Wednesday, September 22, 2010

The Closer vs. Network TV

At this time each year, I wonder why the major television networks continue to cling to a very traditional model for airing new shows. Why precisely should most programs debut in mid-September and end in early to mid-May? Yes, some reality shows now run in the summer, and a few other programs debut in January. However, by and large, the major networks continue to operate on a very traditional September to May schedule. The question is: Do their customers like or want this schedule? Would they be better served by engaging in some programming innovation?

Well, they have not innovated, and cable networks have done a marvelous job of stepping into that void. Let's take TNT and USA, both of whom have done a marvelous job of counter-programming. Shows such as The Closer run during the summer months, and then again in December-January, when many network shows are airing re-runs. The Closer built quite a following with this schedule strategy. The success of these shows on TNT, USA, and other cable stations shows that the major networks lost an opportunity by not moving away from their traditional September to May schedule.

What's the broader lesson? Ask yourselves: What are the most rigid aspects of my competitors' business models, and how can I take advantage of those rigidities? That question may result in a very successful innovative strategy for your company.

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