Tag Archives: Television Programming

From First Kiss To First Kid: ABC Family Goes Freeform

On January 12, 2016, ABC Family officially became Freeform. This change came as quite the shock to some, and normally when a network is rebranding, it is because they are failing. But, this was not the case. Despite the rebranding and change of unmistakable name, that was announced early October of 2015, the same television shows would be aired. They will even keep their 25 Days of Christmas, Harry Potter Marathons, and Disney movie showings. Apparently this evolution of the network had been in the works for 10-12 years, according to network President, Tom Asheim, and the only thing left was to drop the name that the network had outgrown.

Free Form

So the big question is why change? ABC Family’s viewing demographic was changing and the main audience attracted was no longer those looking for the family-friendly show that the network had been so well known for. Over the past decade, the shows had been beginning to shift towards more teen and young adult content, which is part of the evolution that had been going on mentioned earlier. ABC Family decided to capitalize on the large group of millennials that make up a large part of television viewers in the country. The network’s core audience is viewers ages 14-34, which is an approximated 69 million people target audience. Can you say “Cha-ching”?

When rebranding, the network wanted to follow this huge market and keep up with the millennials as they grow older. They wanted for the network to move past this traditional family viewing and towards its target market of “Becomers”. These “Becomers” are people ages high school to thirty’s, who are asking themselves “Who am I becoming?” They decided to coin this stage of life the “Becoming” stage and those going through it “Becomers”. It is important for them to reiterate that this is a stage of life and not a generation, because they want to follow their viewers from their “first kiss” to their “first kid”.

The network had three main goals for the new name. They, first, wanted to really promote this idea if “Becomers” and the stage of life represented with Freeform. Second, they needed to capitalize on the crossing over and overlap from multiple platforms such as the many social media sites that content is discussed on or the multiple mediums and devices that viewers can use to access and watch Freeform content. The last goal for them was to really make the viewers feel something, and hopefully they would make them feel something positive, such as spark this feeling of “Be you”, “Be Bold”, “Find Yourself”, and so on. This really dives into the meaning behind the word “Freeform” and having no boundaries and making life your own.

Free Form2Of course, the biggest issue for the network was going to be brand awareness. For such a recognizable name to be changed to something completely new and unrelated is a big risk. They jumped on top of the marketing campaign right after the announcement in October and ran promotional ads heavily until January 12, especially through the 25 Days of Christmas that attracts a lot of viewers. They also pushed the social channels really hard with a hashtag to connect with millennials and a Gorilla marketing campaign that used fans’ user generated content the promote the name change for them. People are more involved than just watching the shows they love, they immerse themselves in the atmosphere and community of fans of the show through social media and networking sites by sharing opinions and favorites about the show. The fans were able to describe what the word “Freeform” meant to them to help express the representation behind the new name and what it stands for. One thing they really had to stress to people was that the stuff they loved on ABC Family would still be there. And so far, it looks like the transition has been very successful and well received by viewers.

Free Form3The last thing I found very interesting about the change is to look back and see exactly how much the channel has changed even over just the past ten years. This promo video from 2006 really promotes the family oriented shows and the feelings the occur in the shows, some of which in the video shown are Lincoln Heights, Wildfire, Beautiful People, Gilmore Girls, Fallen, and Kyle XY. This promo video previewing what Freeform will be showing in 2016 focuses more on independence and young adult storylines. Some of the shows in this video are Shadowhunters, The Fosters, Baby Daddy, Recovery Road, Young and Hungry and Pretty Little Liars. The content of the shows and the storylines have indeed evolved over the years as their core audience has changed. The shift is not something that will stop the network, because they will continue to roll with the punches, go with the flow, or you know…be #Freeform.

Ali Holtz

The Bryan Fuller Curse: Why Bad Things Happen to Good TV Shows

Bryan Fuller is a television writer, producer and showrunner. He has a prolific history of creating and developing critically-acclaimed, award winning television shows that have devoted, adoring fanbases. All of his shows have also all been unceremoniously cancelled. All but one before they could reach a third season.

This sad story is nothing new. We have all had a beloved television show in the past that got axed too soon, but why does this happen? Why do shows that have so much promise often underperform?

For each of Fuller’s cancelled projects, there is a pretty concrete reason we can point to: low ratings. It’s why most shows end up getting canned, but is it always because the show just isn’t any good? In Fuller’s case, and undoubtedly many others’, there is much more at play.

