In the perpetual competition for rating points ... the 4 major Networks have never, seemingly, been more challenged.
Causing them to take never-before heard of risks with their primetime promised land.
No big surprise that this has taken a seemly and violent turn ... TV Networks Blood Spattered Race To Compete With The Walking Dead (The Atlantic).
Summed up best this way ... "It could be that, after 60-plus years of doing things a certain way, it's hard for the broadcast networks to convince viewers that their model, and the quick cancellations that go with that model, will ever change. But they also see that the cable model, with its shorter seasons that air in their entirety, is starting to gain traction with viewers."
And Kevin Reilly at FOX aquiesced that it is The Walking Dead (last season's number one drama - and on AMC ... not a "Network") that is keeping him up nights.
"People love zombies" ... he reportedly told an audience 'during the just-concluded Television Critics Association press tour, where executives, producers and talent come to a hotel ballroom to present their wares to the nation's entertainment journalists and TV critics'.
So he is out there running perhaps one of the goriest dramas ever brought to air on a Network ... The Following ... about a serial killer and his cult followers who ... well ... let's just say it ain't real pretty. Poor Kevin Bacon (in lead role as former FBI agent Ryan Hardy) who must be up at night himself with nightmares.
But the issue for me is Networks ability to actually compete with the likes of AMC these days on this basis.
The problem is ... the Networks have so many more rating points, and revenue, to try and protect. It costs alot of money to produce these types of dramas ... and the networks have a very low tolerance if the thing isn't a ratings hit within the first 2 or 3 shows. They have to make back that high investment with advertising dollars ... based on ratings points ... and if there just aren't that many showing up with popcorn for the screen-fest ... well ... Network as serial killer (all puns intended!).
AMC, or cable networks (little "n"), like them on the other hand, are dealing with alot less capacity ... not nearly as many original series to fund or monetize with big hit ratings.
So, in a way ... they are able to out Network the Network because of their more modest scale. A hit like Walking Dead keeps AMC on everyone's map ... and willing buyers will buy some lesser rated fare on the network (little "n") in order to have a shot at that Walking Dead inventory. So AMC wins on multiple levels.
Kevin Reilly, though, has to try and keep a dozen of these types of things afloat.
So I'm expecting more blood and gore at a TV screen near me ...
According to Reilly and others ... it's what the people want. In spite of the rhetoric to the contrary. After all ... Nielsen doesn't lie.
But he sure looks scary ...
UPDATE: 1-25-13 Is FOX's Bold and Bloody THE FOLLOWING Too Sadistic? - MediaPost