With approximately 374 million channels at our disposal, TV viewership has never been more fragmented. Many network shows are routinely scoring around 3 million viewers…and not being canceled! But there are still a few programs that somehow manage to reach blockbuster status. Thanks to social media, now everyone wants to watch them in real time so they can participate on Twitter and other platforms. It’s the reason that the lamest Super Bowl ever just set a record as the most watched TV event in U.S. history. It’s why the Winter Olympics destroyed network competition the same way the half-pipe destroyed U.S. snowboarders. It’s why a dude crossing the Grand Canyon on a tightrope, Carrie Underwood singing about crisp apple strudels, and a shark-infested tornado attacking Ian Ziering became pop culture touchstones. Seeing the way these programs became must-see — and must-tweet — TV, all the channels are now searching for the next big thing. Here, a few suggestions.
The Legend of Rolf’s Shorts
NBC has already announced that Peter Pan will follow The Sound of Music as its next holiday musical event, but with apologies to Cathy Rigby, what we really want to see is more of everyone’s favorite singing Nazi, Rolf. And why? Those shorts! Where did they find the ill-fitting fabric that threatened to turn star Michael Campayno into a permanent soprano? Origin-story alert! Clearly some sort of prequel is in order to lend some much-needed mythology to one of our “favorite things.” Not to mention a potential Project Runway crossover where contestants must design Rolf a new outfit.
The Super-Duper Bowl
If Peyton Manning connecting on two-yard passes for three hours attracts 112 million fans, imagine what a follow-up extravaganza could do. What happens in the follow-up? It almost doesn’t matter. Football players doing anything is a ratings bonanza. Maybe the Seahawks face a squad of belligerent curlers tossing stones in their general direction. Or just hand Richard Sherman a microphone and allow the Red Hot Chili Peppers to rip off their shirts while not actually playing their instruments and you’re already 150 million strong.
Zombie Pudding Challenge!
The Walking Dead ratings are so huge that it’s time to think bigger, like this pay-per-view event for the ages. The basic gist: Surly teen Carl Grimes has to eat an entire 112-ounce vat of chocolate pudding before a gaggle of zombies eats him. Either way, viewers win. If Carl survives, he advances to the “Screw You, Dad!” bonus round, where he has to see how many ungrateful insults he can hurl at his father before an exasperated Papa Rick finally takes his hat back and takes off.
The Yippie For Famous People Awards™
Awards shows are hot. Even the Golden Globes — which were once seen as a complete joke for handing out trophies to people like Pia Zadora — are breaking 20 million viewers these days. So let’s make one up as yet another excuse for fancily dressed celebrities to tell other fancily dressed celebrities how incredible they are. The Yippee for Famous People Awards? celebrate the best of the best…which is to say, anyone who agrees to show up and accept a trophy. Mario Lopez has been signed to a lifetime contract as host.