View Full Version : USA Today: Reality: Scripted shows give cable an edge

August 3rd, 2004, 10:40 PM
From USA Today:



Updated 8/4/2004 12:41 AM

Reality: Scripted shows give cable an edge

By Gary Levin, USA TODAY

Cable networks' summer bet on scripted dramas — once the exclusive province of their broadcast rivals — is paying off big.

Many have won fan buzz, critical acclaim, Emmy nominations and, most important, viewership that nearly matches fare on the larger networks. With their help, basic cable is drawing an average 49.8 million viewers in prime time, up 10% from last year; 30.5 million are tuned in to the six broadcast networks, down 8%.

The warm-weather months were supposed to herald a push toward "year-round" programming by the networks, which no longer could afford to relax in a sea of repeats. But Fox has mostly stumbled with scripted series, leaning on reality entries The Simple Life and Trading Spouses to prop up summer. NBC is down 14% from last year, suffering through record-low ratings for top shows, including Friends and ER. And CBS is winning, mostly with those supposed turn-off repeats.

Meanwhile, consider the summer cable landscape:

• FX's plastic-surgery series Nip/Tuck on Tuesdays (averaging 3.4 million viewers) and firehouse drama Rescue Me Wednesdays (3.5 million) are both hailed by critics for unconventional treatment of flawed characters. (Related story: Cable series thrive in less restrictive climate)

• USA has three series scoring big cable numbers: Monk (4.9 million), Friday's quirky detective dramedy; and on Sundays, The 4400 (6.5 million), a limited-run drama, ending this weekend, about a crowd of missing people who suddenly reappear all at once, and The Dead Zone (3.2 million), a spinoff of the Stephen King novel.

• Sci Fi has seen its best ratings yet for Friday's Stargate: SG-1 (2.9 million) and Stargate: Atlantis (3.7 million), part of the long-running franchise.

• And TNT's terror-tinged The Grid (ending Monday) has won solid ratings (3.9 million) for its own limited run.

The track record is spurring cable networks to become more ambitious with scripted series — which helps "brand" them in the minds of viewers and advertisers. And they're even diverting attention normally reserved for HBO, which usually eclipses its basic-cable rivals even though its subscriber base is one-third their size.

"We've come of age," says USA and Sci Fi president Bonnie Hammer. Compared with past efforts, "they're better series, and we're going against primarily reality series (on major networks). The audience still wants good drama."




Richard Dean Anderson Fans

August 4th, 2004, 08:03 AM
Yea, I'm so sick of Reality TV. I want to puke.

I love SG1/SGA on Fridays. Nip/Tuck Tuesdays, and ST:E Wednesday. Thats about as much TV as I would like to watch.

But I have to say, there is one Reality TV show I love, thats the Apprentice. That show is awesome. And when it returns in the fall, it will be placed back at the 9 pm slot, and then at 10 its Nip/Tuck! WOOO WOOO!

Yu Huang Shang Ti
August 8th, 2004, 01:06 AM
You got that right, I've hated reality TV since it started. But that's a rant for another board.

I'm glad that cable is picking up where networks are slacking off in the scripted series area, because they can really go balls-to-the-wall in the less restrictive environment. nip/tuck may be the best thing I've seen on cable since Farscape was cancelled (the Stargates notwithstanding).

Daniel Jackson
August 8th, 2004, 12:58 PM
My TV viewing consists of Enterprise, SG-1, Atlantis, The Jeffersons, and the news, so reallity TV doesn't really bother me unless it pre-empts Enterprise. :mad: I still think reallity TV is stupid though. :D

August 8th, 2004, 01:32 PM
The moron who decided that Reality TV should take over should be shot.....

Daniel Jackson
August 8th, 2004, 08:41 PM
Thas a little harsh. Place him in those old wooden cuff things in the middle of Hollywood for a month. After everyone's done with him, he'll wish he went to prison instead. lol