TV reruns all the time..

Back in the good old days, I remember when the TV schedule was different, first they showed all the new episodes, and then they showed them again as reruns. And we LIKED it!
But nowadays, I notice that the most popular TV shows (i.e. ER) default to reruns all the time, they run special announcements when they have a new episode.
What the hell is happening here? Why is this? Is it hard to get stars to sit down long enough to commit to a regular shooting schedule? Or are they deliberately trying to make the inter-show plotline as hard to follow as possible? When did this practice become widespread?

It’s all about the Benjamins, Chas.

These days a production company such as Warner Brothers (which produces ER) may command as much as $13 million per episode. NBC only has so much money to go around on original programming, so they buy as many episodes as they can afford. Needless to say, the amount of episodes of any one show a network can afford to buy is quite a bit smaller these days. Hence, more re-runs and fewer original episodes.

Some networks are slowly embracing the “Less is More” philosophy, which means they supplement their schedule with (relatively) cheap programs. Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?, Whose Line is it Anyway?, and Survivor are all shows that are (relatviely) cheap to make but bring in bundles of money.

Also, the networks save the new episodes for the ratings “sweeps” months - November, February, and May (is there another?). These months are when the “specials” and “blockbuster mini-series” are trotted out. Thus, loading up the times when ad rates are set for the rest of the year with atypical programming.

In general, the number of new episodes in a season hasn’t changed. It’s just when they show them.

The problem was simple. NBC showed all their new episodes in a row, then reshowed them as reruns, in order. CBS, FOX and ABC did the same thing. Viewers who didn’t like reruns would watch the show on NBC while it was new. Then when it ran out of new episodes, they would switch to watching a show on one of the other networks. That other show might have been reruns too, but the viewer hadn’t seen them, so they didn’t care. They might even like it enough that when the new season comes around, they would watch the non-NBC show first, then watch the NBC show in reruns. This didn’t please Network NBC.

So NBC mixes up the new episodes and the reruns. This makes it very hard for the viewers to switch to any other series. They won’t see it in order, like they would before, so they won’t get hooked. So they end up watching the reruns on NBC and NBC is happy. And even if they don’t watch the reruns, they aren’t watching any other series, so there’s no chance they’ll defect.

I agree that the number of new episodes has not changed significantly for a while.

However, SmackFu, I think there is more to it than trying to keep viewers from going to other shows.

Keep in mind that I Am Not A Network Affiliate. but…

New episodes always have a larger audience than reruns. It is possible that the networks want to regularly space out the advertising revenues they get from a show, and thus the random mix of reruns and new shows. It is also possible that the advertisers asked for this distribution so they could have a more constant audience for their ads.

Correct but incomplete. When shows went to 22 episodes a year (some do a few more like the Simpsons do 24 which include hold overs or clip shows) it used to be new season end of Sept. Reruns around Christmas and then new shows till Easter a few more reruns then two more new ones in May.

Now the sweeps months came in and a new trick was tried. As mentioned save new for sweeps.

But for the last two years Nielson’s new technology allows accurate recording of ratings year round making sweeps invalid. TV and Broadcasting Magazine reports that they aren’t even used much anymore to set rates.

To further make it worse. Both NBC and Fox have said the “WINNER” of ratings is the one who gets the 25-39 (or whatever it is) age group. Since they are the only real buyers everything else is irrelevant.

So CBS, which has a habit of getting the most views declares themselves the winner the other networks laughed. HA HA you won but no one who counts is watching your shows.

So CBS shows SURVIVOR and boom now is Number 1 with that 25-39 age group and now FOX and NBC are crying another tune.

ABC which is owned by the powerful Disney people could care less about much of anything.

To further complicate this…

Comedies are once again dying…As in the early 80s (in 84 only one show KATE AND ALLIE) was in the top 10. To date only EVERYBODY LOVES RAYMOND and FRIENDS are top 10 hits.

Hour long shows do awful in syndication so they have little rerun value after they leave the network. So excpect to see it get worse.

[Aside: THE SIMPSONS usally hold one show from the previous season and show it in August as new. Since THE SIMPSONS is one of FOX’s flagship and strong shows, it is used to boost premiers. Fox runs their new show a bit early to get a jump on the “REAL” networks. So last year people got upset because they saw a new SIMPSONS in Aug but no new shows till November. But in reality the AUG “NEW” show was a hold over from the previous season.]

Now I’m off to get a life…:slight_smile:

I absolutely hate it when I have set aside the time to watch one of my favorite shows, for example, Judging Amy, and it is a rerun. On Judging Amy last week the dead dog was again alive, the new mother was again pregnant, and the adoptive parents hadn’t gone through hell yet. I just can’t get into it, and I watch something else or just turn the TV off. I was thinking last night that it would be nice if you could know ahead of time that the show is a rerun, with a code or something.

Maybe I’m missing something, but… a couple of fellow posters have asserted that the number of new episodes (per season, I assume) has not changed.

Huh? Since when? In the last decade or two, maybe not, but even as a relatively young man (37), even I can remember (or was alive at) a time when there were over 30 episodes of any given show per season. I actually did a search for facts for a question posed by a poster on the show “Petticoat Junction,” and discovered that its first season (1963-64), IIRC, was 38 episodes long, with the second season being 34 or thereabouts.

Again, maybe the comments were made regarding season length in more modern times.


suziek –

You’re kidding, right? When you look in the TV listings, you sometimes see that little “®” symbol? That means “rerun.” The Yahoo! TV listings use that code as well.

As a follower of several TV shows with intricate, season-long plots, I find the current staggered rerun schedule helpful. If I miss an episode early in the season, I don’t have to wait six months to see it, but only two.

Here’s another theory: prime-time TV being the high-stakes game that it is, perhaps networks are hedging their bets. Instead of ordering a full season (26 episodes) or a half-season (13) (and those are the numbers I learned when studying communications in the early '80s. You’re mileage may vary), networks order fewer shows. So, if a show tanks, they’re not stuck paying for a whole bunch of episodes they’ll never air. The down side is, if the show is popular, they have only a handful of shows ready to air (perhaps half a dozen), and must rerun those while the production company scrambles to crank out more.

The new system also seems to allow more room for “mid-season replacements”, a term that’s not really descriptive anymore since there’s no true “mid-season”, but anyway. Say a network has a show that’s okay, but they don’t think it’ll pull in ratings big enough to justify a big fall premiere. Formerly, the network would see what fall shows tank and replace it in the middle of the season by pulling one of these lesser programs off the shelf. Now, with typically only 6 new episodes of a given show at a stretch, a replacement can be inserted just about any time.

Well, why are certain shows new almost every single week? For example, “That 70’s Show” and “Titus” don’t have as many reruns as “Ally McBeal” or “Friends”, and they started earlier too. Is that just because FOX wants as many viewers as possible for their new(er) programs?