We all do it. That is, let out a sigh when we find out that a show that we had been excited for has been scheduled for Friday night — a.k.a. the graveyard. But which came first: Viewers deciding not to tune in on that night of the week or TV execs deciding not to give us something worth watching? That’s a question that may soon get answered, according to Mediaweek, which says networks are looking to reclaim the evening. The trick is to keep costs down on those shows because they’re going to have a hard time convincing advertisers that the coveted 18-49 demo is staying home. Especially when CBS, ABC, and Fox are all down year-to-year on Friday. (NBC is up because of the Olympics.)
How you put on quality programming, cheaply, is an interesting dilemma: Reality and game shows are throwaways. You could air scripted originals, but risk them being branded as shows for an older audience (we miss you, Monk), which won’t get you ad dollars. You could target a younger demo, like ABC thought about doing by resurrecting a TGIF concept, but there are cable networks that now have a stronger hold on that audience. You could get financing help from someone like DirecTV (Friday Night Lights returns to NBC May 7) or scoop up less expensive shows produced internationally (like CBS’ Flashpoint and Fox’s Mental).
Before you tell us what kind of programming you want on a Friday night, tell us how you actually use your evening. I’m usually so exhausted from the week that all I want to do is go home and spend time with Peter, my DVR. I tape CBS’ Ghost Whisperer, but I don’t always watch it. Frequently, I find I’m still catching up on shows I missed because I was working late or out earlier in the week. Now that I’m thinking about it, I often create my own comedy block: the bits of NBC’s Thursday night lineup that I missed recapping Bones and The Vampire Diaries, The Big Bang Theory, Ugly Betty… I want something smart and fun that plays to my weary attention span, so good comedies (or an escapist, non-serialized show like Fantasy Island, which aired on Saturday night) would work.
Your turn. Do you find yourself staying in more on Friday? If so, what kind of show are you really in the mood to watch?