How TV networks can boost ratings on Friday nights

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Is Friday TV dead? NBC's latest strategy might be sign of just how bad things have gotten. On Oct. 26, NBC will debut "Mockingbird Lane," its reboot of the 1960s series "The Munsters." However, many people out there might be wondering what the point is. "Mockingbird Lane" was originally supposed to be a TV pilot, but NBC declined to pick it up. The episode is being touted as a special, and the future of the show is uncertain. As of now, "Mockingbird Lane" is simply a one-and-done show that isn't going to fix Friday nights. In fact, Friday nights have been rough for networks so far. NBC has already pulled a couple of comedies, CBS canceled "Made in Jersey," and Fox bumped "Touch" until the spring. "People aren't staying around to watch TV on Fridays," says one ABC exec. Clearly, networks are at a loss about what to do with this particular night. So what can be done?

Give shows another chance

It's clear that airing original episodes of sitcoms and dramas on Fridays is a bad idea. For years, this night has served as a graveyard for shows. Obviously, NBC realized that by pulling "Community" and "Whitney" from their planned Friday launches. Instead of airing new episodes, why not give viewers another chance to catch up on TV shows? A lot of networks air pilots that many people never get the chance to see. They might air in the summer, or they might not be properly promoted. It could also be a simple matter of a new show going up against too many established shows on a different night. By airing a rebroadcast on Friday, networks can get a better idea of fan interest. Maybe more people will be inclined to record a show a second time, and they might just build an audience. The networks can save money on production costs since the material is already there, and they might end up discovering that a show has more legs than they originally thought.

Plan reality shows better

One bold strategy would involve airing some established reality shows on Friday nights. Shows like "The Voice," "American Idol," and "Dancing With the Stars" already run on multiple nights each week. Why not bump one of those nights to Friday? Those shows will still retain their viewers, even if they have to record them on the DVR. In fact, the extra days between episodes might generate even more buzz. As an added bonus, networks can free up other nights to air original programming. That gives sitcoms and dramas a better shot at building viewers. This seems like a win-win idea for the networks. Since things can't get much worse on Friday nights, it might be worth a shot.

Bring back movies

Given the busy lives that people lead, it's asking a lot for someone to commit to a series on Friday night. Instead, networks might get a boost if they start airing movies. It used to be that broadcasting hit movies on networks for the first time was a big deal. However, that seems to be reserved for cable channels nowadays. Why don't the networks get back into the mix? After a movie has had its run on the premium channels, it might be a good idea for one of the major networks to broadcast it. For many people, it might be the first chance they have to see a hit film. The costs would be manageable for channels, and they might attract new viewers. Best of all, people don't have to commit to watching something at the same time every week. Different movies will draw different people.
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