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film criticism by maryann johanson | since 1997

question of the day: How has the new shape of prime-time changed your TV viewing?

An Associated Press story yesterday about the terrible performance of Jay Leno’s primetime show revealed some intriguing tidbits about how television viewing is changing in the United States:

With one-third of American TV households now equipped with DVRs like TiVo, the 10 p.m. hour is emerging as a popular time for people to catch up on what they missed earlier in the evening, or earlier in the week.

For example, many people watch CBS’ “CSI: Crime Scene Investigation” Thursdays at 9, tape ABC’s “Grey’s Anatomy” at the same time, then watch the medical soap an hour later, he said. They may tape “The Mentalist” (Thursday at 10) for later viewing. One casualty of growing DVR usage is that Friday nights, home of “Medium” and “Ugly Betty,” are becoming a TV wasteland because so many people are catching up on programs they missed during the week.

(via Breitbart)
Recently, too, reader Angelo emailed me wondering about whether immediate repeats of some shows — within a day or two of their original airing — was a reflection of cost-saving efforts on the part of the networks. I don’t think there’s any doubt about that, but in light of this news about DVRs, it does make me wonder whether those cost-saving measures are self-defeating: airing one show twice means fewer shows to produce (hence a savings in production costs) but also means, perhaps, fewer viewers overall than two different shows would attract.

So that’s what, apparently, primetime looks like these days: Multiple airings of new episodes of current shows, but also more timeshifting.

How has the new shape of prime-time changed your TV viewing? Is it similar to the days when a VCR helped you timeshift? Or does it feel qualitatively different somehow?

(If you have a suggestion for a QOTD, feel free to email me. Responses to this QOTD sent by email will be ignored; please post your responses here.)

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