Shows start and end just off the half-hour
By Gary Levin, USA TODAY
Network efforts to get viewers to stick around for the evening are annoying some of their most passionate fans.
Inveterate time-shifters — including owners of digital video recorders such as TiVo, as well as some VCR owners — are getting ticked off by the minutes lost when broadcasters shift their schedules so some shows start and end just slightly off the hour or half-hour.
More hit series are running a little longer to hook viewers and rake in ad dollars, but the practice causes trouble for users of TiVo and other recorders.
Users of Internet message boards lately have gone so far as to accuse ABC of conspiracy for extending episodes of hits 'Lost' and 'Desperate Housewives' by a minute or two. Not only can such padding cause recorders to clip off the start or end of an episode, it also can create overlaps ("conflicts," in TiVo parlance) with later shows on other channels so viewers can't record them. And, in doing so, it keeps viewers from skipping through those lucrative commercials.
The padding also discourages viewers from clicking their remotes, under the theory they'll be less likely to switch channels if they've already missed the start of a competing program.
ABC is unapologetic. "It's not my job to make it easy for people to leave our network," says ABC scheduling chief Jeff Bader. "Our whole goal is to get people to stay with us from 8 to 11."
I'm not an ayotollah for the TV Universe. I'm just a Caretaker; one of many.
Still, can I declare a fatwah against Mr. Bader?
All I can say is that such a practice ignites a hatred towards the following show. And as the practice continues, that hatred burns brighter.
This isn't always the case for 'Boston Legal', following 'Desperate Housewives'. But I'm a fan of both 'The West Wing' and 'Jack & Bobby'. Bad enough that two shows of a similar nature must compete against each other. I don't like the idea I'm getting the beginnings snipped off by ABC's extensions of 'Lost'.
It's not like we're even getting more show - they're just adding more commercial time!
What the other shows should do is delay the first few minutes by showing more "Previously, on..." clips before the new episode actually begins.
That'll show this wanker.
But in the meantime.....
Morley Safir was right. Network executives (like Jeff Bader) must be nibbled to death by ducks!
Maktoob: It is written!