Thursday, February 21, 2008

Cult Following TV cable net for Friday Night Lights, Moonlight, and Jericho?

Various news sources indicate that some NBCU folks are trying to save the award winning show Friday Night Lights (FNL) by finding another network to share the cost. The reason someone is trying to save the show is that it is good, very good. Also it has a cult following.

The reason they have to save it is that it hasn't attracted an audience. The average rating is 6.1 million viewers. For comparison, the CBS show Numb3ers which also runs on Friday evenings typically pulls over 10 million viewers. Its struggling and yet to be renewed new series on Friday, Moonlight, and also has a "cult following", gets about 7.5 million viewers. (Fox's award winning House typically has 13 million viewers and it's episode shown after Super Bowl XLII had 29 million viewers. It is also, good, very good.) The strangest fact about FNL is that it also has done poorly in the 18-49 demographic.

While viewers frequently get upset with a network for not standing behind a show, NBC is trying to find a way to afford this show. It typically costs $3 million an episode to get a show like this ready to hand to NBC. Then NBC and its affiliates not only have to figure out how to pay that bill, but recover all their operating costs and make a profit.

So some NBC folks are trying to persuade The CW or TNT to help with the show to recover the $60+ million a normal season would cost (before network and affiliate costs).

One could ask: Why does it cost so much to produce a TV series? But assuming there is no way to save significant sums, maybe the networks ought to jointly create a subscription cable channel called Cult Following TV. People are willing to pay $10 per month for HBO or Showtime. Then NBC could dump off FNL and CBS could dump off Moonlight and Jericho.

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