The 2011–2012 primetime network television season is well underway, boasting new breakout hits such as 2 Broke Girls, while dust bunnies, such as The Playboy Club, have been quietly swept away. The Nielsen ratings system, which reports audience size and composition, plays a big factor in renewals and cancellations. It is vital that that it tally up views from all the mediums we watch shows on, but it doesn’t necessarily do that.
As of now, CBS has ordered a full season of 2 Broke Girls. NBC is serving up Up All Night and Whitney. Fox picked up New Girl. ABC has given both Revenge and Suburgatory full seasons. The CW has taken a liking to all three of its new dramas, Ringer, The Secret Circle and Hart of Dixie.
“I love Law and Order,” said Adrianna Alvarez, a junior. “I watch the news a lot, Jersey Shore, and a lot of History Channel and National Geographic. I like documentaries. I watched The Real World for the first time…didn’t like it. I watched New Girl. I didn’t like it. I thought it was going to be more witty than it really was. It was surprising because I was really excited for it to come out.”
The CBS sitcom How to Be a Gentleman was cancelled and moved from Thursdays to Saturdays. After one episode, it was pulled completely. NBC’s Free Agents was canned after four episodes and The Playboy Club after three. ABC’s remake of Charlie’s Angels met the chopping block after four episodes but will continue to air.
“I thought Free Agents was horrible,” said Julie Price, a professor of public relations. “It gave a very negative impression of public relations. I was glad that it was cancelled. Up All Night was cute. I am still waiting to see if that takes off and has an audience. I am really looking at how they are promoting the shows rather than content, how they are using commercial media, and how they are looking to engage the audience.”
In the case of The Playboy Club, the first cancellation of the season, network executives wanted an edge in marketing and awareness, so the show depended on its franchise name. To quote an insider, as reported by TV Guide, “It’s a soap, which inherently appeals to women. But, it’s a brand so tied to men.” Horrible promotion before the show premiered did not help its cause. An NBC affiliate refused to air a show with Playboy in its name. Groups such as the Parents Television Council, Morality in Media, the Pink Cross Foundation, Florida Family Association, and the San Francisco Commission on the Status of Women all were against what the show stood for and represented. After the first episode, advertisers including Campbell Soup, Lenovo, Kraft Foods, P. F. Chang’s China Bistro, Spring, Subway, and The UPS Store all pulled their ads.
2 Broke Girls had a recent 10.71 million viewers and a 4.3 18-49 rating, while Revenge attained 7.9 million and a 2.7 18-49 rating. On its last airing, How to Be a Gentleman received a preliminary 2.43 million and a prelim 0.7 18-49 rating. Before its cancellation, Charlie’s Angels pulled 5.91 million viewers and a 1.3 18-49 rating.
Next-day ratings include live viewing and previous nights DVR usage. Since DVRs are used by about 42% of viewers, and programs are watched at a later date, numbers are skewed. Fox’s Terra Nova, which earned a 3.1, later received a 4.4 rating. Two weeks after the fact, ABC found out Pan Am and Revenge were the highest-rated drama premieres.
“I have been so busy,” said Bernie Fabig, a junior. “I really wanted to watch American Horror Story on FX, but I haven’t yet. I have heard a lot of really great reviews about it. I am taking 18 credits and work at night.”
Planning for the 2012-2013 season is already underway. Going back to how shows are promoted and engage the audience, it is easy to understand why remakes such as Charlie’s Angels are developed. This summer, TNT is writing a new chapter for the legendary primetime soap, Dallas, bringing back six original cast members. NBC was in recent talks to redevelop The Munsters, a comedy from the ’60’s reminiscent to I Love Lucy of the ’50’s, with a Modern Family and True Blood twist. This would be a disaster. I can’t imagine sweet, innocent, and iconic characters such as these reformed and transformed to meet today’s standards. They already revived the show in the late ’80’s. Critics are already labeling a new Courteney Cox-David Arquette Pilot as Friends 2.0, which chronicles the ups and downs of a decade-long relationship of a recently separated couple at the center of a group of friends.
“I usually watch Law and Order: SVU and cartoons every once and a while,” said Edward Reyes-Benigno, a freshman. “I watch TV around two or three days a week for an hour.”
My suggestion: Watch whatever makes you happy. If you like drama, catch a drama; if you like comedy, catch a comedy. If you are worried about getting hooked on a network show that get may be cancelled, do a quick Google search to see how it’s doing, or gravitate to a cable series. These shows usually air all of their episodes despite cancellation.