Last week I talked about how TV was changing. One of the points that I brought up was the idea that one of the target audiences that TV executives wasn’t to target. There have always been people who want to watch crime procedurals or reality shows. There will always be room for comedies on TV to light the often hard days of the average person, but it is often family or family-like comedies that are successful. It wasn’t until recently that there was an influx of shows about science fiction concepts or comic book adaptations.
There have always been science fiction shows. That is something that has not changed, with millions of people who love shows like The Twilight Zone and many other science fiction shows. The difference is that recently those shows have been looking at a surge of new shows. If one just takes a look at the network shows with a science fiction or fantasy angle. Gotham, Sleepy Hollow, The Originals, Agents of SHIELD, Forever, Person of Interest, The Flash, Supernatural, Arrow, The 100, The Vampire Diaries, Grimm, Constantine, Once Upon A Time, Resurrection. That is 15 shows just on Network TV. It is a lot and it makes for a large amount of shows that people in the nerd land could potentially enjoy.
Now, I have no answers as to why this has actually changed. I can’t tell you definitively, but I can give you my ideas.One the success of comic book movies changed the game. For the past 15 years comic book movies have been steadily raking in money. Lots of money. In fact, most comic book movies would all at least make back their spending. There were no major bombs, just disappointments. But mixed in with those slight failures, there were massive successes like The Avengers. It signaled that there was an appeal that extended beyond niche audiences and actually captured the attention of traditional audiences.More importantly, those movies success allowed networks to realize that it wasn’t just eyes and attention these sort of shows could draw. However, it was reaching an audience that was also willing to go out of it’s way to buy merchandise. And depending on the new show, some of those shows could produce plenty of merchandise. The truth is, merchandise is really where any company makes money. The entire reason there was a Cars 2 was because the original Cars allowed for so much merchandise and it sold well. The idea that a network can not just benefit from eyes on a show and the advertising dollars that come with that, they also get a piece of that branding (at least for a time). Anything that can get more eyes on their show as it is on air is a benefit to the network.
Another reason is that while there are still more people tuning in for procedurals than to more nerdy shows, the audiences tend to skew older. What that means is they aren’t reach as many of the impressionable young people advertisers are hoping to reach. Not only that, but procedurals aren’t the shows that youth are clamoring on about on social media. Instead, social media, which tends to skew toward the advertising bracket that is coveted, is shouting about the smaller nerdier shows.
Like I said, I can’t explain why there is suddenly a large uptick of science fiction and fantasy shows, but I’ll enjoy them while they are here.