Here’s one of those Friday Questions that became a whole post since I’m long-winded. If you’re strapped for time, the short answer is “yes.”
The question is from Michael.
NBC is giving up on scheduling comedies on Thursdays beginning early next year. Do you think it matters anymore when shows are scheduled? What percentage of non-sports shows do you watch in real-time vs time-shifted via dvr, on-demand, or streaming services?
Like I said, yes. Time slots still matter. I talked to a network program scheduler who said at least 50% of the audience still watches in real time.
Just because you can DVR a show doesn’t mean you will. You need to know about it first. You probably need to sample it first, and broadcasting still delivers the biggest opportunity. NBC put A TO Z and ABC put SELFIE on line weeks before their network premiers and both shows are now gone. Previewing shows on line is not a substitute for good time slots or following established hits.
The subsidiary value of monster hit shows is that networks can use them to launch new programs. So they have value beyond just the enviable numbers they receive.
A key factor for new shows is how much they retain the audience from the shows they follow. Drop 50% off THE BIG BANG THEORY and you’re gone. DVR and On Demand bonus viewers won’t help unless they’re spectacular numbers. America has voted.
That said, networks are expanding into more streaming alternatives because it’s clear the handwriting is on the wall. In ten years (or even five) the percentage of people who watch network television in real time will drop significantly. It’s coming. Everybody knows that. New models will be needed and they better be in place. Networks are already behind the curve because they clung to the old methods for so long. But for the moment, scheduling still is how networks launch new shows and perpetuate programming.
And it’s also why networks pay such big bucks for sports like the NFL. Most viewers watch sports in real time. And they can’t skip the commercials. Sports also bring new viewers who wouldn’t ordinarily watch that network. So their promos for new shows get introduced to new eyes.
The network scheduler I talked to also told me a surprising thing. Most of the people who DVR shows still watch the commercials. I don’t know why. I zap through ‘em.
As for me, I’m one of those DVR people. But there are certain shows I really love and will watch them the night they’re on. THE GOOD WIFE is one. MAD MEN is another. Water cooler shows still draw large same-day viewers. THE WALKING DEAD and THE VOICE are two examples. Beyond that, for me, I couldn’t even tell you what night COVERT AFFAIRS is on. It just shows up on my menu.