It seems that most of the big water cooler television shows are taking place on cable channels these days and it’s becoming harder for shows to survive on network television. I would like to take a network and rebuild in a baseball rebuilding way. This makes no sense right now, but it will, I promise.
Rebuilding can take a couple of years, but the payoff will be a perennial contender (for the playoffs) for the highest ratings. If I were in charge…
1. The first thing I would tackle is to rebuild the trust of the audience. Much of this idea is taken form an earlier post of mine, https://thehollywoodrant.wordpress.com/2013/03/15/tv-shows-trust/
Investing time in a show, especially a serialized show, that gets cancelled at some point during or after the season, leaves all the viewers with an unresolved cliffhanger. Repeated infractions like this has destroyed my trust. I’m to the point that I won’t even watch a new show until I know it’s successful and will return for a second season. To rebuild the trust, I will promise the audience a 1 or 2 hour movie to wrap up the hanging plot threads of all cancelled shows.
2. Many AMC, cable-type shows divide their seasons in half. While this does give us a long break in the middle that we might not want, it gives us fewer reruns. Some shows even go straight through the half season with no reruns. This is great for me because reruns ruin the momentum of a show. Having a mid-season finale and a mid-season premier gives the viewer more “holy shit” episodes per season. So here I would put all shows on this format and have no in-season reruns.
3. Instead of in-season reruns, I would build in four live episodes. These would be placed one week before the season premier, mid-season premier, and 1 to 3 episodes before the season and mid-season finale. These episodes will be like the Talking Dead. Almost a complete ripoff. There will be a live audience and a panel of actors from the show, as well as a host. They will recap what has happened so far, answer questions from callers and the audience as well as tease what is to come. There will be behind-the-scenes information, stories, and clips. This will give current viewers something more exciting than a rerun as well as bring newer viewers up to speed.
4. Fear the Walking Dead bridges the gap between seasons of Walking Dead. More of this! Obviously this can’t be done for every show, or even a few of them, but doing it for the network’s biggest shows (1 or 2 max) is a good idea.
5. Finally, the reason this should compare with a baseball team’s rebuild: patience. Give a few years to slowly build back that audience. Look at the Chicago Cubs, whose rebuild began four years before their Wold Series Championship. You have to allow time for the audience’s trust to grow. Allow the good ideas to build an audience, and give them more seasons.Don’t be so quick to cancel a show that shows promise. Give shows like this a bit more time to grow. Even Seinfeld wasn’t a big hit in its first season. The Grinder was a good idea, and a funny, unique sitcom. There was a cult audience out there that loved this show. It was not the next Seinfeld, but it could’ve definitely grown bigger.