I get it, truly! As my son was told by his high school TV Production teacher, TV is Show “Business.” The networks are not in it for the fun and artistry, but rather for the money. Since I am not a business woman, I agree that I am perhaps not the most qualified person to comment on any business decisions made by networks.
But, I am a TV viewer, and I certainly feel qualified to comment on how those business decisions affect me. Once a show has aired, then I really see no reason for a network to not put it up on their website for fans to view for free. Please understand that I am not talking about premium channels, like for instance HBO, although how awesome would it be to be able to see Game of Thrones without waiting a *YEAR* for the DVDs to be put on sale? But, I digress…
I still use VHS tapes to record programs. Most other folks use DVRs, but no matter which technology you use, things occasionally go wrong. Older technology, like my VCR, depends on my not making an error, like my latest, not rewinding the tape I was using. But, my friends that have DVRs tell me that sometimes the internal schedule is not correct, and the wrong show is recorded, or in cases when the network decides to make the show a minute or two longer than normal, it cuts off the end.
But, no matter what the reason, the frustration felt by the viewer is palpable. When we make the effort to record a show, and then try to watch the recording, only to find out it is not there or missing a part, well, it makes you want to pound sand! I have yet to get over the fact I messed up the taping of the Chuck finale – and that NBC has not put it on their website.
Not all TV shows succeed. That is a given. However, exactly what spells the difference between shows that make it, and ones that don’t is not always clear – at least to the viewers. And, based on some recent examples, putting remaining episodes on the network website could help mitigate the strongly negative feelings after a network cancels a program mid-season.
Let me give two examples to illustrate my point. During the summer of 2012, NBC carried a program called Saving Hope. While that show is very popular in Canada, and will be airing a second season there, NBC has canceled it. In fact, they pulled it from their schedule without airing the final two episodes of season one. By doing that, they left the viewers hanging. One could argue that since they were not planning to air the second season, it did not matter, but to a faithful viewer, it does! NBC then made a good decision, from my point of view, and put those last two episodes of season one on their website, so that the fans who wanted to could watch them.
For a counter example, let’s look at the recently canceled program, 666 Park Avenue. In late December, it was announced that ABC had not only canceled the show, but they would not be airing the remaining episodes. If you have been watching this show, then you are likely feeling betrayed, after becoming invested in the show, only to have it yanked with no closure. To date, ABC has not said if they will put the remaining episodes on their website, but have intimated that they will possibly air them during the summer repeat season. I hope that they go with one of those two options, because based on viewer comments, they are creating a lot of anger thus far due to their decision. For those holding out for a summer viewing, there is always the possibility that ABC could change their mind on that too, and pull the episodes from the summer schedule as easily as they canceled the program altogether.
Since we are talking about a business, certainly the good will of the customers, aka viewers, is important! Many people get very upset, and threaten to stop watching all programs on certain networks, or shift to other networks. Certainly the powers that be at the various networks must be aware of this, and mindful of the animosity generated due to their decisions? Putting the episodes on their website would generate goodwill.
Back in the good old days, aka when I was a child, TV seasons started in the fall, and ran until spring, with a summer break of reruns. The major broadcast networks mostly stick to that schedule still, but cable networks start and stop their seasons at seemingly random times. And broadcast networks take breaks for award shows, political speeches and sports.
These long hiatuses lead to the viewer forgetting what has happened previously, or worse yet, a viewer missing the start of a new partial season! Yes, some networks run marathons just before a return from hiatus, but typically the major broadcast networks do not. TV networks putting episodes on their websites would help viewers refresh their memories, thus making it more likely they will continue watching a program!
Having episodes on the website will certainly not make me less likely to buy the DVD set. In fact, being able to view the show first, and this includes *all* the episodes, will help me decide if I want to buy the DVDs. Watching an episode of a program on a network website is not ideal for me, since my computer monitor is not very large, and I have to sit in one place to watch it. So while it is helpful for me to be able to watch on a website occasionally, I do not prefer it.
Contrast that with watching a DVD, and there is really no contest. I can watch a DVD while I do other things such as eat a meal. The viewing options are far greater with a DVD. And, if I really like a program, watching it once is never enough. So, putting the episodes on the websites will not decrease DVD sales, but have the potential to increase them.
So, those are my reasons, and I certainly hope that TV networks will pay attention to what their viewers think! Do you have any additional reasons or a comment on my reasons? I would love to hear from you in the comment section below!