Friday, June 05, 2015

Friday Questions

June Friday Questions are busting out all over.

Tobi Gordon is up first.

Will you please explain the fascination of programming everything worth watching on Sunday nights between 9-11:30 pm?

Of course, we can TIVO, tape, OnDemand like crazy, but wouldn't it be better to spread the wealth across the week? They're deliberately abandoning the audience for quality TV 6 days a week.

Sunday is the night that has the largest viewership. It’s the end of the weekend and most people are home gearing up for the week ahead. During the week folks work at night, take classes, hook up with Tinder dates, are in bowling leagues, or drink heavily. Pretty much anything other than go to Tampa Bay Rays home games. So more eyeballs.

And now with DVR’s networks are less inclined to move a powerhouse show out of Sunday because two hits can co-exist nicely.

Networks that have NFL football on Sunday also have the advantage of having a big audience to start with once their primetime lineup begins.

I also think that when HBO scheduled THE SOPRANOS for Sunday night that sort of set the template for quality TV on that night.

blinky asks:

This season on Orphan Black they are doing behind the scenes vignettes DURING the show. The actors break character and they show the sets with green screen backdrops, even playing with the pet scorpion. Imagine Alan Alda and Larry Linville walking around the set on M*A*S*H joking about how the camp is inside a big studio in Century City. Maybe showing how the operating room and shower are right next to each other.  Doesn't this just ruin the illusion of the show?

I think it does, but it depends on the genre and the target viewer. I suspect ORPHAN BLACK’S audience is very media savvy and enjoys a brief lift of the curtain.

Commentary tracks on DVD’s have taken us behind-the-scenes on most of our favorite movies and TV series. So we’re now used to seeing how the magicians do the tricks.

And ORPHAN BLACK is kind of a unique case because you’re always watching on two levels – following the story and marveling at how Tatiana Maslany can play these multiple characters.

cd1515 has a question everyone over 34 asks:

Why are young people "all the nets care about" when most of them have no money?

Because they are still open to choices. At some point people decide on their brand of toothpaste, laundry detergent, gun, etc. But younger people are more open to try new things.

Plus, since movies are geared to them exclusively, the only money studios spend for advertising is to attract those moviegoers who text, talk, and bring babies to the theater.

michael wraps it up.

Question for your baseball and director side. Would you direct a TV telecast of a baseball game different? I feel one of the reasons games seem slow is due to the amount of long static shots and the repetition of shots - pitcher, batter, from behind the pitcher, batter reacts, repeat. I would like to see the entire game - show me the defense, show me less of the players in the dugout and more players on the field communicating, how about showing the third base coach give signs, etc.

I could direct AVATAR 2 before I could direct a live baseball game. Talk about confusing. I’ve been in the truck and watched guys direct baseball games. It’s insane. He has all these camera choices – there’s seven to twenty monitors.

A batter hits the ball. And now all hell breaks lose. Because cameras are following the ball from different angles you look up and on four monitors the ball is going right and on five others it’s going left. Other cameras have runners racing around. You don’t know which runner is which or what base he’s going to. And the director has to call off “Camera four, camera six, camera two” instantly as the action unfolds.

And then there’s instant replays.  I shudder just to think about it. 

What I want to leave you with now is an amazing video. Harry Coyle was maybe the greatest baseball director ever. Watch and listen to him direct an NBC Game of the Week. This was on national TV live. After a couple of minutes there’s a power failure and he must then direct the game with only one camera. Even if you’re not a baseball fan you will be enthralled by this.


Unknown said...

Hi Ken, in Sam"s office on Cheers there a picture of two boxers holding a baby can You tell me there names? (Jeremy)

Sarah said...

I'm 29 years old and hate going to movies precisely because of those that talk, text, and bring inappropriately young children (and many of those in the latter category are absolutely older than me). Don't appreciate the assumption being made that rude behavior at the theater is an age thing. Rude behavior at the theater is a "people are inconsiderate morons" thing.

Hank Gillette said...

