Do you think we will ever get the shows that have a small niche audience?

Discussion in 'TV on DVD and Blu-ray' started by Mark To, May 27, 2004.

  1. Mark To

    Mark To Supporting Actor

    Feb 23, 2004
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    Don't get me wrong, I think its great that many popular shows are being released in their original uncut form. But what about the shows that will never sell in huge numbers? I'm not talking about recent stuff from the last 5-10 years. I mean shows like these:

    Coronet Blue - great series, shot in 1965, aired in summer 1967, great ratings but by the time CBS put it on the star had moved on. Check the Jump the Shark site for many comments on the show. Only 13 episodes, too small for syndication, perfectfor DVD.

    T.H.E. Cat - Robert Loggia as a bodyguard. Great score by Lalo Schifrin. Lots of violence. Ran only 1 year.

    Way Out - Twilight Zone type show, only creepier and not as light-hearted. 14 episodes, did great on the coasts, not so well in the rest of the country.

    Crusader Rabbit - First Jay Ward cartoon, one of first cartoons made for television. Primitive animation but a landmark cartoon.

    Obviously none of these things would sell anywhere near 25,000 but in the music world we see releases of groups who never even had their albums come out. I mean, not by major labels but by smaller labels. Can we see that here or are the studios too greedy to license out product for reasonable amounts of money? In the music world, some companies are easy to deal with, some impossible. As many are the same companies, here's how they break down:

    Sony, RCA, EMI - very accomodating.
    Universal, Warners - next to impossible, demanding unmeetable guarantees.
    Independents - usually very easy.
  2. Casey Trowbridg

    Casey Trowbridg Lead Actor

    Apr 22, 2003
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    The answer to this question is pretty simple, and is pretty much the same answer for more popular shows as well.

    If the studios can find a way to make money on the release, then they will release it. Now, the issue is for a certain release lets say Crusader Rabbit, how much work or rather how much will it cost, to get these shows in shape for a DVD release. I think though that ultimately it comes down to can we find a way to do this and make money? If the answer is yes, then it is probably going to get done.
  3. Steve Phillips

    Steve Phillips Screenwriter

    Jan 18, 2002
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    I doubt any of those will see the light of day. They likely never even had a life in syndication, and were not exactly hits during their original runs. Even TV Land doesn't often run tremendously obscure shows. No one thinks there is a market for this stuff.

    The only hope for material like that would be if TV Land or another similar service would start up a seperate channel for lesser known shows. It would be great to see a multi-plexed TV Land. They could have a 50s channel, another for the 60s, etc all dedicated to the lesser known or forgotten shows.

    Sometimes low power TV stations (usually not carried by cable systems) will run stuff like this. In Las Vegas, a station ran both seasons of "The Mothers-In Law" several times through in the late 90s! I'd never seen that series aired in syndication before that.

    Maybe if the producers of these series would license them dirt cheap some smaller company would put some of them out in low cost Brentwood type sets. It's not like anyone has made any money at all syndicating THE C.A.T anyway so why not?
  4. Tom.W

    Tom.W Stunt Coordinator

    Apr 7, 2004
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    You may be right about TVLand being the best hope for shows like this. TVLand Canada has shown The Millionaire, Car 45, Burke's Law, and several vintage Canadian shows like The Voyagers over recent months. These are not exactly obscure shows, but I wish they would find a way air more shows like these in the U.S. Trouble with another branch channel is that most cable systems probably wouldn't pick it up.

    I think low powered stations are a better bet. We've had The Mothers-in-Law and Father Knows Best on local stations.
  5. Peter M Fitzgerald

    Peter M Fitzgerald Screenwriter

    Mar 21, 1999
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    Real Name:
    Peter Fitzgerald
    Also, here in the USA, TVLAND has shown episodes of CORONET BLUE, THE MILLIONAIRE, MR. TERRIFIC, M-SQUAD, HAWAIIAN EYE and some others, albeit a few years ago (and some of these were not regular broadcasts, but rather stunt events, like "TVLAND Time Warp", and those weekly programming slots given over to winners of the "King of TVLAND" annual trivia contests).

    The prints of the few CORONET BLUE episodes I saw on TVLAND looked quite good, clean & colorful. One of them guest-starred a very young Richard Dreyfuss. Cool show, great theme song...I'd quite like these collected in a DVD set.

    The only time I saw anything of T.H.E. CAT (since its network run was before my time), was a brief clip played when Robert Loggia was the guest on LATER WITH BOB COSTAS on NBC late-night in the early 1990s. I've wanted to see regular episodes of it ever since (not sure yet if I'd want to own it on DVD).
  6. Joseph DeMartino

    Joseph DeMartino Lead Actor

    Jun 30, 1997
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    Real Name:
    Joseph DeMartino

    Even a failed show in the 60s and 70s, when the 3 major networks were basically it, probably had millions of viewers. Ratings "flops" then would be big hits now.

    And syndication is less about quality and popularity than it is about number of episodes. Most shows in syndicated reruns air five days a week, Monday through Friday. One season of a typical show is around 24 episodes. That means if all you have is one season of a show, you have to start over with episode one every five weeks. For most shows this means that the audience starts to drop off, because they've seen the shows so recently that they know the plots of the dramas and the punchlines of the comedies. Not enough time has passed for the details to fade and for the show to be "watchable" again to most people. By the third go-'round, starting at week 15, the ratings drop is even sharper. The station that bought the show is getting its butt kicked in that time slot and has to find something more appealing.

    This arithmetic is what made five years or 100 episodes the gold standard for what it takes to make it in the second-run syndication market. With that many episodes a local TV show or cable network can run a series enough times to make its money back on ad revenues before the ratings start to slip and it is time to "retire" the show in favor of something else. (The original Trek proved to be an exception to this rule, as to so many others in television, finding incredible success in syndication with only 79 episodes.)

    A show that is cancelled after 13, 22, 24 or 26 episodes have been finished (and perhaps fewer aired) had virtually no chance of ever being aired again until the arrival of niche cable outlets like The Sci-Fi Channel (which periodically runs "chain reactions" - back-to-back runs of short-lived series) or TVLand. But even those channels only pick the shows that they hear about most or think will draw the biggest audience in a truly mass medium like television. So most short-lived shows are never seen again, and remain as dead losses to the studios.

    And that's exactly why a second life on DVD for these shows is something the studios should consider. When a show fails the studio eats the entire loss. That means income from the syndication and other ancillary sales of a successful show not only has to pay back that show's original cost, but also a share of the money spent on all the other shows the studio produced that year that lasted 6 episodes or 13 and had the plug pulled. Apart from the kind of "stunt" programming mentioned above, these shows will never see the light of day again - and the studios will never see a dime of profit, or even break even on them.

    EXCEPT - the aging, affluent, baby-boomer generation has fond memories of many of these shows, and even the worst of them had millions of viewers. If the fixed upfront costs (mastering, digitizing, etc.) can be held to a reasonable level, there is no reason that shows like these couldn't be released on DVD in low-cost editions that could break even on sales in the thousands, not millions. (Look at the top TV sellers on DVD for 2003 as determined by Video Business magazine. The "blockbusters" were selling 300,000 units, not millions and millions. DVD is more like book publishing than either TV or movies in terms of numbers.)

    I think we could well see some of these shows on DVD eventually, especially if we contact the studios and ask. Because we represent the only chance of turning a loser into a winner. [​IMG]



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