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Where Have the Viewers Gone?

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I am certainly not in the 18-24 demographic causing the greatest concern in this NY Times article, but I can tell you this: I have barely missed an inning of the MLB playoffs and World Series, and the unrelenting promos for The New Joe Millionaire and Skin have cumulatively induced in me an aversion to either show that approaches physical nausea.

More (and more and more and more and more ……) is NOT better, and the endless litany of spots flogging these shows has done nothing but give me time to think about what an absurd, cruel, played out, pointless sack of shit the “Joe Millionaire” concept now is, and that the need for another version of Romeo and Juliet is nonexistent.

Some things can, and some things cannot be repeated – a show based upon deceit, dashed hopes, and thinly veiled xenophobia as is the new Millionaire, is just not going to make it this time around. It’s done – toast – in the wind – yesterday’s new – a week-old fish sandwich.

Skin may or may not be an interesting show, I’ll never know because the landslide of promos for it have long since reached the saturation point in my brain and spilled over into “get the flying fuck out of my face or I’ll puke on you” territory. Sorry Fox programmers and marketers, just being honest.

There are two issues here, the first being that most of network TV, and in particular “reality” TV, is just unmitigated excrement. Once the novelty angle of “reality” programming is gone – and it is SO spectacularly gone – then you actually have to come up with a compelling SHOW, and the vast majority just aren’t.

The other issue is promotion, and while there is nothing wrong with letting viewers know about your other shows, don’t ram a firehose down their throats and then be surprised when they run full-speed in the opposite direction choking, spitting and cursing.

It would appear I am not the only one suffering this reaction:

    Network executives are baffled by a season unlike any seen before. Returning hit shows like “Friends” and “E.R.” are losing significant numbers of viewers from previous years. New shows have performed far worse than almost anyone expected, a result capped off Monday night when the Fox network started two shows that had received huge promotional pushes during the baseball playoffs, “The Next Joe Millionaire” and “Skin,” and they posted crushingly disappointing numbers. And men between 18 and 24 are apparently deserting television in droves. So far this year nearly 20 percent fewer men in that advertiser-friendly demographic are watching television during prime time than during the same period last year.

    ….Gail Berman, the president of Fox Entertainment, acknowledged that the network was disappointed, though she said “Joe Millionaire” might grow as it goes along. She also pledged to run “Skin” in other time periods to build an audience for it.

    But the numbers were sobering, she conceded. “We’ve now experienced a taste of what our competitors have been through this fall,” Ms. Berman said.

    Mr. Sternberg summed up the state of television at the moment: “No one knows what’s going on.”

I just told you, dumbass.

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About Eric Olsen

  • Antfreeze

    What’s going on is exactly what you’re experiencing. People are finally waking up to the demon of advertising. Shove it to far back there and you begin to retch. I’m spammed, pop-upped, jingled, and promo’d out. We’re all having to build our own mental firewalls. I’m so happy when I close a pop-up ad before it’s even finished displaying so I don’t even know who the scum-bag was. Hopefully people will start to make purchasing decisions based on quality and that means the house of cards that is the american advertising industry is teetering on the brink. I’ve got some toilets that they can clean after their collapse.

  • The Theory

    The problem, then, is that advertising HAS to work to a degree. If companies think that their ads are driving away customers and being anti-productive, they’ll pull ads off the air. Which sounds nice until we stop getting any kind of free tv.

    I personally don’t have cable, so if NBC, FOX, and so forth, fold or become a charge channel, I won’t be able to watch anything but videos.

    And of course, as most of you realize, most cable stations have commercials, too, so all of those channels would become fee-basesd, too. Like HBO or pay-per-view.

    Or maybe that’s not a bad thing. God knows we spend too much time infront of the tv. Sure, I’ll miss my Conan OBrien and football games, but at least i can spend the time doing something productive… like post on blogcritics.

  • http://www.foliage.com/~marks Mark Saleski

    i’m down to watching Ed and The West Wing.

    that’s it.

    though i would watch an old-style mtv kinda thing if it was available (i can get M2 but it would require a cable box…which i’m opposed to)

  • http://www.foliage.com/~marks Mark Saleski

    oh wait…i do watch the jamie oliver series too.

  • Eric Olsen

    Broadcast television is going to have to get better, not worse, if it hopes to keep the audience it has now, which is greatly reduced from what it once was by cable, computers, Internet, video games, etc. Rehashed “reality” shows isn’t going to cut it. As the options continue to expand, entertainment consumers are becoming more volatile, picky, and demanding. As with music, either adapt or die.

  • jadester

    it’s not so much *just* advertising. I can stand a certain level of advertising, but these days it’s getting STUPID. there’s blatant, crass commercialisation in almost everything (except, possible, some films)
    it seems the ad companies are going to be found out soon for their age-old strategy of “more, More, MORE!” being the only way to have an advert work.
    it also doesn’t help matters that, as has already been pointed out here, the majority of “new” shows the broadcasters bill as being “The Next Big Thing” are simply “The Last Tired Thing” re-packaged slightly and re-named even more unimaginatively ONCE AGAIN.
    Big Brother should NEVER in a MILION years lasted as long as it has. Now, what’s the betting c4 continues running series of it until there’s only a few thousand viewers left?

  • Bleu

    “Joe Millionaire” seems aimed at women to me – gets those catfight juices going. It’s odd that they’re promoting it so heavily during the World Series, which probably draws more male viewers than female.

  • Eric Olsen

    good point Bleu, I think they were just pumping whatever was up next, and they were really going for that Monday, which was an off-day from the Series.