Population Statistic: Read. React. Repeat.
Sunday, July 13, 2021

I haven’t bothered to regularly watch a first-run network television show since “Seinfeld” — and that went off the air in 1998.

So I think it’s significant that I’ve been tuning in to “Swingtown” every Thursday night. It’s taken a decade, but primetime over-the-air fare has recaptured my eyeballs.

I dispute the assessment that it’s “quite brilliant”. In a lot of ways, it’s a typical by-the-numbers mainstream show, right down to the tentpole subplots: Something for the adults, something for the teenagers, something for the women, etc. (Ironically, the subplot that I should be relating to and reminiscing over — the coming-of-age of the pre-teeners during this era — misses my mark, because the kid characters are nearly 10 years older than me.) Also, the toning-down of the sex-and-drugs elements is a drag, leading to the inevitable speculation of what would have happened had it gotten more unfettered development as a Showtime or HBO series.

But it’s entertaining enough to be worth my time. On a personal level as a ’70s baby, I dig the garish nostalgia trip, unlike others — even though, as I hinted above, I can’t remember firsthand experience with the original sources for what would be the majority of the flashback-inducing material.

Since I like it, it’s typical, then, that this new show is in danger of disappearing, because advertisers apparently are hypersensitive to its me-generation themes of wife-swapping and pill-popping, to the point where they’re not buying ad time.

That underscores the larger problem facing both CBS and “Swingtown” and, indeed, the broadcast networks in general as they confront the aging of their average viewers. They want some fare that appeals to younger crowds, but when they come up with it, it often meets with disapproval from other parts of their audience — and scares advertisers.

It’s an issue for CBS in particular, which arguably reaches the broadest TV audience in the U.S. The network has succeeded largely on the strength of “procedural” crime dramas such as “CSI” and its spinoffs, “Without a Trace,” and “Criminal Minds.” But in the quest for youth, CBS has to veer toward something edgy. And that’s where the Tiffany Network has been hitting a wall.

As always, ratings ultimately speak louder than cranks from the Parents Television Council. If the audience grows, the advertisers will be hard-pressed to not follow. But there’s a limited window of opportunity for that, and so far, the viewer numbers are only fair.

It’s a shame. It’s a vicious death-cycle that prevents the networks from indulging in chancier material; and really, “Swingtown” isn’t pushing the envelope all that much. If this is too hot for CBS and the like to carry, then future’s looking bleak for broadcast TV.

by Costa Tsiokos, Sun 07/13/2008 11:33:23 PM
Category: Advert./Mktg., TV
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hello again
Plenty of NFL drama this offseason with Brett Favre’s big flip-flop on his retirement and the turmoil it’s causing for Green Bay.

The Packers can’t say they didn’t see this coming. In addition to the weeks of behind-the-scenes wrangling between the ex-player and the team, Favre’s tongue-in-cheek cameo in a weeks-old T-Mobile ad provided weird foreshadowing:

In the ad, people are saying “Hello” rather than “Goodbye” [in an otherwise farewell-appropriate situations], and most notably, Brett Favre is seen saying, “After 17 seasons, it’s time for me to say ‘Hello.’”

As flaky as the Big Cheese QB has been regarding his career future over the past couple of years, I wouldn’t be surprised if his work in that commercial triggered him to make this comeback.

by Costa Tsiokos, Sun 07/13/2008 09:29:18 PM
Category: Advert./Mktg., Football
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The essence of short-sightedness is that, as Americans are notoriously getting fatter and fatter, the brand-new Sprint Center in Kansas City should have been constructed with stadium seats that are narrower than average, all for the purposes of achieving NHL/NBA-level capacity.

But limited space for the downtown arena forced designers to make about 25 percent of the seats, especially in the corners, only 18 inches wide, a Sprint Center spokeswoman said. The rest in the bowl are 19 and 21 inches wide.

“Our goal was to build a world-class arena,” Shani Ross said. “We obviously wanted to go with what was the standard in the industry.”

But the Sprint Center had to be built on only 8½ acres, and that put space constraints on designers.

The arena’s official capacity is about 18,000, depending on specific event configuration. That’s the consensus bare minimum for a modern-day NHL or NBA barn. Subtract 4,500 — i.e., the cited one-fourth that are sub-width — and that leaves 13,500. Even if you squeeze back in a few more via creative spacing, and make them of sufficient width, the Sprint Center’s still probably got a capacity of around 16,000, tops. Granted, arena operators play loose with “official” capacity (the oldest and easiest trick in the book when it comes to hiding facility revenue streams), but still, this comes off like a shoehorning effort.

It’s sounding more and more like KC is a complete dead end for any hoops or pucks team looking for a new home, or for expansion purposes. If it’s too tight a fit for unfit patrons now, how’s it going to cope with the widening of the Midwestern ass over the next 20 years? Built-in arena obsolescence — by the seat of the pants.

by Costa Tsiokos, Sun 07/13/2008 07:51:09 PM
Category: SportsBiz
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