Question: I was just wondering how you think the improved quality of original cable shows affects the cancellation decisions of the networks? I have been eagerly anticipating the new season of Burn Notice and it got me to thinking. Do the networks even see cable shows as viable competition? Has the success of cable summer premieres changed the network opinion of new summer programming? I don't know how it all works out, but I'm sure they analyze and overanalyze the numbers. My thought is: What stops them from trying to push the more demographically specific shows (like Moonlight, which I didn't watch out of blind allegiance to Joss Whedon, which I know sounds stupid) during the summer? It seems there is more and more evidence that new summer shows can work, so it just makes sense to me that this should be tried (the sooner the better) before the audiences go somewhere else.
Answer: That's a lot of questions to consider, and I'm not sure the reasoning tracks from subject to subject. The broadcast and cable networks still have widely varying differences when it comes to summer programming philosophy, although CBS and NBC are at least trying something different by offering scripted series like Swingtown and Fear Itself (naturally, both airing against each other on Thursdays), which are both looked at as long shots. Cable, meanwhile, uses the summer to market signature shows like Burn Notice, The Closer, etc., and while some of these shows are of network quality (at least), in very few cases do they attract an audience that would translate into hit status if they aired on network TV. (The Closer probably comes the closest.) The networks still are unlikely to channel their resources into producing much in the way of expensive scripted programming during the summer months, when viewing levels are generally depressed. They're going to stick mainly with reality: some good, some dreadful. Do they look at cable as competition? Cumulatively, yes. But individually, not so much, in most cases. And I don't see what any of that has to do with cancellation decisions made during the regular season.