What You Don’t Know About TV Networks


Laura Cercone Period 1 HB

Since the 1950s, the Television has taken off and only increased in popularity. The average American watches 5 hours of TV every day and is proven that as age increases, so do the hours spent in front of the screen.[1] TV networks create shows that are intended to capture the interest of the targeted age that will help their ratings and increase their profit. Many people have watched show after show die that they may have loved and invested so much time, energy, and popcorn into. They may begin to wonder why their favorite show they had so much hope for is canceled. The first important fact for people to understand is “If the network wanted a show to fail, they wouldn’t put it on the air.”[2] No show is meant to ever get canceled, but sometimes there is no other option.

There are many reasons TV shows fail. All the major TV networks such as CBS, ABC, and FOX have major incentives to both please the public and raise their ratings and profits. Something that is very common for TV networks to do is move a show to different timeslots. This happens for a number of reasons. If it’s a new show and it’s clearly not working in its timeslot, it gets moved somewhere where it might work better, or it will be moved for the benefit of shows in time slots around it. There are certain time slots that have proved to be death sentences for TV shows. For these 3 networks, they all prove to be Sunday-Friday after 8 pm. “Every show, no matter how good or bad, is ultimately at the mercy of its time slot.”[3] TV networks have the incentive to move TV shows around due to how the ratings of the show are developing. If a show is doing great and is making a lot of money, this causes incentives for the network to invest in that TV show and do what it can behind the screen to make sure it survives and keeps making them money.

The biggest heartbreak to a person who falls in love with a show is the show getting canceled. Why? “Ultimately, the shows gets canceled for a very simple reason — not enough people show up to watch them.”[4] As technology has increased, alternate methods of watching said TV shows have changed too, such as illegal streaming online. More and more people are watching shows via file-sharing and other methods which don’t allow for them to be counted in the viewership, thus ratings do not increase accurately which can lead to the cancellation of the show. Along with this, advertisers will not invest in a TV show with low ratings, which keeps the network from making profit. These networks are forced to take risks that will benefit them. They cannot continue to produce a show if the show is making them no money and not helping the economy. People commit crimes because they can make outsized gains relative to the risk and this is similar to how people whose show gets canceled view the network like they stole something from them.[5] Sadly, there is nothing anyone can really do to keep their favorite show alive. If a show’s going to get canceled, make sure you’ve got your tissues ready.



[1] Hinckley, David. “Average American watches 5 hours of TV per day.” NY Daily News. March 05, 2014. Accessed March 26, 2017.

[2] Engler, Craig. “Explaining 12 things TV networks do that seem crazy.” Boing Boing. May 13, 2010. Accessed March 26, 2017.

[3] Lynch, Jason. “TV’s 10 Worst Time Slots: Can Any Show Survive?” Adweek. October 21, 2014. Accessed March 26, 2017.

[4] Chan, Ashton. “Why Do Great Shows Get Cancelled?” The Huffington Post. December 17, 2015. Accessed March 26, 2017.

[5] Wheelan, Charles. “Ch.2 Incentives Matter .” In Naked Economics: Undressing the Dismal Science. New York, New York: W.W Norton & Company Inc, 2010.


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