Pushing Daisies

Pushing Daisies, arguably Fuller’s most successful show, was cancelled by ABC after just two seasons. During its short life the show managed to earn 57 award nominations and 18 wins, 7 of those being Primetime Emmy Awards. It premiered to an audience of almost 13 million people, becoming the most watched series of that week.
It seemed like smooth sailing for Pushing Daisies until the writer’s strike of 2007-08. The Strike forced the first season to be cut short, going from an intended 22 episodes to just 9 episodes in the first season. Ratings were a fraction of first season numbers by the time the second season premiered, and the show was cancelled after only 6 of its 13 episodes.

Fuller’s most recent (and most recently cancelled) project, Hannibal performed fairly well in the ratings for most of its three seasons. There had been a pretty steady decline over the course of the third season, which was the reason cited by NBC as to why the series was axed. It was also thought that the network was looking to avoid potential rights issues in planned upcoming seasons. Apparently Fuller wanted to introduce the character of Clarice Starling, played by Jodie Foster in The Silence of the Lambs, but the rights to that character are currently unavailable.

Hannibal
Despite the wreckage of cancelled shows in his wake, Bryan Fuller seems to have no problem getting work. He has been developing an adaptation of a Neil Gaiman novel American Gods which just got picked up by Starz, where he will serve as showrunner. Fresh off cancelling Hannibal, NBC has decided to keep working with Fuller, bringing him on as a writer and executive producer for their remake of Steven Spielberg’s sci-fi series, Amazing Stories. So if all of his past projects have been cancelled, why do networks still want to work with him?

First, as we saw before, shows get cancelled for reasons other than just low ratings, and low ratings can be caused by a multitude of things potentially out of the creator’s control. Networks know this. They also know that Fuller’s programming is consistently loved by critics. It’s possible that the wider public isn’t responding to his programming because of it’s dark nature. All of the shows Fuller has created thus far have had to do with death and other macabre themes, which might turn off some potential viewers, so there seems to be a need to present his ideas in a way that is pleasing to a wider audience. Fuller already has a very passionate fanbase. They even voted Pushing Daisies the winner of Esquire’s “TV Reboot Tournament”.

We obviously can’t know what network executives are thinking, but I think they know Bryan Fuller produces fresh, creative shows and does them well, it’s just a matter of the right idea, at the right time, marketed in just the right way, and when we get there, it’s going to be something to behold.

Olivia Guns

Syndication’s Best Friends: Distributing a Hit TV Show

My all-time favorite television show is Friends. My bedroom is literally Friends-themed complete with three posters (one of which is the French painting from Monica and Rachel’s apartment), my collector’s box set of the complete series, and a throw pillow covered with inside jokes from the series to bring it all together.

I was only 79 days old when the very first episode aired, placed strategically between Mad About You and Seinfeld. Despite being oblivious to the first few seasons, I distinctly remember growing up with this television show. My family would sit down altogether and watch it at 8 o’clock every Thursday night religiously; we would never miss an episode. I was able to catch up on some of the episodes from earlier season I didn’t remember through reruns, so I felt as though I really knew these six friends as if they were my own. I remember watching the final episode on May 6, 2004 and crying the whole second half of it. It couldn’t be over?! There would never be another Friends! Nooo!!!

Friends CastBut then there were rumors about a reunion! One of the show’s creators, Marta Kauffman, explains in a Friends 20th Anniversary Oral History” that there are many reasons as to why they won’t do another episode. One reason is that the show was all about their one-line pitch “it’s that special time in your life when your friends are your family” and once the friends have their own families, it changes. Former NBC President, Warren Littlefield, also ads that because the ending of the show was so satisfying, the cast was nervous about a reunion. He says they figured “if they can’t do it as well as they did it, then why do it?”

While there may never be another new episode of Friends produced, that doesn’t mean that you’ll never be able to relive those ten precious years with the friends. There are more ways to watch these episodes now than ever before. You can catch some reruns on Nickelodeon, TBS, and Comedy Central, even if you are in Canada, UK, Serbia, Australia, or Greece! They are also now available through online streaming via Netflix, Stan (the equivalent to Netflix but in Australia), or on TBS.com. The other way you can access these episodes is by buying them on DVD or digital copy on iTunes or Amazon Video. Although it has been over ten year since the series finale, Friends is more accessible than it ever has been and by being available on so many windows, it’s capturing entirely new audiences, many of which weren’t even born when the show was first aired!

