After reviewing the latest Nielsen Ratings for Sunday night’s programming, I couldn’t help but notice that viewership is slipping for CBS’ The Good Wife, one of my can’t miss shows of last season.
I quickly realized that, in my case, the reasons the show has moved from “must see” to “might see” are simple and twofold:
1) Sunday nights are for Football (unless the World Series is also on). I have no idea why CBS made the boneheaded decision to move the show to Sunday nights, or thought it would compete, but it can’t. Oddly, the numbers just further compound my confusion about ratings and what they really mean. I hate to display my own ignorance, but The Good Wife had more viewers than Desperate Housewives, in the same time slot, but had a lower rating and share. I’m no quantitative genius by any stretch of the imagination — but that doesn’t jibe.
2) Furthermore, not only will I not change the channel from football to The Good Wife, but CBS carries football games earlier in the day and the games frequently go over the allotted time — so my DVR recording of the show is always out of whack with the actual time the show airs, and I therefore don’t pick up the whole show. The frequency with which this happens is such that I finally just took it off the DVR. It’s great that CBS puts alerts about the delays on The Good Wife’s facebook page — but I’m watching football, not hanging out on Facebook on Sundays.
And just like that! Poof! A show,, that I was telling everyone that I knew they must watch, is no longer a part of my own viewing habit. It was simple and relatively painless. I tried to catch up with the show online, but CBS didn’t get the new episodes up quickly enough and by the time I could access them, it wasn’t a part of my consciousness. I’ve become one of the masses for whom my viewership will be determined by my convenience. With the exception of sports programming, I watch EVERYTHING on DVR, On Demand, on-line or Netflix. I never watch live television anymore, and probably won’t ever again. This transformation just occurred without any conscious decision on my part and was simply a natural evolution in which I gravitated toward programming that fit into my schedule and was available when I wanted to watch it.
It is also interesting to note, that although I missed The Good Wife on the night in question because of The World Series, I did happen to see 60 MINUTES’ report on Steven Jobs, the pioneer of so much of the technology that has contributed to my tuning out of CBS programming. I have an iPhone and an iPad, both of which are products of Steven Jobs’ amazing vision and I would welcome the potential to view my favorite programs on these devices but the CBS website is so difficult to navigate, it makes it a real chore. I can access full episodes on my computer, but perhaps because I am iPhone/iPad challenged, it doesn’t work on the iPad. The irony is that much online, and on-demand programming eliminates the viewers’ potential to fastforward through the advertising that supports the medium, thereby increasing the effectiveness and the potential for the advertiser’s message to actually reach their target audience. While CBS is slowly losing my viewership through their poor use of technology, my lack of impulse control has undermined my efforts to boycott ABC programming, precisely because they feed my selfish need for convenience. I love CASTLE, and watch it On Demand every week. I’ve also become addicted to REVENGE, and I caught the premiere of ONCE UPON A TIME which is kind of interesting. I know I wouldn’t have watched either REVENGE or ONCE UPON A TIME, if not for on-demand. I also endure all the commercials urging me to purchase the latest Disney releases on DVD for the convenience. I can recall almost every product advertised — and isn’t that the point of the advertisement? Whether or not I purchase the DVD release of the latest Pirates of the Carribean movie, I can at least remember seeing the advertisement . . . over and over and over again.
I cannot claim to represent the majority of the audience in my viewing habits. Obviously there are viewers who do not care that Sundays are for football (although ratings indicate there are many like me) and will faithfully tune in no matter how inconvenient. But indications are that the portion of the audience willing to commit to the network’s scheduling is shrinking. CBS appears willing to ignore that portion of the audience who continues to gravitate toward viewing that accommodates their lifestyle and their own schedule.