Directors of live television are amazing. Sports, news, award shows, the rare live program, I can’t imagine how they do it. Most of them are so good that you are barely aware that all this is going on. I’m sure these people would make excellent air traffic controllers (and maybe vice versa?). They probably wouldn’t want to take the pay cut though.

Bill Jones said...

That Harry Coyle video was awesome. But I have a follow-up question: What are the announcers watching in the booth (besides the live game, of course)? Do they have all the monitors, or a subset of the monitors, or just one monitor with the same thing the home viewer sees?

Also, how do the announcers know that an instant reply is about to be shown?

MikeK.Pa. said...

I believe the first use of "instant replay" was in 1963 during the Army-Navy game. It was so unique - and remember this was the 1960s - that the announcer had to tell viewers that it wasn't another touchdown being scored. I once worked in sports pr and had occasion to visit the control room trucks. Controlled chaos is best word to describe it. Amazing Xanax isn't passed around liberally before the telecasts.

Hamid said...

I could direct AVATAR 2 before I could direct a live baseball game.

I'd rather see your version of Avatar than the one we got. It was one of the most tedious moviegoing experiences I've ever had. It's not a good sign when you look at your watch thinking at least an hour must have passed only to see you're just 25 minutes into the movie.

I miss the James Cameron of Terminator, Aliens and True Lies. I'd rather watch Police Academy 27 than sit through Avatar again.

Tom Quigley said...

RE: inappropriate behavior in movie theaters -- When FANTASIA was re-released in the '90s, I went to a cineplex to see it (I think It was the one at the Fallbrook Mall in Woodland Hills), expecting that all true devotees of film and animation as art would probably be filling the theater to study, cogitate and ponder on its magnificence and its place in cinematic history. What I ended up encountering was a theater full of young moms who were bringing their toddlers to see (no doubt) "The Mickey Mouse Movie" and the young ones (God bless 'em) didn't shut up or stop running through the aisles during the entire film -- and the kids were even worse. I came to the conclusion that the parents who had brought these kids were either terribly misinformed about what FANTASIA was about or contained and its cultural significance, or they just had no clue as to what they were going to be seeing, believing it to be a two-hour cartoon show.

ally said...

Harry Coyle was amazing in that video, but I have a soft spot in my heart for Mario. What great camera work!

John Hammes said...

Ed Sullivan was "Mr. Sunday Night" 23 years... talk about a show and host that was purposely all over the place!

Hard to believe, but one remembers when most businesses would either be closed or work minimal hours on Sunday. Ed (and television as a whole) certainly had an audience ready for entertainment. His motto was always "something for everyone". During the later years, viewers must have made some interesting riffing at the television, as Ed was now featuring some psychedelic rock alongside Rodney Dangerfield, Moms Mabley, those plate spinners, that annoying mouse...
(any fond memories? I was 6 when the show ended, and mostly remember when the Muppets would appear).

It was indeed still something for everyone, sometimes to the point of no theme or cohesion - the acts appeared, the hour ended - but darn it, it worked and it worked big.
This could only happen in a three network, one television universe circa late '60s.

Come to think of it, wasn't Sunday night also a powerhouse during radio's golden age, 1930s - mid '50s?

"Kiss me goo night, Eddie..."
-that annoying mouse

Eric J said...

I doubt I've seen baseball more than a dozen times and then only short portions of a game. But that video was a riveting performance of professionals completely in control. The team of Harry Coyle and Mario after the power outage let the viewer see exactly what they would have wanted to see when they wanted to see it as the play progressed. I watched it three times.

Baseball might be interesting if they showed the whole thing from the director's POV like this. :)

blinky said...

I have to disagree about directing baseball. I use to work camera for MLB and my wife ran slo-mo in the truck. The director had it down to a science. The director and her would play cards during the game. All contingencies were planned out and it was quite easy for him.

H Johnson said...

That was effin' awesome. Thanks.


Steve B. said...

