I'm still upset that Pushing Daisies never survived. (Even though apparently they're finally running the last three episodes, starting at the end of May, albeit on the television dead zone of Saturday night.) So I was interested to read Tim Goodman's take on what network television is doing wrong. A couple of major points:
"Keep shows on the air. Pay attention, because here's the thing that bites you in the hind parts every season: If you air a series Wednesday at 9 p.m. for five weeks, then take it off the schedule for two months without explaining why, then bring it back for the last eight episodes, you will have lost all of your momentum and all of your hope."
This is a huge one. And Pushing Daisies is a perfect example of this. When the writers' strike happened, Pushing Daisies went MIA until the next season--not reruns, even. And the marketing was terrible, so people kind of forgot about it. Viewers don't want try to remember what happened last episode because it was so long ago. They want a more consistent run.
"Have patience. The decision-making process can't merely be about overnight ratings and cost-benefit analysis. Sometimes it takes time to launch a show (especially if you're employing the shell game or flooding the market). Networks have far quicker triggers than in years past - and look what it's done for them. Time to rethink conventional network wisdom when it comes to growing a good show."
Another major problem. Sometimes it takes viewers a while to catch on, especially if your marketing sucks. (Seriously, why so many commercials for Cavemen?) The Office wasn't a hit right out of the gate. Buffy, either. And where would I be without those shows?
Goodman also mentions the importance of having a good show website, with episodes online. I would also add that you need to have a full season online. I used to watch Grey's Anatomy, but since they only run the most recent episodes online and I've missed a few this season, I've just given up. (Also, it's gotten kind of lame.) I know networks don't want to just have episodes available all the time, but it helps bring in new viewers and keep old viewers. I don't even mind the commercials. I just want to catch up on shows when it's convenient for me.
ABC/NBC/CBS, are you listening?