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October 8, 2015

Has cable become credible?

by Danny Gallagher, posted Nov 28th 2008 5:01PM
Homer loves his cableWhat the hell is going on here? Have we entered the bizarro world? Is up now down? Has black become white? Was The Simpsons canceled after the first three episodes while The Secret Diary of Desmond Pfeiffer went on to become the longest running and most award winning series in the history of television?

Variety reports that while the big four networks are cutting back on their sitcoms and dramas for more reality fare, cable networks have been ramping up their dramas, comedies and dramadies and are now in a position to compete for some real ratings.

And it's not just in quantity where cable has tipped the scales.

HBO and Showtime combined have at least 32 shows in development with such high profile names as Martin Scorsese, Tim Robbins and Seth Rogen. These guys never could have gotten the deals they wanted on free TV because they would constantly be restrained and gagged like an S&M freak who pays for a week long bondage session during his "business conference" in Vegas.

It's also a smart move. The Big Four (with the exception of NBC and if you count the CW) are making massive Leatherface sized cuts, reports Variety. So it's a prime opportunity for the cables to hemmorhage the bleeding with some shows that have a better-than-average potential to not suck.

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I think the run time for each season on cable also helps. No matter if it's a 30 or 60 minute show, cable channels keep seasons to a 12-14 episode run, which is wise. The days of having 20-26 episodes per season seem like a waste. I think a show like Pushing Daisies or Dirty Sexy Money was better off being in a short run. I think Lost setting themselves to 18 episodes was a smart move (and it would have been less per season/year without the strike).

People are finding other forms of entertainment or are investing in more TV shows but it's hard to invest in more shows when each show is running 20+ episodes a season. Keeping them down, staggering the schedules, and giving people something to watch during the summer has helped cable eclipse network television in many regards.

Now it's just finding a way to capitalize on viewership.

December 01 2008 at 9:56 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I think people are drawn to cable because the quality is just significantly better, and the chances of cancellation are lower as well. After Pushing Daisies unfortunate run I'm thinking of cutting all new ties with the Networks and focussing completely on Cable. I'm just going to wait until my old show finish then I'm going to only watch new shows on cable.

December 01 2008 at 2:58 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I just know that 1) I hate reality tv and 2) the only shows I watch on network tv are soaps (CBS) and Heroes (which is finally starting to get interesting.) So for the most part, network tv is worthless. Hell, I haven't even watched UPN/WB (CW- if u count that as network) since Angel went off the air. There is a reason why I have all the movie channels thru Dish network; it's for descent tv viewing pleasures like Dexter.

December 01 2008 at 9:54 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Greg, I believe the Lucky Louie episode that was only on DVD was never intended to air. It was always meant to be a bonus episode to encourage people to buy the DVD. When the show aired in Australia the final episode wasn't on TV, and only on the DVD release.

December 01 2008 at 3:44 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

the business model for cable is very different the broadcast networks and let's be fair, cable surrounds those "hit dramas" with repeats of network programming, theatrical movies and crap reality themselves -- the broadcast model is one that was built years ago with little changes, cable was able to build their model through a lot of trial and error and is able to repeat their shows alot more then an nbc or cbs could. Besides, broadcast networks aren't getting subscriber fees, cable is - be nice when your business model doesn't just rely on advertising dollars and you can take some risks and let shows run their entire seasons.

November 30 2008 at 10:07 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Darlene K

Yes, I agree that the networks are screwing up big time with cancelling shows that people wanted, like Moonlight, Jericho, etc. Look at how many people got upset because of these cancelled shows. HBO came back with True Blood. The cable companies are going to rule. And I won't care when the networks fall on their behinds because they wouldn't listen to the viewing public.

November 28 2008 at 11:22 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Darlene K's comment
Joe stalin

I'd agree with those above, HBO is cancel happy too. But FX, FX fricking rules all. And Showtime ain't too shabby either.

November 29 2008 at 4:13 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Cable has been "credible" for years now. With networks going for more cheap, low quality crap, with networks giving up entire nights of television, cable has been stepping up for years now. People like to say it's because cable has fewer FCC restrictions than broadcast networks, but that's a completely lame excuse. Yeah, there some shows with excessive sex and language, but series like The Closer, Battlestar Galactica, and Burn Notice aren't successful because they feature excessive sex and language. They're successful because they're either different from the normal network fare or they take a tried-and-true genre and give it a twist (Dexter is a good example of a police procedural turned on its head).

Of course, it has to be said, cable has yet to draw the numbers of the more successful network series like CSI or Grey's Anatomy, but give it time. The networks have found some success with reality series, but most of them are utter failures. If the networks think they can survive by putting more cheap crap on the airwaves they're kidding themselves.

November 28 2008 at 10:08 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Apart from some network comedies (30 Rock and The Office), all the best drama shows have been on cable. Really....Dexter, The Shield, The Wire, The Sopranos, Deadwood, Battlestar Galactica, etc. etc.

November 28 2008 at 6:59 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Borat's comment
Alicia R.

I have to agree with you. And with Showtime trying to take back over the dramas made for cable, I think it will be an exciting time between HBO and Showtime.

November 28 2008 at 7:39 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Yeah more reality shows...excuse me (vomiting) Sorry couldn't help myself. One of the advantages of more reality television is maybe I'll stop watching so much t.v. and do something constructive. Who knows?

November 28 2008 at 6:17 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I watch more cable now than network TV anymore. Cable will let a show run while Networks are too fast in cutting the good shows while leaving the bad ones on...
Example. ABC cutting DSM, PD and Eli while leaving Private Practice on...
Give me my FX, USA, AMC Showtime and HBO any day....

November 28 2008 at 5:34 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
4 replies to Richard's comment

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