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Niche Shows on TV Majors Struggle to Survive

Each year we see it. Television shows fighting to stay on the major channels. Usually these are smart shows with devoted followings, but to the majors the squarely fall within niche programming.

Would Chuck be stuggling if it were on SyFy? (And let’s face it, the production values are lock step with their programming. An episode of BSG looks like the entire action & effects budget of Chuck.) How about Reaper? (Ditto on the production values.) Would The Unit be sweating it if it was on FX, Spike or USA?

No, and that’s the point. The audience is fragmented beyond recapturing. Cable offers more directed programming and the Internet is quickly becoming the to go place to catch your favorite shows without changing channels and with a minimum of interuptions. Numbers are down for the majors and they’re looking for ways to to reconfigure the ROI to reflect that and still look good. (Hence 5-night a week Jay Leno at 9/10pm.)

The majors always build up ones hopes by greenlighting niche programs. They want that bunch of desertees to come back. But their profit margins are too high for these kind of shows. So, they usually die too soon and take our hopes of good television with them.

That’s why the majors should just give up this kind of programming and leave it to the Cable channels where the numbers are more attainable for that kind of fare. So load up on ‘reality’ TV, more Law & Order (Unless the Belz & Ice-T get their own show. Then I’m there.) and by all means load up on Leno. The rest of us will be watching elsewhere.

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