There is a certain nostalgic element for many Friends fans, and Time Warner knows how to capitalize on that by even sending fans back in time to be able to tour the famous coffee shop the friends notoriously congregated at. For the show’s 20th Anniversary, a pop-up Central Perk was constructed in New York, allowing fans to tour the temporary replica of Central Perk for four weeks last September. Below is a video of a performance of the Friends’ theme song “I’ll Be There For You” by the Rembrandts, at the pop-up location last year, starring a special guest!

Another interesting thing that sparked my attention in the Friends: 20th Anniversary Oral History” article was that even though the show ended over ten years ago, the six stars are STILL making good money off of the show’s residuals. Because of syndication revenues, the show rakes in $1 billion dollars every year, of which each of the six stars receive 2%, calculating out to each star making $20 million every year the show is in syndication; that’s a lot of money for not doing a thing!

Another source of revenue is their DVD and digital sales. By reissuing the complete series in new editions and in box sets, they continue to make so-called “collectors” items for nostalgic fans. Additionally, not only are the episodes sold on iTunes and Amazon Video digitally, when they sold to Netflix the episodes were bought for $500,000 each. The fourth way they scrap up some revenue in this television series diversification article is through their merchandise, especially Trivia Games (some of which are pictured below, and I own them all!), large Central Perk mugs, and even soundtracks. They have a huge cash cow and are still working on milking it dry.

Friends Game    Friends trivia game   Friends Scene It

One more thing that amazed me about the money involved was this show was how much the actors were paid, with their per episode rate climbing from $22,500 in the first season to $125,000 by season six. For season 7, negotiations got messy, with the big six securing $750,000 for each episode though season 8. But in season 9 rates were raised one last time to $1 million dollars per episode for seasons 9 and 10. This really gives you an idea of just how much this series was making, and how this translated to cast salaries.

Our Friends are not going away any time soon. The billions of dollars in syndication and digital revenues will continue for years to come. Friends is here to stay, so let’s relive those ten years with Rachel, Joey, Phoebe, Chandler, Monica, and Ross again and again! And as far as where the big six stand now…could they BE making any more money?

Ali Holtz

Production & Distribution of Independent Film & Television

Producing independent media is romanticized by many who enter the field of film or television with the hopes of making their mark. Most know the industry is demanding and the effort in ideas, quality, and work usually are the main factors of making the romanticized dream production that will be accepted and recognized by the industry. But one of the key barriers to fulfilling this dream is the concept of distribution and how it affects every aspect of filmmaking and should be one of the major considerations when planning for an independent production.

Joseph Turow of the Media Industries Project for the Carsey-Wolf Center emphasized the importance of distribution at the Net Worth: Media Distribution in the Digital Era Media Industries conference, where he stated “distribution is at least as important as production for players in a media industry, for the audiences that the production firms target, and for the society in which all this takes place.”

Over the past year I have been involved with a feature film project as well as a project for cable TV. One of the things I have learned through developing and producing both projects is that distribution is crucial to the film and television industries. In developing an independent production, you need money for the production itself, but then also money to market the film to jump-start the distribution process.

the summerland projectFor the feature film, The Summerland Project, money had to be allocated for: actors with names recognizable to the distributors, cameras that recorded in cinema quality, an excellent music score, and sophisticated special effects. None of this would have mattered if these elements weren’t used in the “right genre,” like science fiction, action or comedy, that would entice distributors to buy the rights for the film. Stacy Parks of FilmSpecific.com states that “distribution in reverse” is simply reverse engineering your film for distribution.

After production, independent producers try to sell the finished product to any major or smaller distributor who would release it first to theaters, second to home entertainment (Blu-Ray and digital download), and finally to cable channels. The American Film Market is a great place for producers to take films and meet with distributor agents in hopes of getting their productions sold. For The Summerland Project, the producers took this avenue, as they knew the production had a solid genre, with named actors who could get distributors interested in carrying the film.

Alternatively, independent producers can self-distribute the film which requires heavy investment in marketing to agents in order to get the film seen. Usually this process involves submitting to various festivals so that the film can be seen by, and hopefully picked up, by smaller distributors.

   Auction Insider         History Channel

For the TV show, Auction Insiders, we used the festival circuit to showcase the documentary aspect of the reality series, and then entered the pilot in various television festivals. Auction Insiders was selected as one of the top 16 finalist in the New York Television Festivals (NYTVF) A&E 360 Unscripted Development Pipeline Contest.

