Everything you'd need to know about American Television
September 19, 2003 4:07 PM   Subscribe

Everything you'd need to know about American Television (almost), including why certain episodes in a season suddenly feature a really exciting plotline, a crossover with another show or a movie star and why that period is called sweeps. Comforting to know that it isn't just in the UK that no one is watching TV on a Saturday night. [via tvtattle]
posted by feelinglistless (6 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Here's a better explanation of how TV Ratings Sweeps in the U.S. work. It's not quite as interesting as an essay published in a February issue of The New Yorker I recently read in a doctor's waiting room, but that story is not online, and this one contains the same main point:

That’s just the way the system works, says Nielsen official Jack Loftus. “Is it bizarre? Of course.”
Can the system be fixed? Not without spending more money than anyone wants to.

posted by wendell at 5:26 PM on September 19, 2003

That's interesting. I would have thought Friday was the least-watched night of TV, not Saturday.
posted by SisterHavana at 6:24 PM on September 19, 2003

Everything I needed to know about television? I learned that by the time I was three - TV is crap. So I don't watch it.
posted by troutfishing at 6:53 AM on September 20, 2003

oooooooh, burn.
posted by jimmy at 2:04 PM on September 20, 2003

There's a difference between Labor day and Memorial day?Why didn't somebody tell me? Here I thought one worthless excuse for a holiday was the same as any other.
posted by ZachsMind at 4:48 PM on September 20, 2003

in today's NYT (reg. required, bla blah blah) there's a great profile of Law And Order's creator Dick Wolf (who sounds like a terribly venal, cynical Hollywood studio character more obsessed by the bottom line than quality, but he managed to create an awesome show anyway)

Wolf came up with what became the concept for ''Law and Order'' in 1988, when he was working on ''Miami Vice,'' and he did it to solve a particular business problem -- how to generate more revenue from reruns, which is how people who create shows (as opposed to those who broadcast them) make their money. ''Back then,'' he explains, ''we couldn't give away our shows in syndication. There was no syndication of hourlong shows; the only thing people wanted was half-hours.'' So with the encouragement of Kerry McCluggage, then the head of Universal Television, he set about coming up with an hourlong show that could be split apart into stand-alone half-hours: a cop show and a lawyer show. By the time ''Law and Order'' actually got into production, the resistance to syndicated hourlong programs had disappeared, and Wolf says now that it was just as well, because there was a fundamental problem with the pull-apart scheme. ''Monday-Tuesday, fine. Wednesday-Thursday, fine. But then Friday-Monday? There was kind of an essential flaw in the math, which I never told anyone about.''

posted by matteo at 2:05 AM on September 21, 2003

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