is even repeating Grey’s Anatomy, Private Practice, Desperate Housewives and Brothers & Sisters, although by their very nature, serials don’t tend to repeat well, since it can be difficult for new viewers to dive into ongoing storylines. Shows that tend to do stand-alone episodes—like the CBS series I just mentioned and NBC’s Law & Order shows—always tend to perform better in subsequent airings, so networks are more likely to repeat them.
CBS, in particular, seems to know that shows in particularly competitive timeslots can benefit from repeats, so re-runs are a cheap marketing tool to lure new viewers that may stick around for first-run episodes come fall.
The strategy works.
This summer, I’ve been enjoying new-to-me repeats of How I Met Your Mother and The Big Bang Theory—both CBS sitcoms. (I am disappointed they aren’t airing back-to-back anymore. I really liked the pairing.) I’m already sold on these shows enough to consider moving them to my priority list of first-run viewing this fall. If CBS hadn’t been repeating those shows, I wouldn’t be tuning in this fall.
So, what shows have you discovered through summer re-runs?
Paula Hendrickson is a regular contributor to Emmy magazine and Variety, and has been published in numerous national publications, including American Bungalow, Television Week and TVGuide. Send in your suggestions to firstname.lastname@example.org .
From the Aug. 5-11, 2009, issue
Article printed from The Rock River Times: http://rockrivertimes.com
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