Ken, the argument about why the 18-49 demo is so important has evolved over the years. Today, advertisers pay a premium for shows that attract them for one simple reason - this audience watches less television. It's supply and demand. Older people watch more TV, and thus it is much easier for a sponsor to reach them. Everything else (buying habits, disposable income, etc.) is secondary.

Steve B. said...

Oops, forgot my link. TV By The Numbers explains 18-49 here:

TheThomme said...

My favorite director's track:

Oat Willie said...

Steve B: Now I understand those toy parrot commercials (with Hanna-Barbara sound effects) apparently aimed at dementia patients.

Carson said...

You've talked about shooting M*A*S*H at the Fox Ranch and how after daylight saving time ended it became very difficult. But I was wondering if you could give a breakdown of how a shooting day at the ranch would go. I don't know how sitcoms, especially M*A*S*H, were/are able to get all their location shooting typically done in one day.

VP81955 said...

It's so much easier to direct a football game. Nobody gives a damn about anything other than the quarterbacks, which is why they're continually pictured -- even when they're not involved in the play.

Anonymous said...

Before there was Harry Coyle there was Arnie Harris in Chicago at WGN. I'm going to say he was the greatest because I thin k Harry Coyle must have learned some of his mastery watching Arnie's work in the 1950's and 1960's. Arnie invented the centerfield shot looking in at home plate.

Steven said...

I've noticed that some recent network sitcoms, such as The Goldbergs, the writers will add in profanity that they presumably know is going to get bleeped.

My question is, why do writers put profanity in a script if they know it's going to get bleeped? Do they think it makes a particular joke funnier even though the bleep ruins the chance to completely appreciate the intended punchline?

Terrence Moss said...

Older viewers are becoming more and more open to choices now that people are forced to make a dollar out of 25 cents. So the mindset about older viewers is becoming outdated.

Terrence Moss said...

Older viewers are becoming more and more open to choices now that people are forced to make a dollar out of 25 cents. So the mindset about older viewers is becoming outdated.

Terrence Moss said...

Older viewers are becoming more and more open to choices now that people are forced to make a dollar out of 25 cents. So the mindset about older viewers is becoming outdated.

gottacook said...

So what do you know about this?

Anonymous said...

Did the director of Fox's World Series telecasts ever marry the guy in the Royal's dugout? I certainly was an on camera love fest!

michael said...

Thanks for answering my question and giving me a more realistic view of a director's life at a baseball game. But I saw more camera movement and more of the game covered by Mario and his one camera than I do on a typical ESPN game.

Of course, then we watched the ballgame and focused on the score. Today its all about the story line of the game, pre-game style interviews now done during the game, graphics and fantasy numbers. But I can't blame that on the director.

Having the power go out on Harry and Mario was a crime, having it go out on such broadcasts as the Texas Rangers would be a blessing.

James said...

"Because they are still open to choices. At some point people decide on their brand of toothpaste, laundry detergent, gun, etc."

I'm sorry, but--I've heard this all my life and it's bullshit. I'm middle-aged and there are plenty of things where I have no preference on a brand for something I have to buy or have done. Sometimes it's a new product, sometimes it's an old product where the brand I buy has changed and I'm no longer happy with it, sometimes it's an old product where I just never cared. Or it's an old product where the brand I liked quit being sold. I can think of several instances where that happened.

Point being that most teens I know are for more opinionated on their brand preferences than I am. Appealing only to the young demographic isn't smart advertising, it's lazy advertising.

michael said...

I am old. I used to understand demos and their purpose. Demos allow the advertiser to reach more of its target audience and spend less on those who do not use the product.
A one size fits all demo makes no sense. When did over 30 let alone 49 become young? The brand loyalty period is 18-25, it is a period most of us leave home and start making consumer decisions for ourselves. So tell me where the 26-49 fit in there?
The point of advertising is to establish brand recognition so when you go shopping and faced with the sea of choices you will pick the one you feel safest choosing, the one with the name you remember. What the heck does age have to do with it?
The earlier comment claiming supply and demand makes no sense. If a medium does not have the audience you pay more because they are rare. Wow, those same idiots must pay a fortune for newspaper space.
Demos have been with us since the sixties. Then it was urban over rural. As the baby boomers, the largest generation, grew into the 18-35 that demo meant the masses. It doesn't anymore. CANNON was cancelled in 1976 because its numbers were too old and too rural. This isn't a new problem but it used to make more sense than it does now.
Perhaps if the media realized there is no magical demo, that networks use various numbers to judge a series. That the most important number is one the networks will never share, how much money is the show making.

