November 24, 2011



The night before Thanksgiving has an odd balance:  viewership is down, but advertiser interest is up (anyone who watched primetime last night was buried under retailer promos for Black Friday sales)–hence, original programming on a night that often sees season-low ratings.
ABC:  The Alphabet was both the main recipient and victim of the odd night.  The network won every time-slot of the evening… and every show on its schedule hit a season low.  Presumably the economics of the night made sense once declines were measured against revenues.  No lasting damage was done to any of the sitcoms, but it’s a bit troublesome for a serialized show like REVENGE, many of whose fans will have missed the last installment of the story.  (A situation not helped by the fact that next week–as much as the end-of-show promo tried to obscure it–Revenge will be airing its first repeat of the season.)

FOX:  A 1-hour X FACTOR (taking the place of what would have been Thursday’s episode) was well below the series norm, followed by a MOBBED special that could only manage 3rd place for its hour.
CBS:  One of the great things about being The Eye, deeply stocked in procedurals that repeat well, is that there’s no need to squander original programming on a low viewing night.  After a SURVIVOR recap show that fans were welcome to miss, reruns of CRIMINAL MINDS and CSI kept the lights on.
NBC:  A quasi-night of original programming that didn’t work out too well.  Again, one assumes the revenues of burning off a new UP ALL NIGHT (and the consequent need to increase the show’s order this week) made sense in terms of ad revenues.  Then a “reunion” BIGGEST LOSER episode appealed to hardly anyone on the night before America traditionally gorges itself on fattening food.
CW:  Didn’t really participate in the night, with an AMERICA’S NEXT TOP MODEL recap “special” and rerun.
Tonight CBS airs all reruns against special family programming on the other networks:  NBC will put on one of the rare theatrical movies to hit network airwaves these days with Horton Hears A Who!, while on ABC and FOX, probably for the first time ever, Charlie Brown specials will compete against each other.  The classic Charlie Brown Thanksgiving is on ABC, and the new Happiness Is A Warm Blanket, Charlie Brown follows an Ice Age special on FOX.  Also, Lady Gaga!  Possibly wearing a turkey-inspired outfit for the occasion rather than steak.

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."