At Adweek, I got to write about an issue that’s been bugging me. Shows are improving themselves in their second season — like Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD and FX’s The Bridge — but they aren’t winning back viewers who bailed on those shows in the first season.
I spoke with FX Networks CEO John Landgraf, who had great insight (as always) about why shows can’t win back their viewers, no matter how great they get. As he told me,
The problem, FX Networks CEO John Landgraf tells Adweek, is that viewers simply have too many other options to be patient. “There will be about 350 scripted original series this year aired on linear and nonlinear services in the U.S. That’s really an unprecedented volume,” said Landgraf, whose team compiles a list of every season of scripted and unscripted series that airs. Last year’s total: 1,400 original seasons of material, with 2014’s tally looking to be even higher. “And so I think that consumers just have too many options,” Landgraf said. “Why should you ever watch anything other than something that’s the equivalent of a four-star movie or a four-star television show?”
Landgraf also talked about his agonizing decision to cancel The Bridge, a show which soared creatively in Season 2.
Why a Great Second Season is Often Too Late to Save a Struggling Show
Viewers are taking longer than ever to watch TV shows, but when it comes to news series, networks don’t have the luxury of waiting several days or weeks for audiences to sample them and decide whether or not they want to see more. That’s why the pilots for several new series are being released weeks and even months before they premiere. As I wrote at Quartz,
Broadcast networks insist that they now program year-round (and indeed, have been doing just that), but almost all of their biggest shows still debut during the same two-week period in late September and early October. This makes it especially brutal for new shows to find an audience, so the online premieres gives viewers an early opportunity to sample them and, the networks hope, get hooked and start spreading the word before the shows enter the TV equivalent of Thunderdome.
I question whether viewers who watch and like the A to Z pilot will still be interested when the show actually premieres in October, but until the broadcast networks stop premiering all their fall shows in the same two week period, they’ll need all the help they can get.
TV is no longer where TV series premiere
Today I wrote about ABC’s odd decision to take a modern day take on My Fair Lady, and call it Selfie. Speaking at TCA summer press tour, the show’s creator Emily Kapnek said the title “feels very topical and relevant to me,” but I’m not so sure:
But taking a series, which its creator and the network hope will air for years to come, and calling it Selfie seems about as risky a bet as naming a show Macarena back in the mid-1990s (which no one did, thankfully). Given that some have argued that the word has already jumped the shark, Selfie’s title could quickly feel dated, and eventually become an albatross for the show.
Only time will tell if audiences will find Selfie, and its title, worthy of a retweet — or a delete.
‘Selfie’ was the word of the year—and now it’s a TV show