TV Networks: I Cry Uncle!

Halt and Catch Fire, The Strain, The Lottery, The Last Ship, Falling Skies, The Musketeers

I know that many of you have noticed and commented on the plethora of programming – good programming – programming worth watching – currently available on TV. In fact, Sunday night is THE hot spot at the moment. I do not even subscribe to premium channels, which eliminates many great shows, and yet there are 7 programs I am currently trying to juggle on that night alone! The crime is that some of the other nights are near wastelands. I wish that the TV networks would spread out their good programs over the course of the week. Do you hear me TV networks? I am crying “Uncle!”

Timing Is Everything

Ben, Tom, Dan and Matt - Falling Skies

For all nights, but in particular Sunday night, not only do I keep a list of what programs I am watching, but each week I must check to see when they are on and how long they run, since the cable networks change the repeat schedule and vary the length of the episodes. For instance, The Last Ship and Falling Skies, both on TNT, have varied this season from 60 minutes to 63 minutes. That does not seem like a lot, until you miss the final minutes of a program where the denouement is revealed!

Repeats Rule!

The Last Ship Episode 4 We'll Get There (1)

Except for the repeats it would be impossible to see all the programs I watch, since I do not have a cable company provided DVR that records multiple programs at once. Instead, I have two old fashioned VCRs and a DVR that records only the channel to which the cable box is tuned. I am starting to see the benefit of the “record 20 channels at once” devices – that is starting to be the only way to properly manage viewing!

The Deadly Overlap

The Musketeers

But, to make it even more challenging, even though the cable networks repeat their shows, I am finding that frequently the repeats are up against other repeats I am trying to tape, or even up against first run programs on other nights. For instance, Manhattan on WGN, Falling Skies on TNT and The Musketeers on BBC America all show repeats in the 12 am Monday timeframe, plus or minus up to 45 minutes which creates overlap. Plus, sometimes I would need to be up at an impossible hour to change the channel because another show ran until 2 am and the next repeat starts at 3 am!

Be Very, Very Careful…

The Strain Episode 2 The Box (7)

So, I was going to do title of this section as “Be Wery, Wery Careful” but was not sure how many readers would identify Elmer Fudd, so opted for the safer option. Anyway, another complication is that in the same week when they are showing a new episode, they will sometimes also run a repeat of the previous episode. Don’t get me wrong, that is actually a good thing because it gives you another opportunity to catch a program you might otherwise have missed, but it can be confusing and cause mistakes. For instance, I taped episode 1 of The Strain by mistake when it was sandwiched between 2 showings of episode 2! Luckily I discovered my mistake quickly enough to find another airing of the second episode so I did not miss anything.

Check and Double Check the Channel

" THE LOTTERY "Photo by Philippe Bosse

Then there is the issue of networks that are under the same parent company, so not only is it necessary to check the time of a repeat, but also what channel it will be on for that repeat. The Lottery is shown on Lifetime, but also repeats on Lifetime Movie Network. Just this past week, I have dropped two programs from my list because it became impossible to record them due to counter programming, time placement or channel placement.

Advertising Revenue?

Halt and Catch Fire (AMC) Episode 1 I/O (7)

I understand the concept of competition. Here is what I don’t understand. TV networks rely on advertising dollars to fund their operations. If people are not watching their program, then that is bad – the ratings go down, the advertising revenue dries up, and the program gets canceled, not necessarily in that order. Would it not be better to put some of the good programs on a different night when there is less competition, so that the program and its advertising could reach a wider audience? This seems like a win-win situation to me. TV networks, are you listening?


How complicated is your viewing schedule? Are you experiencing the same issues I have noted above? Let me know your thoughts in the comments section below!