TV NotesWife' Taking Late Hits by N.F.L.
By Bill Carter, The New York Times
- November 7th, 2011
The Good Wife on CBS is an Emmy-winning show (for its star Julianna Margulies) with a committed, devoted audience.
But its relocation this season to Sunday nights has resulted in the loss of about 2 million viewers and outright frustration for a number of its fans, especially those who make a point to record the episodes on DVRs.
The problem is one that shows on CBS have lived with for a generation: late-afternoon National Football League games that run past their scheduled broadcast time. This season, for example, The Good Wife has started as late as 9:29 p.m. Eastern time as it did on Oct. 30 not at 9 p.m. as scheduled.
Not only is that a rather odd time to begin watching a television show, but it is also far later than anyone's DVR anticipated the show to start. For some avid followers that means a truncated episode.
Bobbi-Lee Smart, a fan of the show who participates in a weekly online commentary about The Good Wife, said in a Twitter message, Any time events run over their time and cut into the shows I'm recording I get annoyed.
This Sunday The Good Wife played in its usual 9 p.m. slot in much of the country, but in many big cities CBS was broadcasting N.F.L. games that again moved the starting time to 9:30. Those cities included television markets like Washington, Dallas, Tampa, Denver and Atlanta.
On Oct. 30 viewers in every CBS market were affected. If they recorded The Good Wife at its usual time, and sat down to watch it later, they would have seen 29 minutes of The Amazing Race, the reality competition that precedes The Good Wife on Sundays and only half the episode of the hourlong drama they wanted to see.
I can certainly understand the frustration some people have with the N.F.L. run-overs, said Kelly Kahl, the CBS executive in charge of scheduling.
CBS said it was trying everything it could think of to alert fans of The Good Wife when the show would not be starting on time. That included sending a fusillade of messages on the network's Twitter feed; posting the information on CBS.com and CBS's Facebook page; messages scrolled every five to six minutes at the bottom of the television screen after the end of the games; and even something called an Eye-Lert, which use e-mails and text messages to warn subscribers to this CBS service that a show may be delayed.
The network also has begun posting information on its Web site directed at fans of The Good Wife to instruct them on exactly how to program their DVRs to ensure that they will not miss the show. The message reads, in part: Make sure you get the entire program by setting your DVR to record a two-hour block rather than just one hour. That way, if The Good Wife' is delayed 20 or 30 minutes, you will still get the whole show.
The expanding use of DVRs 43 percent of homes with television are now equipped with the device is one reason the football over-runs are drawing more attention. But another is tied specifically to The Good Wife, which has a somewhat serialized story line, a rarity on CBS. The network mainly broadcasts dramas with self-contained stories.
The Good Wife does have those, but it also has a continuing plotline, which is one element that makes the show so compelling and more frustrating for its fans to miss (or to miss the last half of an episode). Some fans expressed concern about the fate of The Good Wife when CBS moved the drama from Tuesday night to Sunday night. CBS executives, led by Nina Tassler, the president of its entertainment division, promised that moving the show did not mean it was being downgraded.
CBS had sound reasons to make the move to Sundays, said Brad Adgate, who heads research for the advertising-buying firm Horizon Media. They could put Good Wife' against Desperate Housewives' and try to take away some women viewers, Mr. Adgate said.
Even with Desperate Housewives down an average of more than 3 million viewers, though, The Good Wife is not faring as well on Sunday as it had on Tuesdays. It has lost an average of almost 2 million viewers in its first six episodes this season, averaging about 10.5 million viewers an episode. The show's rating in the advertiser-preferred audience group of viewers between the ages of 18 and 49 has slipped from a 2.3 to a 2.1.
The initial ratings for The Good Wife on Sunday were about the same as the previous week, but they are unsettled until the differences in all the markets where games ran late can be factored in. But it is probable that more viewers in those cities found themselves missing half the latest episode if they did not program their DVRs to record the later program as well.
The show's Sunday slot, while advantageous because the night is the most watched in television, is not totally suitable in one respect: CBS has a huge audience early in the evening with football, but that audience, which is 65 percent male, does not exactly line up with the Good Wife audience, which is 65 percent female.
Mr. Kahl expressed satisfaction over all with the show's performance on Sundays and noted that the concern about how the delayed recordings were affecting it tells me that The Good Wife' has a very loyal audience.
He said that CBS was trying to go overboard in letting people know when the show would be delayed. He added, Other than call people individually, which I would be happy to do if I could, I think we are doing about everything we can.http://www.nytimes.com/2011/11/08/ar...ref=television