Television’s Fall Season Endures

For years, Alan Wurtzel, the head of research for NBC, has questioned the enduring validity of a television season — the ritual competition of network series, which begins again Monday night.

“I’ve been saying the idea of a television season is an anachronistic artifact,” Mr. Wurtzel said. “It’s a 52-week-a-year business. We never take a night off.”

The tradition of the fall season, originally tied to the start of the model year for new cars, is now more than 60 years old. It is defined arbitrarily and rather arcanely by the Nielsen Company as 34.5 weeks between mid-September and mid-May. The season doesn’t account for the increasing number of viewers who watch shows on their own schedules and it hasn’t stopped cable networks from introducing hit shows all through the year.

And yet, the idea persists, in large part because it still works. In defiance of diminishing ratings, attention on the new network shows seems only to have increased, as more blogs and social media sites offer breakdowns of the lineups and predictions of successes and failures.

Read more: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/09/24/business/media/television-changes-but-the-fall-season-endures.html?_r=0

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