TV shows like 30 Rock, The Office, Modern Family etc have all come to an end for the summer and will kick off again in September. The break is a well established system for sitcoms and drama series. It gives the actors a chance to have a break and the writers a chance to create new material during the months where viewers spend less time in front of their TVs and more time outdoors. For those still glued to their screeens there’s plenty of reruns to keep them happy. At least that’s the theory. But with more and more people spending time online versus sitting in front of their TVs and with more people using their smartphones as a means of accessing the internet, there is a real danger that during this summer hiatus, viewers will find more reasons to avoid their TVs and unlike migratory birds, not return. After all, Facebook and Twitter don’t show rerun updates and tweets over the summer. Can you imagine of they did?
For this reason I wonder whether the networks need to rethink the summer hiatus. I can see it being tough to change and it brings with it a fresh set of challenges. One of the benefits of having short seasons and breaks is that low quality content and production values get the boot. We’ve all noticed when a show runs out of ideas – Happy Days, invented the expression ‘Jumping the shark’ which means a show has taken things too far and lost the plot, when it had the Fonzie, literally jump a shark on water skis. We can also tell when actors tire of a role. So perhaps there is a role for the break. Perhaps the formula is what needs a rethink. Instead of putting all the best shows in the Spring and Fall, they could experiment by putting some of the stronger shows during the summer to keep the eyeballs on the TV and off their computer screens. After all, I’ll say it again, can you imagine if Facebook and Twitter took a summer break? Bring on the re-retweet. Not.
NBC reportedly paid a $1 Billion for the rights to show the Olympics in the US. I guess when you have paid that much you don’t want people to feel like they are watching a re-run and instead want them to feel they are watching it as it happens. Sadly, given the time difference with Beijing, this means many of the events would drop out of prime time if shown live. NBC’s answer is to say the event is live, as they did with Phelps 200m butterfly event, even though the event happened hours ago and you can easily find out who won by surfing the web. Indeed by the time Phelps dived into the pool for the 200m race on NBC, he was already warming up for his next race, a team relay (which he also won). Given how good the NBC.com coverage of the Olympics is, I know they are web savvy. So why don’t they just admit that their coverage isn’t really live or at the very least not try and pretend it is? As it is I now find myself checking bbc.co.uk in the evenings to see the results of things that NBC keeps saying is ‘coming up live in the next hour.’ Come on NBC. In a world where people use the Internet as much as they do their TV you really need a better solution than to try and pretend your coverage is live.