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I Hate Linux

Friday, September 30, 2005

An open letter to the Sci Fi Channel

A number of years ago when I was in college, I would often have my TV on while working on homework or otherwise dinking around in my dorm room. While I didn't always watch it intently, it did provide a nice distraction from time to time as well as a bit of background noise to drown out the sounds of my typing up a report or puzzling over a math problem.

For a good portion of this time, it was your network that my TV was tuned to and on it I would get to see plenty of old and good reruns of various shows, as well as an ad here and there for an upcoming movie or TV series I might be interested in.

Thankfully... that is no more because of all of the new found free time I have thanks to you, let me explain...

Over the years I've noticed an odd increase in the number of B movies that you show on the weekends, and end up playing the same, repetitive promos for them during nearly every commercial break. If the first 17 aren't enough to sell me, I doubt the following 84 will be.

Add to that the repetitiveness of some of your sponsors commercials, most notably that for the Subaru B9 Tribeca with the song “Dust in the Wind” by Kansas, also often being seen at least once during each commercial break I have my TV tuned to your channel. It amazes me in fact that you have much in the way of sponsors with methods like that where your viewers quickly get to know, and get sick of the repetitiveness of the commercials and what they advertise.

What does any of this have to do with extra free time? Simple, with the recent end of the 'summer season' of Battlestar Galactica, Stargate SG1 and Stargate Atlantis... I no longer have a reason to watch your network until January when they return, clearing up the 4 hours on Friday nights where I would ordinary be watching these shows as well as Firefly.

Maybe I am just ignorant as to how the TV game works... however from where I sit, taking a long and seemingly arbitrary break in the middle of a popular series would seem to me to do nothing but hurt ratings as many viewers may simply forget to tune in when it at last returns.

Forgive me... but isn't this much of how you effectively killed Farscape years ago by having long breaks without any explanation or reason in the middle or end of the season, only to have the last 4 episodes of season 4-8 months later?

An episode list such as that found on epguids.com (http://epguides.com/Farscape/) indicates that you often times would quit airing Farscape in late August or early September, only to bring it back the following January, or in one case, April in the case of Season 3.

Granted you are not alone in this strategy and I do see some advantages to it, such as the time between the season finale and new season premier is far less than it would be if the entire season was aired back to back. I guess I tend to prefer the FOX method of shows like what was used in the recent season of the series 24 where every Monday night, at 8pm (Central time), for twenty-four weeks straight, one could expect the next episode to air without a two to thirty-two week delay.

A co-worker has come up with an interesting alternative to both of these methods... he doesn't watch much TV, instead he waits until the end of a season (or sometimes series) and either borrows or buys the DVD's of it so that he can watch it on his time, without the needless breaks.

From the sounds of it though... your network is being a bit smarter about Battlestar this time around compared to your airing of Season 1 which began months earlier in the UK on SkyOne and was available online almost immediately, long before you ever got around to airing it in the US. This time though, you are airing it first, no doubt causing SkyOne and Canada's Space Network to end up losing a bit of viewership (when they air it) because of the illicit downloading that has no doubt occurred of your broadcasts while they (viewers) wait for it to start to air in their own locals in January of 2006.

Again, I could be wrong, but it would seem that you, SkyOne and Canada's Space Network are really competing in a global market despite being local or regional networks. Just as we have seen in the music and movie industry, needless delays in bringing sought entertainment titles to market often results in early and wide spread piracy, potentially costing the legitimate distributors of the content financial losses.

On the odd chance that the reason you give for the delays is that the full season is still under development and not yet complete... why not wait to air until it's done?

In either case, rather than hoard, try to beat other networks to the punch or wait for production to complete... why not have relatively simultaneous releases (ie within a matter of days) so that the piracy market is marginalized, viewers don't have to put up with such extended and seemingly pointless delays?

Once again, thanks for all of the extra free time you are offering me because of your odd schedule decisions. I'll see you in January when my shows return, if I remember.

4 Comments:

  • Saw your post via technorati. THought you might be interested in this link if you haven't seen it already.
    It's a story on blogcritics.org. Apparently SciFi had only purchased 20 episodes after the first season. So this 10 episode season is over. January starts "season 3".

    Did they not try to pull this same shennanigan with Farscape's fourth season? Saying the episodes broadcasting the Jan following the cancellation were the promised fifth season?

    By Blogger Clair, at 12:50 PM  

  • Quite odd... places such as TV.com, epguide.com and others list the next episode, Resurrection Ship as the 11th episode of the second season... if Sci Fi plans to call it the start of Season 3... I am forced to wonder what Space, SkyOne, the pirates and DVD makers will call it.

    By Blogger Brendan, at 1:02 PM  

  • Well, that was according to Tricia, so I don't know what they're going to call it.

    By Blogger Clair, at 2:24 PM  

  • Farscape Episodes are really great for better entertainment. It has better set and visual effects. The Henson Company's creative genius really shines through and makes this the truly great series it is.

    By Blogger calvierude, at 10:46 PM  

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