Message to the Big Networks

I admit I watch a good bit of TV. From 8pm to 11pm I’m usually watching something as it airs or catching up on something I couldn’t watch due to schedule conflicts. I enjoy the shows I watch, I get invested in the story and the characters and get a bit of escape from the grind of the daily routine. The problem usually arises this time of year when the big networks decide what shows they are cancelling and what shows they are keeping.

I’ve noticed the last few years how little time the big networks give a show to gain an audience. I’ve watched some shows that end up getting pulled after three episodes due to “low ratings”. This season alone two shows I started watching in their inaugural season, ended up getting cancelled. It has come to a point where I really have to debate about watching a new show or not, just because I wonder if it will end up cancelled a week later. I figure I’m not the only one.

The networks bemoan their low ratings overall. People have more choices, they go to cable networks, they DVR shows, they maybe wait and get them on DVD, the people are able to watch what they want when they want. That alone hurts the networks.

But the whole cancellation thing is something else that I think is hurting them. Why would people want to invest their time in a show that the networks tout as the next big thing, only to end up cancelling said show after three episodes or even a full season? While I have some issue with Cable networks, they generally keep a show going for a full season. In most cases you’ll get two. The networks don’t seem to be wanting to give a show even a little chance to get a buzz.

So, to all the big networks, stop it. Stop expecting us to watch shows you promote heavily then yank away at the first sign of doom. Stop expecting us to get invested in a story or characters only to suddenly stop. When we sit down to watch something, we have a modicum of expectation that it will be around for a bit. Three episodes into a new show does not a show make. There’s plenty of examples of what is considered classic TV that had issues during their first seasons. Quite a few of those shows didn’t hit their strides until mid way into the second season or the beginning of the third. The story needs a chance to grow, the characters need a chance to grow before a judgement needs to be made about killing it or not.

In a sense, give it some time you big networks. Some of these shows you’re getting rid of could’ve been the next classic. But, now you’ll never know.


Originally published May 14, 2013