Bill said...

That was awesome. Mario, a Hall of Fame cameraman. From his movements you could tell he knew the game, even loved the game like a fan. And I didn't even mind Red Sox lost. Great game.

cd1515 said...

I totally think "old" people are being forgotten about by TV execs, which seems dumb to me because:
a) they have more money, and
b) the "young" people are watching TV less and less

Barry Traylor said...

I am sure that this question has been asked before but last night my wife asked me what a movie or tv producer does, I told her that they are mainly a coordinator. Was I correct? Or am I just full of hot air?

Johnny Walker said...

With regards to why under 35s are the prized demographic, I believe part of it is also because they are supposedly more frivolous with their money -- which is to say, they have more disposable income. Although those of us who are older tend to earn more, we're more likely to have mortgages, pensions, and kids.

I don't know if that's the general trend, but I certainly spend less on entertainment than I used to -- and I don't even have a mortgage or kids. Are others the same?

John said...

I found the clip much more fascinating before the outage. Off to Youtube to find more clips like that.

michael said...

Johnny Walker, you make a good point about the 18-35 having more disposable income. But what are the 36-49 doing there? The way I was taught the age demo works is 18-25 are making choices about brands. 26-35 have more disposable income (but aren't they now buried in debt for school loans). 35-49 are raising families. Over fifty are nearing retirement and watching their income and set in brand loyalty. Over 65 is retired and on fixed income.

There are demos for income, who has money to spend, that work better than generalizing age. I think there are some over 65 that are not on fixed income but rich (the fact we live longer is changing many of the old ideas about age).

My favorite point about the 18-49 all important no one else matters demo is (the last I read) the average age of TV viewer for the big four and a half (CW) was over 50. So the average viewer of television is older than the aimed demo. So either TV is doing terrible reaching its wanted audience or the baby boomers outnumber the younger generations by so much it tilts the average or the 18-49 are watching but in ways Nielsen can't find them. I think it is a little of all three and why advertisers and the big four and a half are taking more interest in mobile devices and the internet.

As streaming services from Netflix to CBS become more accepted the less ratings for advertisers will matter. There will always be ways to decide what show survives and what show doesn't but what those ways will be are unknown today. But I doubt it will involve keeping advertisers happy as opposed to the audience.

Andy Rose said...

The reason the young demos are prized is not because older folks aren't influenced at all by advertising or open to try new things. It's because research has shown time and time again that younger people require fewer "impressions" in order to have their behavior affected by marketing. The average 30 year old who is receptive to the message of a certain commercial might give a product a try after seeing the ad 3 times, while it might take 6 or 7 exposures for a similarly inclined 55 year old. So it's just more efficient to target younger demos, all other things being equal.

So why are younger viewers more impressionable? The truth is, nobody knows. People throw out ideas like they are more open to new things or have more disposable income, but it's all conjecture.

michael said...

Andy Rose, I agree about the 18-35. The 18-35 was the demo back before the American society began to grow older. I can't understand where the 36-49 fit in?
Did being impressionable suddenly attack the older adults?

You are right. The older we get the less we will try or like the new stuff. As we all are proving when we complain about the shows aimed at young people.

But what frustrates me is the idea that only one demo matters. CBS keeps BLUE BLOODS on for some reason and it is not the demo numbers. Dial soap for Men wants to reach young men and for every young woman they reach is a wasted ad dollar.

I believe TV programming decisions are more complex than the media claims when its too lazy to look beyond one simple too big to be useful demo.