Check Out Our New Look

HRTS Cable Chiefs Panel: Serialized Dramas Face Uncertain Future On Basic Cable

By | Wednesday February 23, 2011 @ 5:12pm PST
Nellie Andreeva

No big headlines from today’s HRTS luncheon featuring several cable chiefs: FX’s John Landgraf, Showtime’s David Nevins, USA Network’s Jeff Wachtel and BET’s Loretha Jones.

Landgraf spoke candidly about the difficulty of making serialized dramas work on basic cable. He noted that viewers seem to watch only reality series and sports live and prefer to view serialized shows in blocks of several episodes at a time on their DVRs. That hurts ratings tremendously and puts a lot of pressure on scripted programming, which doesn’t come cheap – Landgraf quoted a $200 million figure for keeping a basic cable drama series on the air for 7 years. Looking back at a show like Damages, while proud of it, Landgraf acknowledged that it didn’t work for FX and he wouldn’t do such serialized series in the future.

Other tidbits from the luncheon: Nevins spoke about broadening Showtime’s audiences, Wachtel called the final season of Law & Order: Criminal Intent a “victory lap” and Jones admitted even she was surprised by the huge success of the BET’s sitcom The Game.

Comments (15)

TCA: FX’s John Landgraf Not Discouraged By ‘Lights Out’, ‘Terriers’ Ratings Woes

From Ray Richmond, who is contributing to Deadline Hollywood’s TCA coverage:

In the final executive session of the TCA confab in Pasadena on Saturday morning, FX president and GM John Landgraf acknowledged that he’s disappointed in the ratings for the premiere last week of the network’s latest drama series — the boxing-themed Lights Out — and continued to do post-mortems on the demise of Terriers but he remains undaunted going forward, stressing, “We’ve had six critically acclaimed shows and four ratings successes, one failure and one unknown. You can’t bat .1000 in this business. That’s just the way it is.”

Landgraf cautioned that it’s far too early to dismiss Lights Out as a failure after just a single airing. “It was tremendously acclaimed. We’re disappointed by the premiere ratings, but we’ll be running it as planned. There’s (rarely) been a scripted series on television about boxing, and this is a very good one…(But) no matter how good the show is, the question is, ‘Are they somebody’s first choice? Are they good enough to overcome massive competition in the marketplace?’ I can’t tell you what will happen over he next 12 weeks. Premieres are very important, but shows also find audiences over time. We’ll just have to wait and see.”

“Maybe we should have made a show about a zombie or a sexy vampire trying to regain the heavyweight title of the world,” he quipped, referring to the runaway ratings success of two other … Read More »

Comments 41

It Wasn’t The Marketing: FX Chief John Landgraf On Why ‘Terriers’ Didn’t Work

Nellie Andreeva

FX president John Landgraf did something network presidents rarely do – he got on the phone with reporters today to discuss the reasons behind FX’s decision to cancel the Shawn Ryan/Ted Griffin praised but low-rated series Terriers after one season. A lot had been said about the marketing campaign for the show, with some complaining that the billboards featuring the gnarling dog may have been misleading and thus responsible for the buddy detective show’s low-rated launch. Landgraf said that those billboards were only used in Los Angeles and New York, and, 3 weeks into the series’ run, he ordered a study with 600 people who had not seen the show that examined the effectiveness of Terriers‘ TV promos that had dominated the series’ marketing campaign. The testing showed that the promos “represented the show extremely well and explained very well what it was about,” Landgraf said. “From my standpoint, the marketing department of FX has taken a little bit  of unfair knocks for the lack of performance of the show. I don’t think there is anybody to blame. It’s hard to explain why people didn’t watch.” One of his theories is Terriers‘ “subtle charm,” which certainly “doesn’t describe pop content” in today’s era of laud shows like Jersey Shore, Sons of Anarchy and The Walking Dead. Landgraf said that he parsed through the show’s ratings (Even if it had doubled its numbers for the first season, Terriers would still … Read More »

Comments 129