After the pilot was selected into the this contest, my company, Bus-Stop Productions, and Fuzz Dog Entertainment, were able to pitch the show to executives from the History Channel. The production is currently in negotiations with the History Channel for a development deal.

As I have worked on the development of these productions I have appreciated how my graduate studies in media distribution are complementing the first-hand knowledge gained from working with people that are established in the industry.

Eric Benson

The NCIS Cast Dives (Deep) Into Characters

The cast of CBS’ NCIS features a former collegiate football star, a former Marine with a good conduct medal, and a member of the original producer’s family who also happens to hold dual citizenship. If you’ve never seen the show it would be nearly impossible to guess who’s who, but even for an avid fan such as myself, I was very surprised as to the cast’s backgrounds and their accolades.

NCIS CastIf you’re new to the NCIS franchise but not new to CBS’ Tuesday night lineup, you may be aware that there are also shows titled NCIS: Los Angeles and the newest spinoff, NCIS: New Orleans. For the purposes of comparison, however, I will only be looking at the major characters from the original NCIS.

The major cast members include Mark Harmon as Leeroy Jethro Gibbs, the leader of the Major Crisis Response Team of the Navy Criminal Investigative Service based at the Washington Navy Yard in Washington, D.C. Gibbs is a former Marine sniper with an excellent track record, but he lost his wife and daughter to a Mexican drug cartel and Gibbs extracts his revenge by killing several members of the cartel. Michael Weatherly plays Anthony DiNozzo, the Senior Field Agent with a knack for quoting movies and chasing various women over the course of the series.

The team’s goth forensics expert Abby Sciuto is played by Pauley Perrette, and Sean Murray is NCIS’ computer whiz and goes under the name Timothy McGee. Abby and McGee have had a relationship in the past, but the two are still very close. McGee is also a writer under the pseudonym Thom E. Gemcity. Rounding out the team is the Medical Examiner Dr. Donald “Ducky” Mallard. Ducky’s Scottish accent is made even more awesome by his love of telling stories of his experiences, even if they’re not exactly related to the case at hand.

The team investigates crimes around the world related to servicemen and women in the U.S. Navy and U.S. Marine Corps, but also deals in counterterrorism when America’s safety or freedom is in jeopardy.

Now that you’re up to speed on the characters, let’s take a look at some of their backgrounds. I mentioned earlier that we have a former Marine, a football star, and a dual citizen amongst the real-life qualities, but are you able to guess who’s who? I wasn’t immediately until I started researching, and as it turns out, the casts’ real lives don’t really mirror their characters much at all.

NCIS CelebrationMark Harmon, even though he plays a Marine, is the collegiate football star. He played at UCLA during his time as a Bruin, and he graduated cum laude in 1974 in Communications. Harmon is the uncle of Matt and Gunnar Nelson, of the band “Nelson”. The Marine in real live is the show’s former producer, Donald P. Bellisario. Bellisario was in the Corps from January 1955 thru January 1959, and achieved the rank of Sergeant. He was awarded the Good Conduct Medal upon discharge and went on to earn a Bachelor’s in Journalism from Penn State in 1961. Sean Murray holds dual citizenship between the United States of America and Australia. While Bellisario is no longer the show’s executive producer, he is still Sean’s stepfather (Sean’s mother Vivienne married Bellisario in 1988.)

Joseph Fiennes spoke about the struggle of getting into character, as well as the support he was able to get from his castmates. For Harmon and Murray and the rest of the cast, there is little mentioned in common between themselves and the characters they play on the most-watched show of 2012/2013.

While you aren’t required to analyze the characters and research them as I have done over the past couple of weeks, be sure to set aside some time on Tuesday evenings to catch NCIS from seven until eight on CBS, and check out Netflix if you want to catch up on all 12 seasons prior to this season.

Connor Gibbs

Kids, This is the Story of How My Show Ended- HIMYM and the Difficulties of Ending a TV Series

With the recent release of the final season of How I Met Your Mother on DVD, I was once again confronted with an important question: How should a television writer end a show? Should they write for the fans? Should they write for themselves? As someone who is interested in writing for media in the future these are some very serious questions.

HIMYM1According to a Deadline.com interview, the show’s creators Carter Bays and Craig Thomas originally had an eight season plan for the show, but through many of the show’s early seasons, the show was run on a season by season basis. Bays and Thomas had other ideas, should the show have a shorter run than eight seasons, but with the eight season plan in mind the two filmed scenes with Ted’s children back in 2006. They did this so that the kids would still be young, should the show go as long as they had planned. For more info visit: Deadline.com.

