The Wall Street Journal reports today that the major broadcast networks are considering doing away with some age-old conventions of the television business in an attempt to entice viewers and advertisers back after the lengthy writers' strike. Well, it's about time!!! I've wondered for many years now why the broadcast networks have adhered to certain conventions, while their ratings have deteriorated. It's seems a classic case of a business being caught in a particular mental model, and not able to shake those basic assumptions while the world around them is changing dramatically.
Here are some questions that all the networks should consider: Why should most new shows premiere in September? Why must the season run from September to May for most shows? Why should nearly every series air episodes once per week? Why not have some series that run episodes in a more condensed fashion, perhaps with 2-3 episodes per week for a few months? Why not create an event, some hoopla, out of the testing of new pilots, perhaps creating a 2-3 day block several times per year filled with a whole array of pilots? Why not couple that with a huge web-based effort to collect feedback about those pilots? We could go on and on... this is clearly a business that needs to be re-tooled, and that begins with shaking the old conventions. I'm glad to hear some executives are beginning to question the conventional wisdom in the business.