October 30, 2012


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Written by: Mitch Salem
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We’re now 5 weeks into the 2012-13 TV season, and as we regularly do, it’s time to ask:  What do we know now that we didn’t know a week ago?

NBC Is Running Out Of Sitcoms.  With the cancellation of Animal Practice, the as-planned short final season of 30 Rock, the production halt on Next Caller, the extended hiatus while Up All Night is morphed into a multicamera comedy, and the decision not to go ahead on The Farm (aka the Dwight spin-off of The Office), NBC finds itself oddly low on sitcom reserves.  Despite leaks in almost every ratings direction, the network will have to last till April with 1600 Penn, the very strange Anne Heche vehicle Save Me, and of course the return of Community.  None of these is likely to turn NBC’s comedy ship around, so we can expect a very different sitcom picture for the network in 2013-14.

The Times They Are A-Changin.  CBS is the last remaining bellwether of broadcast network stability, and its decision to order a full season of VEGAS last week despite what had been a 2 rating (it promptly plummeted to 1.6 after the back order was announced) said something about where network TV is these days.  Forget about such smash hits as The Walking Dead or True Blood–that Vegas rating was below the 2nd week number for Week 2 of American Horror Story on FX.  One has to wonder how long the economics of network TV, with revenues limited to advertising rates and no subscription fees, can sustain its usual diet of high-priced weekly entertainment.

Baseball Is A Good Business… Why?  FOX recently re-upped its deal with Major League Baseball to pay nearly $500M per year for coverage of the sport through 2019, and one might fairly wonder what’s in it for the network.  Although final numbers aren’t in, this was probably the lowest rated World Series ever, and the league’s insistence on extending the postseason through October (this year could potentially have run till November 1) means rain delays and other weather issues can wreak havoc with the network’s schedule, as happened to FOX during the National League playoffs.  It all goes to show the value of male-centric programming (even older males, as is the case with baseball) and live broadcasts that compel the watching of commercials.

Beat That Live + 7 Drum.  You’ve never heard so much about the miraculous increases shows have when their ratings are measured over a week rather than 1-3 days.  The obvious reason for that is it’s the only way to make this fall’s plunging numbers sound less terrible, but bear in mind that after Day 3, any extra viewers a show gets are free for the advertisers, who universally pay based on 3 days of viewing only.  All that’s at stake after that are bragging rights.

About the Author

Mitch Salem
MITCH SALEM has worked on the business side of the entertainment industry for 20 years, as a senior business affairs executive and attorney for such companies as NBC, ABC, USA, Syfy, Bravo, and BermanBraun Productions, and before that, at the NY law firm of Weil, Gotshal & Manges. During all that, he has more or less constantly been going to the movies and watching TV, and writing about both since the 1980s. His film reviews also currently appear on and In addition, he is co-writer of an episode of the television series "Felicity."