Tuesday, May 08, 2007

A Smidge of TV Dweebing

The end is coming for Lost
Popular show will run until the 2009-2010 season

The days for Lost are numbered — and everybody's happy about it.

Lost will continue for three more shortened seasons, then go out with an inevitable "shocking" finale at the end of the 2009-2010 season, ABC said Monday.

The announcement means producers Carlton Cuse and Damon Lindelof have gotten what they wanted, receiving an end date they requested as well as signing a rich new deal.

The agreement is also good for ABC, which gets three more seasons of the still-popular series. The network receives 48 more episodes that ABC will roll out in 16-episode seasons, with all seasons airing uninterrupted (like Fox's 24).

"In considering the powerful storytelling of Lost, we felt this was the only way to give it a proper creative conclusion," said Stephen McPherson, president of ABC Entertainment. "Due to the unique nature of the series, we knew it would require an end date to keep the integrity and strength of the show consistent throughout, and to give the audience the payoff they deserve." Editor's Note: So there WILL be a payoff???

Getting ABC to commit to an end date was first advanced by producers in January. In addition to getting that, Cuse and Lindelof signed contracts that will keep them with the show throughout its run. Details were not announced, but the deal is inevitably a rich one considering Lost is the No. 1 9 p.m. show on TV among the 18-49 audience.

Although its total audience has dropped since its premiere 2004-2005 season, Lost still averages 15.1 million viewers per episode, enough to make it a Top 20 show. It is also the most recorded show on TV, gaining 2.1 million viewers per week via time-shifted viewing.

Going to 16-episode seasons is unusual. Standard series length is 22-24 episodes. 24, for example, has a 24-episode season. In essence, ABC gets to string out two 24-episode seasons of Lost over three seasons. Editor's Note: Which sucks. They'll have to talk really fast to get all the good stuff in, I guess?

Lindelof and Cuse apparently wanted to go two more seasons but agreed to the compromise.

The deal appears to be good for all concerned, including viewers.

"I think for story-based shows like Lost, as opposed to franchise-based shows like ER or CSI, the audience wants to know when the story is going to be over," Cuse told Variety. "When J.K. Rowling announced that there would be seven Harry Potter books, it gave the readers a clear sense of exactly what their investment would be. We want our audience to do the same." Editor's Note: Actually, I think an enddate on "ER" might have been a good thing, too. But that's just me?

NBC Sees Renewal For 'Medium'
NBC has renewed psychic drama "Medium" for a fourth season, the network announced Monday.

"'Medium' is a quality show with an outstanding star that has always delivered a very loyal audience," said Kevin Reilly, president, NBC Entertainment. "We are pleased to know that we can look forward to more of its unique storytelling next year under executive producer Glenn Gordon Caron's superb creative vision."

"Medium" has experienced a ratings downturn since moving to its 10 p.m. Wednesday night time period this season, where airs up against ABC's "Lost." The show has averaged a 3.0 rating among adults 18 to 49, according to Nielsen. But renewal makes sense for fourth-place NBC, which could give the show a less competitive time slot in the fall.

"Medium" is produced by CBS Paramount Network Television, Picturemaker Productions, Inc. in association with and Grammnet Productions. Glenn Gordon Caron is creator and executive producer. Editor's Note: I love this show. Good news!

Nets Use May to Debut New Fare
Each year, summers start earlier. This season, summer starts in spring. On May 18, ABC premieres its game show National Bingo Night. On May 22 and 24, auditions kick off On the Lot, Fox’s filmmaking contest show from Mark Burnett and Steven Spielberg. Burnett’s other contest show, Pirate Master, debuts May 31 on CBS. Editor's Note: Is it just me, or does that last one sound naughty? (Note to self: need to get out more....)

It may be no surprise that the networks are using May’s high HUT levels to promote—if not launch—their summer series. The only surprise may be that it’s taken them this long to do so.

The practice began in earnest last season, when Fox premiered So You Think You Can Dance the night after American Idol’s finale. The network is following a similar game plan this year.

“Rather than give viewers a chance to rest up, the best thing to do is keep the momentum going,” said Preston Beckman, executive vp of strategic program planning for Fox. “The closer you are to the end of May, the higher the circulation. If you wait a few weeks, you get into some really low numbers. So you might as well take maximum advantage of May.” Editor's Note: Yeah...get that crappy reality trash in early, before people remember where they left the remote.

Jeff Bader, executive vp of ABC Entertainment, said his network also hopes to use its high-rated shows to promote Bingo. And while ABC officially launches its midseason holdover Traveler on May 30, it previews the drama May 10, following Grey’s Anatomy. “It’s all about sampling,” Bader said. “Putting Traveler after Grey’s gives it an audience of more than 20 million people. When will there be that big of an audience again?”

Like ABC, The CW launches its midseason stand-by Hidden Palms on May 30. And Fox returns its underperforming action romance Standoff on June 8. Critics often deride such series scheduling as burn-offs. Networks argue they must try to recoup their initial investments in these projects. And in an increasingly fragmented marketplace, advertisers are siding with broadcasters.

It still is something new for many viewers,” said Lisa Quan, vp, director of audience analysis at Magna Global USA. “Maybe they didn’t know a show was supposed to be on earlier in the season, or maybe they didn’t watch it if it was on. So when they see something that looks new and original, they might stop and say, ‘Hey, this is something I’d like to watch.’” Editor's Note: And it beats reading a book or talking to your family, right?

As important as summer’s start is, so is summer’s end. The fall season officially begins Sept. 24, rather than Sept. 17. Editor's Note: And they wonder why they are losing audience? Why even BOTHER producing new content?! Stop prolonging the death spasms; just run test patterns and concede the whole thing to cable and other media now. In response, NBC has pushed back its return of America’s Got Talent to June 5 (from May 29), enabling a mid-summer run of The Biggest Loser to air through September. “If you can keep up circulation right until fall premieres, that’s the best,” said Vince Manze, president, NBC program planning, scheduling and strategy.


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