Television and media Nowadays, competition in broadcasting has achieved its zenith, especially at prime-time nightly line-ups, which are to helpAmerican workers distract from their problems and have a rest. Prime-time is the most favorable broadcasting period, as the majority of Americans usually watch TV between 8 and 11 p.m. Such TV-business-giants as CNN and NBC compete particularly actively at this time in order to attract additional viewers, so they apply such broadcasting techniques as counter-programming, block-booking and tent-poling as a the means of inertia law maximization. Program scheduling thus becomes a critical business-strategy for both channels, since their ratings have decreased over the last several months (www.dawgnetnews.com, 2006) because of their ineffective counter-programming.
Counter-programming is a telecast of similar programs at the same time. For example, at 11 p.m. on September, 29, NBC broadcasts The TV Show with Jay Leno (www.nbc.com, 2006), whereas one might watch Larry King at the same time on CNN. Both shows include interviews and Hollywood chronicles so that the viewer has a chance to selects between the two channels.
Block booking includes introduction of a new (‘fresh’) program within a set of similar telecasts. For instance, at 8 p.m. CNN broadcasts ‘Rumsfeld: Man of War’ that takes an unprecedented, up-close look at U.S. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld. CNN special correspondent Frank Sesno was given rare access to the defense secretary, his allies and critics of his stewardship of the war in Iraq (cnn.com, 2006), whereas NBC telecasts ‘Deal or No Deal’ and ‘Dateline: to Catch a Predator’, adventure series. Due to the fact that the documental film about Rumsfeld is quite unusual for this nightly line, it is likely to win a prime-time competition for CNN, especially when taking into account its novelty and national importance.
Another broadcasting technique, tent poling, includes the introduction of a stronger program with more action and interesting information within a set of weaker or less bright programs or shows. For instance, NBC telecasts Late Night with Conan O’Brien at 12.30 a.m., whereas CNN shows Alison Cooper 360, quite ordinary series with average rating. The telecast of the latter movie is not the best decision for the channel, willing to stick viewers to TV-screen at such a late time, while Late Night is a typical midnight show, captivating and a little intricate.
As one might see, there is a clear viewer dynamics within the framework of inertia law. On NBC one can watch two similar TV-series at 8 p.m. and 9 p.m., but Law and Order, beginning at 11.34 p.m., has less elaborated plot and is likely to damp average viewer’s interest, since it is designed for a certain audience. At this time, viewer is likely to switch to Larry King’s show (with 15-million-rating (www.cnn.com, 2006), telecasted by CNN, because this element of program schedule seems more entertaining. Furthermore, at 3 a.m. CNN telecasts the replay of the same Larry King’s interview, so the decrease of the customer’s interest is expected in this case. Average viewer is likely to return to NBC, which broadcasts new series of Jay Leno’s show (12-million rating (www.dawgnetnews.com, 2006). Inertia law thus is provided by the set of programs, created in order to maintain viewer’s interest for certain time period – as a rule, for no more than two-three hours.
To sum up, the prime-time competition between CNN and NBC is particularly sharp, because both channels try to put their stronger shows in the midst of less popular programs in order to keep viewers in suspense.
1) NBC Schedule, 2006. at www.nbc.com
2) Today on CNN, 2006. at www.cnn.com.
3) Marcy, W. Premiers freshen fall lineup, 2006. at http://dawgnetnews.com/archive/031009/1590.html