Candleblog

The online journal of Vermont filmmaker, Bill Simmon.

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Off with its head!

Posted on Apr 26, 2009 by billsimmon in annoying, TV | 0 Comments

My favorite new TV show this year is really getting beaten up by NBC. Originally intended to be the replacement for the departing ER on Thursday nights, the network moved Kings’ time slot to Sundays between Dateline and Celebrity Apprentice even before the pilot aired. A few weeks later, worried that the low (in the 3 millions) viewership would hurt Donald Trump’s ability to keep an audience, NBC moved the speculative fiction drama to the worse-than-Fridays death slot of Saturday nights. Two episodes aired on Saturdays and now they have stopped playing the episodes altogether, with a promise that the remaining seven unaired episodes will begin airing on Saturdays in June.

This is feeling an awful lot like what happened to my favorite new show from last year, Journeyman. That got scrapped midway through too, never to be heard from again.

The network model is broken. The number of viewers required to keep a show like Kings on the air is absurdly huge given the fact that only about 15% of American TV viewers get their TV exclusively over-the-air (as opposed to via cable, satellite or some other means — a number that’s likely to shrink when the DTV switchover finally really happens). That 15% of network-only viewers doesn’t match the enormous disparity between network and cable channel advertising prices and viewership expectations. 3.5 million viewers is huge on cable and orders of magnitude larger than the download numbers of the most popular TV shows on iTunes. Something’s got to give. Is network TV going to be nothing but Leno and reality TV in a few seasons?

You can still see the first several episodes of Kings at nbc.com. Catch them while you can.

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