2010 Archives

The Changing Economics Of TV Reruns


The following appeared in the September 16, 2010, edition of National Public Radio. Derek Kompare, assistant professor of Cinema-Television in Meadows School of the Arts, provided expertise for this story.

September 16, 2010

By Jesse Baker

Until recently, Americans have pretty much proven themselves not only willing to watch just about anything on television, but eager to watch it again and again.

"It's a truism at this point that people can watch eight hours of Law & Order in a row, including episodes that they have already seen," says Emily Nussbaum, the television critic for New York magazine. "They aren't watching it because it's high quality. They are watching it because it's soothing and comforting."

But broadcast TV shows that once would have commanded a premium from basic cable channels as reruns — thus making more millions for the studios that created them — are now being squeezed aside.

Cable channels are building identities on such original shows as USA's Royal Pains and AMC's Mad Men. The reruns they do pick have to go through a rigorous selection service. . .

"These days there is certainly more cachet in developing original series, and I think ultimately they are seeking more profit for that too," says Derek Kompare, author of Rerun Nation: How Repeats Invented American Television and an assistant professor in the Meadows School of the Arts at Southern Methodist University.

Read the full story.

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