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Cable Networks Exploring Niche Shows, Rather than Reality Programming

By admin | October 10, 2011

Cable Networks like VH1, AMC, TVLand and BET used to be known for their reality programming and original programming repeats from other networks. Now, these networks and other smaller networks are offering opportunities for niche viewers to find what they want to watch and more opportunities for writers to create scripted shows.

Creating original shows on cable networks is nothing new. Broad appeal networks like TNT and TBS have created original dramas and comedies for years. Now smaller, more focused networks are following suit with niche programming and advertisers are listening. AMC’s success with both “Mad Men” and “Breaking Bad” in the past five years has set a blueprint that many other niche networks are following.

Viewers are tired of the massive amounts of repeats and reality television and are looking for something different. The success of original niche programming seems to indicate that networks have found a good strategy for attracting viewers.

For smaller cable networks, scripted shows like TVLand’s “Hot in Cleveland” and VH1’s forthcoming drama “Single Ladies” act as centerpieces to attract advertisers. This season’s upfront advertising period, which determines ad buying for the rest of the year, is being affected by this shift in programming. Ad spending is shifting from broadcast networks to cable networks more and more each year.

The original programming also presents new opportunities for television development professionals as well. If an idea or pilot is rejected by a major network, writers and producers have other avenues to pursue. This variety and need benefit writers particularly. Unlike reality programming, which is heavy on editing and producing, original programming requires detailed writing and plot development.

Topics: drtv, media buying | No Comments »