The show actually went nine seasons instead of eight. So therein lies another challenge: what happens if you have to write more seasons than you had originally planned?

The final season meandered through a wedding weekend, taking 23 episodes to cover events that take place in just 48 hours. The final episode covered future events, over the following 17 years.

The finale has been hotly debated. Just take a look at the show’s Facebook page. Users are still commenting on the finale. The response was so negative, that they released an alternate ending on the DVD. Here are YouTube links for both the original and alternate ending.

Original ending: http://youtu.be/nW82fRNJc84

Alternate ending: http://youtu.be/RoHUs8J7x94

The night the finale aired, Craig Thomas went on Twitter with this to say: “Thank you all. I mean it: Every possible reaction to the last 44 minutes … thank you all … The fact that we have been a TV sitcom that has received this much passion from fans, for 9 years (not just tonight) — thank you. We wrote a comedy with dramatic elements till the very end. Thanks for taking that ride with us. We did a finale about life’s twists and turns and that is not always what happens … but THANKS! Seriously – no matter what you thought of tonight, THANK YOU … you were with us. We love you. Thanks for this ride.”

I was an audience member who was shocked at the ending, and my suggestion for writers would be: write for the fans! The fans sat there through nine seasons, many expecting a very different outcome. However, as an Electronic Media major and as a creative person, I feel that writers have to write for themselves. And you can’t go back later and re-write history. The writers of HIMYM wrote the ending they wanted, and although the fans were upset, the fans aren’t the ones who created it. You have to stick with your vision.

HIMYM2For me personally, I was more upset with their execution of the final season than I was with the way the show eventually ended. Spending so much time on one wedding event that lasted into the final episode seemed like a waste. They could have spent anywhere from 3-10 episodes on the wedding and used the rest of the season to wrap things up. Seeing Ted and Tracy’s relationship develop more before she passes would have helped tie up more loose ends. It has been six years for the children, but for the viewers it was just a few seconds and the mother is suddenly dead. In the finale there was too much ground to cover, not enough time, and too many abrupt endings. Many of my feelings are summed up in this article from tv.com.

What do you think: Do writers have an obligation to their fans when ending a show? Or is the obligation solely for their own artistic needs? What shows in the past have disappointed you, which ones haven’t, and why?

Chris Breja

Who’s The Real MVP: The Battle Between ESPN and FOX Sports 1

ESPN has been the worldwide leader in sports since 1979. Many companies have tried to challenge its reign, but they have seen their efforts fail. So who in the world would try to take down this sports media juggernaut? That would be Fox Sports and their new 24/7 sports network, Fox Sports 1. Fox Sports 1 replaced SPEED Channel, which was a network for racing fans. After one year in the race, Fox Sports 1 is still far behind ESPN.

Sports1Fox Sports 1 said that they would be the “fun” alternative to ESPN. They have instead practically become a copycat of ESPN. While ESPN has their shows “NFL Live,” “Around the Horn,” and “Pardon the Interruption,” FOX Sports 1 saw their alternatives to these shows: “FOX Football Daily” and “Crowd Goes Wild” cancelled within a year of their launch. To make the comparison, Crowd Goes Wild, which aired at 5 P.M. eastern, only averaged 80,000 viewers during its best month. That same month ESPN’s Around the Horn and PTI, which aired during the same time period, averaged 883,000 viewers.

While ESPN has dominated the late night sports stage with their top show “Sportscenter,” Fox Sports 1’s “Fox Sports Live” has had issues. The two times “Fox Sports Live” has averaged over 2 million viewers have been after two NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races. Even though Fox Sports Live hasn’t seen the ratings that they wanted to, I do think they have some potential.

Along with the co-anchors Jay Onrait and Dan O’ Toole, Fox Sports Live has their own panel of former athletes. I personally like the unique idea of having former basketball star Gary Payton and former tennis star Andy Roddick talking about football with former quarterback Donovan McNabb. It gives the view multiple perspectives of different athletes, even though they aren’t an “expert” about that sport.

With Fox Sports 1 trying to compete, ESPN has come up with some new ideas to stay atop the sports media world. First, with Sportscenter, ESPN has created their new Studio X (above). Studio X is a brand new set, which has a more futuristic and bright look to it.

