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Why do all the cable tv series not run like a full tv season?

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Why do all the cable tv series not run like a full tv season?

Old 09-28-05, 01:21 PM
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Why do all the cable tv series not run like a full tv season?

I find it so peculiar that some of the best television on HBO and FX (namely, "The Shield", "Nip/Tuck", 'Rescue Me", "The Sopranos") don't last as long as a normal broadcast tv series. Is it the high production value? But if so, the cable ratings are great for these and syndicate should pay for itself.

So why great shows cut so very short?
Old 09-28-05, 01:23 PM
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Quality > Quanity

They very well might not be called the "best television" if they had to stretch their seasons out over 20-some episodes.
Old 09-28-05, 01:50 PM
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I noticed that as well. Battlestar Galactica and Stargate Atlantis just finished their season finales for the year. I guess we have to wait until Jan 2006 for new episodes.
Old 09-28-05, 02:02 PM
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BSG and Star Gates are only in hiatus. This season is not over, just on break, with the remainder of the series in January. USA does this same thing with Monk, split up the seasons.
Old 09-28-05, 02:14 PM
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Originally Posted by auto
Quality > Quanity

This simple statement says all needs to be said.
Old 09-28-05, 04:23 PM
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Yep. They're learning to do it British style, where short high-quality seasons are favored over long mediocre seasons.
Old 09-28-05, 04:34 PM
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I think there are several reasons for it:

1) As others have pointed out, there are lots of ideas that just aren't good for 22-24 episodes a year.
2) Flexibility -- FX can run a couple of shows year-round, or they could overload the summer period if they felt it made more sense. Same goes for USA. Others are getting there.
3) Budget -- Many of these dramas have to be expensive. Saving the money you can save because you're not working people like they do the folks on L&O matters.

If you ask me, all of those answers are good contributing factors. I think the most important answer is:

4) It's different from what the networks do. The cable nets have to find a way to market things differently, and concentrated runs of gripping dramas are nice and easy to market.
Old 09-28-05, 04:46 PM
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I don't know how the economics work or anything, but I would guess that the lower viewership means they don't get as much advertising revenue, so they don't have the budget to produce as many shows.
Old 09-28-05, 04:53 PM
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Originally Posted by Drexl
I don't know how the economics work or anything, but I would guess that the lower viewership means they don't get as much advertising revenue, so they don't have the budget to produce as many shows.
That only explains so much, though. If a show costs $800,000 an episode and the network decides that it needs $1,000,000 an episode in revenue for the business decision to make sense, you would expect that would work for whatever minimum number of shows they need to spread out fixed costs to the maximum of a normal season. In fact, you might argue that while the network needs $2.6 million ($200k times 13) to make it work, they might only need $3.3 million ($150k times 22) for a regular season. I know economics work into this, so I can only imagine they get by with paying writers, directors, actors, and crew proportionally less to do the shows because they are able to maintain a better quality of life and/or work more on other projects due to the shorter production schedule.
Old 09-29-05, 12:46 AM
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Well the biggest difference between channels would be viewership. Since the lowest rated show on network tv would still have a higher viewership than the highest cable show, then producing a cable show would have to be made on the cheap even if it was a hit. Ratings and awards can be good things, but cable competes with bigger networks and also premium channels that could make the same ratings if they aired a movie or reruns, so its a big undertaking for original programming.

As far as I know most cable shows dont run long each year. The successes like Monk, The Shield, Sopranos run between 10 - 15 shows a year. It seems likely easy to increase an episode order to a full season to 23 shows, but if they worked faster and in a shorter amount anyway, then you're putting up a larger budget with no sure gain. Meaning if you get 10 shows done in 3 months and get the same ratings each week for 9 months on and a few months off, why burn more shows in the same span when ratings could falter at any time. I think the cable shows are still considered a gamble because you lose money on making something that no one may see. I'd think it would be like saying a bit Broadway play is sold out everynight at one place all year, so why not do the same play in all 50 states? There's only so much room in the marketplace.

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