An Open Letter to the Big Five Networks, Re: Summer TV

Dear ABC CBS, FOX, NBC and the CW,

Yesterday, the NY Times Media Decoder Blog revealed that “the four major broadcast network are performing abysmally across the board in viewers between the ages of 18 and 49, posting the lowest combined ratings in that category ever for the four networks.”

Translation: Audience levels for network summer fare are sinking faster than this TV Addict’s confidence in HEROES since Bryan Fuller’s surprise announcement on Monday.

Which naturally begs the slightly awkward albeit painfully obvious question: If television is habitual (see: the continued success of CBS’ entire roster of aging procedurals) why are you spending all summer long doing your best to inexplicably break said habit courtesy of a painfully uninteresting mix of reruns (ie: last night’s sked which included repeats of THE MENTALIST, HOUSE, NCIS and 48 HOURS) and reality TV (ie: I’M A CELEBRITY… GET ME OUT OF HERE, THE SUPERSTARS and AMERICA’S GOT TALENT)?

Wake up and smell the ratings.

Nobody is watching Network this summer. Which means come Fall, you’re all going to have to work that much harder to win back the millions of viewers you’ve lost to cable, the internet and the multitude of other digital distractions over the course of June, July and August. Which is a shame, because if cable has taught us anything, it’s that all it would have taken were a few good men (namely, Jeffrey Donovan and Mark Feuerstein) to attract some viewers. Viewers that would more than likely have been helpful in terms of promoting your new crop of shows during the pivotal summer months leading up to your always risky, not to mention increasingly expensive fall launch.

We’re just sayin’ — something to think about for next season perhaps. Throwing loyal viewers one show, maybe two, to keep fans from fleeing. Just think about it will you — TNT and USA certainly did.

And FYI: We’re fairly confident that any medium that helped to extend “Speidi’s” fifteen minutes of fame automatically becomes ineligible for any form of government bailout. Or at least they should.

Your #1 Fan,
The TV Addict

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  • Ace

    I would actually rather watch repeats of shows I enjoy than almost all of the shows the networks have to offer this summer. They used to use the summer to help build an audience for shows that could be great if more people watched (Friends, Seinfeld, etc.). So I’d rather see repeats of Chuck, Dollhouse, and Better Off Ted instead of yet another reality show about D-list stars or weddings. Also, I like that NBC is trying to show a BBC mini series (Merlin), but I wish it was a better mini series. Summer is the best time to do a short run show (USA has been doing it for years w/ Psych, Monk and their newer shows; the OC started in the summer and did great).

  • TVFan

    So true.

    Outside of SYTYCD, the only channels you’ll catch me watching in the summer are HBO, Showtime, TNT, USA… and if I’m being honest — TLC, for Jon & Kate Plus 8

  • Nick

    Maybe someone can offer an explanation of why REAPER has been pulled from Sunday nights after one airing, and replaced by “Valentine,” starting this weekend. I’m sure that will just draw viewers in droves.

    Yes, it is sad commentary when I look at network TV in the summer and am reduced to watching fat people bounce off big rubber balls on Wipeout.

  • Nick

    P.S. Since some CW exec may read this…..

    I just read over on TV Guide that Body Politic and the Lily spinoff are still “in contention” for midseason. Inexplicable, yes. But since there’s no groundswell of fan support for the GG project, why not toss those vocal crazies a bone and pick up Body Politic. At least if it fails, you can say you tried to appease the fans….and nobody watched.

  • Deb Hill

    The networks’ summer fare of offerings are even more abysmal than they’ve been in past years! I don’t even turn the TV on anymore unless it is to watch a DVD. The only programs worth watching are Harper’s Island and the TNT’s summer lineup. If another show with half-witted, no name, non-celebrities hits the airwaves, I am going to hurl! Enough! Reruns would be much better than the junk currently on the air. It is so bad I’ve been forced to go EXERCISE rather than watch TV in the evening! OMG!

  • Ace

    Nick — Not to mention that Body Politic is both timely and original, unlike a primetime soap set in the 80s. There really aren’t any good political oriented shows on right now and taking it from the intern/up-and-coming perspective would be entertaining. I would definitely watch Body Politic.

  • Christine

    Nick–Body Politic’s official dead at the CW, according to many insiders. I’m not sure where TV Guide got their info, unless it’s just old news.

    NBC and ABC are looking at it. At the very least, networks, BODY POLITIC would be something you could air next summer–at least it’s a show that appears like it could compete with the cable shows and already has an audience unlike the vast majority of new shows you’ve been putting forth these last few weeks. I’ve yet to find one that will stick.

  • Ace

    Here is what TV Guide said yesterday:

    Is there a shot for the CW to pick up Body Politic as a midseason replacement? From the sneak peeks I’ve seen, it looks like it’s got lots of promise, and I really need a weekly Jason Dohring fix! — Gina
    MICKEY: I’m with you, Gina! Body reminds me of the heady mid-’90s, when I actually called Washington, D.C., home (in large part because of the movie St. Elmo’s Fire). My CW mole tells me that the Beltway drama is still in the running for a midseason slot, but that it’s up against the Gossip Girl spin-off, which has a few high-ranking fans in the building.

  • I wholeheartedly concur!! It makes absolutely no sense to me why the big networks continually let the cable networks own the summer. Don’t get me wrong—I live for the summer USA and TNT shows (which now aren’t even really only airing new episodes during the summer). But I think it would be far wiser for the networks to think about moving shows that aren’t doing well during the regular season to the summer season and just cut their episode orders. Those shows have audiences, they just don’t have big enough audiences during the regular season. That way the networks keep quality projects around and actually have good television to air during the summer months. It would be a win-win for everyone involved, if only they’d think before they cancel! (Read: RIP TSCC.)

  • Jess

    I can never understand why the networks are still holding on to the old view that people don’t watch TV during the summer. It’s ridiculous especially with the advent of DVRs,TIVOs,&internet availability. mean hello when are they going to learn from the cable and british channels give us something good to watch and it really doesn’t matter what season its in. Look at True Blood, Army Wives, Eureka great shows that air when they air and that fine. Just keep us entertained stop focusing so much on what time of year it is.

  • AJ

    I think it’s naive of the networks to assume that viewers don’t want to watch reruns. if a show is good, it’s worth watching more than once. (some of us don’t watch the episodes online (internet is too slow and can’t afford to upgrade). take the summer to replay the whole season again. take a cue from lost and show pop up versions to encourage viewers to stick with it.

    along those lines, they REALLY should run lost pop ups in the fall and new lost in the winter/spring!!!!!

  • Christine

    Ace- I did see that and I realize TV Guide posted it yesterday. What I meant was that I’m not sure where they got that info or if they’re late in posting it because people associated with the show (including one of the actresses, Jenny Wade) reported about a week ago that it’s officially dead at the CW.

    Still hoping NBC or ABC will give it a shot, even though their schedules are packed.

  • Ace

    Christine — I figured that. It was more for other people so they would know what Nick was referring to :). I hope you are right about NBC/ABC. You have to figure quite a few of their new shows won’t fair very well.