It's become a ritual. Every spring, I'm forced to say good-bye to welcome visitors who've graced my home and provided me with fascinating company week after week. Yup, I'm talking about my favorite TV series that somehow find themselves on the chopping block even though millions of viewers across the country enjoy them as much as I do. I'm still missing Human Target, Flash Forward, Traveler, Bleep My Dad Says, and The Good Guys, and now I'll have to light several more candles for Harry's Law, A Gifted Man, and Awake. Even the venerable CSIs, some good for a shiver, some for a chuckle, are on the "bubble." All with audiences in the gazillions.
It's gotten so bad, I'm seriously thinking of not watching a new TV series until I'm sure it's a real hit. I can always catch up on past episodes once a series is established (I'm already up to Season 3 of Lost on Amazon Instant Video), but this "contactus interruptus" of cancellations in shows with which I've bonded is just getting too painful. Even worse, when the hammer drops without an opportunity for a series to properly wrap up its story arcs and unanswered questions, the viewers are left without appropriate closure -- would you start reading a book if you knew its last chapter was missing forever?
Oh, sorry, I forgot. Books are passé. Even the word passé is passé. As a mother of teens in the coveted 18-34 demographic, I've gotten quite an earful about my membership in the Jurassic generation. Bad enough to get it from your kids, but it's horrible to hear it from entertainment "Powers That Be" when they cancel shows that "skew old." Okay, so I'm just a skosh older than 49 myself, but I have more resources to spend on advertisers than my young 'uns. And more time to watch TV, including ads, and to shop -- because I'm not doing homework, studying for the SAT, going to track practice, or, social media-ing with my BFF, dig? (Yes, I know it is, but the word fits.)
I've got nothing against the young -- except profound envy that their long lives are ahead of them. But, what's wrong with targeting my demographic and marketing to us? The old saw that "old saws" aren't pliable isn't true -- give us Boomers credit for being just as manipulable by capitalist wares as Generation Y. We'll spend money on your advertisers, honest. Just don't make all the ads adult diapers and erectile dysfunction meds--we're 34 in our hearts and will never admit to using them.
Listen, execs, in an economy where no one can afford to retire, we're still the economic drivers of this country. Just ask our Boomerang kids, who leave the big screen TV to us old fogeys, as they opt for interactive media behind the locked doors of their basement apartments. Without us, TV numbers would continue to erode -- and so would your advertising revenue.
But that does give me an idea. Maybe the internet media model is something we should emulate for network TV. I've given up on going to the movies anymore, as slapstick films about hangovers and ear-blasting superhero adventures aren't at the top of my "how can we spend $40 in two hours" list. But, I'd willingly spend a few dollars a week to see new episodes of some of my favorite shows, especially without commercials. I'd even fork over the price of a movie (in my teens), to see a new episode of Human Target. Add up millions of us paying a couple of dollars per show a week a la iTunes, and the economics of TV production might shift in our favor for some of our favorite shows facing the cancellation cliff.
Sure, free TV is better than nothing. But, those 200 satellite channels often seem like nothing when every new show is aimed at the under-30 crowd. I bet if the execs offered shows popular to us 49+ers for a dollar an episode, we'd bite, and keep their profit margins adequate. We'd even buy season passes for our "Faves and Raves." Bottom line, to help your bottom line, take a page from "the kids" and change your dissemination model -- and give all of us the chance to enjoy entertainment no matter what our age or tastes.
And if the network execs balk, maybe producers of cancelled or bubble shows could take up the cause -- solicit patronage from your shows patrons to keep your shows "subscribed," at least long enough to write their final chapters. That would be, in a word, awesome.
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