Sports2Another brilliant move by ESPN was the addition of Keith Olbermann, who worked for ESPN from 1992-1997. Olbermann was given his own show, “Olbermann,” where he gives his own viewpoints on many topics in the sports world. One thing that I like about Keith Olbermann is that he’s not afraid to speak his mind. He recently called on NFL commissioner Roger Goodell to resign after the Ray Rice domestic violence incident.

While Fox Sports Live hasn’t quite lived up to Fox’s expectations, the sport I think they need to continue to focus on is NASCAR. Even though Fox Sports 1 replaced SPEED channel, NASCAR has continued to lead the way in the ratings. When NASCAR released their 2015 schedule on August 26, NASCAR Race Hub had 178,000 viewers, this just for a schedule being released. NASCAR fans love their coverage, and if FOX Sports 1 wants to keep their head above water, they need to keep NASCAR in their main plans.

Fox Sports 1 came out of the box saying they were going to challenge ESPN right away. While at times I do switch over the watch the non-NASCAR coverage on Fox Sports 1, ESPN still reigns supreme in my opinion. ESPN has more programs where their sports media gives their opinions. They also have many experts for particular sports, compared to Fox Sports 1 who only has three or four for each sport.

Finally, I think the reason most people watch ESPN is that it is what they are accustomed to watching. ESPN has been on the airwaves since 1979, and firmly established itself as the go to sports network. Fox Sports 1 says they are going to rival ESPN, but I believe it’s not even a fight. ESPN is the MVP, and they are pulling away from the pack.

What do you think? How much Fox Sports 1 do you watch compared to ESPN? What could Fox Sports 1 do to catch ESPN?

Andy McConnell

Big Risks, Bigger Rewards?

What huge sports rights deals mean for the networks that obtain them.

Estimates vary, but it is reported that ESPN will spend over $600 million a year for the rights to the brand new college football playoff, which will guarantee the network seven post season games when it starts in 2014.

Given the fact that they pay just $125 million annually for the current Bowl Championship Series games (Rose, Fiesta, Orange and Sugar Bowls), one might think that ESPN has made bad business decision. Recent history would go against that school of thought, however. In this post, I will outline two notable examples of large, and, some would say, risky sports rights deals that paid dividends for the companies that acquired them.

NFL on FoxIn 1987, a small network with quirky shows, known as Fox, made what most considered to be an insane offer.  The rights to the NFL’s Monday night game were up, and Fox bid against long time Monday Night Football stalwart ABC to get the rights. Their offer of $1.3 billion was rejected because, among other reasons, Fox hadn’t established itself as a major network. In 1993, six years after Fox’s Monday night bid was rejected, the contract for CBS’s rights to the NFL’s National Football Conference ran out, and Fox was poised to make a bid yet again. Fox’s bid of $1.58 billion was $100 million more than CBS’s bid, and gave Fox the rights to the NFL for the first time in the network’s existence.

The real genius of the move, however, was in the way the network used it to expand their sphere of influence within the television industry. Because they were literally the only game in town for those who wanted to watch their favorite NFC team, they could use this rights deal to advertise and promote the other shows they had on their station. This led to audience flow from those NFL games to shows like Married… With Children and The Simpsons, among others. The effect of having the NFL rights was that Fox gained a firm foothold as the fourth major network, a spot which they still hold to this day.

London 2012Moving forward to a more recent example, in 2012, NBC bought the rights to the London Olympics. Critics claimed that the deal was going to result in a $200 million loss for the network, but NBC broke even. And, like Fox, they leveraged a captive Olympic audience to promote new programs such as Go On, Revolution and Chicago Fire. Because, where else are you going to watch the Olympics when it’s only on one family of networks?  Despite the fact that Go On didn’t have much success (the show was cancelled after just one season), Revolution and Chicago Fire have gotten solid ratings and were renewed for second seasons.  Revolution, in particular, got huge numbers in the series premier, with nearly 12 million viewers tuning in. Even though the network just barely broke even on the Olympic Games, it is paying dividends for them in the long run.

It is within this broader context that we need to evaluate the large amount that ESPN paid for the rights to the college football playoffs. As history has shown us, it is actually a pretty safe bet. Deals like these, no matter how huge, may make complete sense. There are a lot of people who watch sporting events, and this creates a captive audience, that is very likely to flow from the sporting events to regular programming, thus making the network that much more money. So, what do you think?  Are the amounts that the networks are paying for sports rights getting out of hand, or will they pay off in the end?

Matt Bless