As strange as it may seem now, there was a time when Saturday nights were considered reasonable TV real estate. Unfortunately for some out there, that said time is a little while ago. Thanks to an increase of viewing options, recordings, and streaming providers — not to mention the million or so things people can chose to do on weekends — there’s suddenly not anywhere near as good of a reason for any sort of network to take the gamble.
Should they? That’s a more interesting question.
For the past several years now, we’ve covered a couple of different British talent competitions in “Britain’s Got Talent” and “The X Factor” that each routinely draw millions of viewers — and that’s with Great Britain having a much smaller audience than here in America. The #1 Saturday show in the UK this fall is “Strictly Come Dancing,” which has drawn over 10 million viewers this fall on several occasions. If an American show ever did that (which it wouldn’t, given the abundance of options here), it’d be getting more viewers than any other regularly-scheduled, non-sports program on TV.
Could a Saturday show in America even pull off 10 million viewers? It’s not happening now, but we do actually think that it’s possible — but it would take a significant amount of time to invest in a changing culture. While the majority of young people are probably off doing other stuff on Saturday nights,, you also have families with younger children or older viewers potentially still around. You also have less competition. If you can configure the right show for this timeslot, we imagine that there is high potential for viewership.
We know it’d never happen, but can you imagine “Dancing with the Stars” on Saturdays? It would move the show away from “The Voice,” and allow it to have open season effectively on the night. While it may lose some viewers, it could carve out a niche there and become a tradition. If you are going to create a show on Saturdays, we do think it needs to be live. That’s the reason for the success of “Saturday Night Live,” and that would encourage people to actually stick around and watch it. It’d get the lion’s share of the press on the network for the day, as well, and open up spots to other programming.
What we do think is that if a network was so bold, finding an innovative concept that is family-friendly and live could be something that makes a big splash on the night. When you look at the ratings across the board for the Big Four networks, the majority of them are down with small exceptions here and there. With that, how much is there really to lose in giving something like this a shot? If it doesn’t work, you’re out some money and you don’t do it again. If it does, it changes the culture and you’ve created a new business for yourselves — sure, there is programming on Saturdays now, but it’s not notable. Are we really so different from Britain that we cannot have a successful show bridge the gap between Fridays and Sundays?
Tell us: Would you be open to watching a live show on primetime Saturday nights, and you think “Dancing with the Stars” would actually work there in America? Share below, and be sure to check out our recent winner rankings for the show if you haven’t already! (Photo: CBS.)
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