It wasn’t a total loss. This is a contrarian view on the season that will go down in the Nielsen annals as the lowest rated on record for the Big Four nets, but there was some good news to be found here and there, amid the wreckage.
For sure, the season-long stats on the 2007-08 campaign are pretty darn ugly, as Variety ratings guru Rick Kissell smartly and soberly details in this season wrap. But in actuality we didn’t have a season, we had two abbreviated seasons — pre- and post-strike. Writers Guild of America leaders were as strategic as Eisenhower and Marshall carving up the European theater in triggering the work stoppage to begin on Nov. 5, to ensure maximum impact on current production and pilot development.
Of course, most everything the WGA was fighting for in its 100 Days War has been at work in force — on steroids — in this topsy-turvy season: the increasing popularity of web streaming of programming and DVR time-shifted viewing, the increasing use of digital extensions of traditional programs to drive traffic to network-affiliated websites and to generate new revenue streams for our half-dozen favorite media congloms.
Beyond the fairness issue and the wonky oh-my-god-younger-generations-will-never-watch-TV-the-same-way-again considerations, let’s look at what the nets have to show for themselves program-wise out of the fall and spring mini seasons of ’07-’08.