Sometimes, problems with a hit show or a collection of them can throw an entire television network into a rough patch. A poorly-thought out case of NetworkDecay can also trigger this.


[[folder:United States]]
* Creator/{{NBC}} has gone through ''two'' of these in its history.
** The first one was during Fred Silverman's tenure as president and CEO, 197881. Hot off of his success turning Creator/{{ABC}} into a titan in 197578, NBC brought him on hoping that lightning would strike twice. [[BeCarefulWhatYouWishFor What they got instead]] was a slew of gimmicky shows that were often canceled after only a season, with failures like ''{{Supertrain}}'' and ''Series/PinkLadyAndJeff'' being among the most notorious. The former hit ''Series/SaturdayNightLive'' went through its first DorkAge during the 1980-81 season, and was nearly canceled after the [[PrecisionFStrike F-bomb]] dropped on the Charlene Tilton episode. Morale at the network crumbled with each passing year spent in a distant third behind ABC and Creator/{{CBS}}; Creator/AlFranken ran the famous "Limo for the Lame-O" sketch on ''SNL'' skewering Silverman's handling of the network (which led to Franken getting sacked and, with it, the aforementioned DorkAge the following season), while the production studio and singers responsible for NBC's [[ "We're Proud as a Peacock!"]] campaign song recorded [[ a hilarious parody version]] mocking Silverman.\\
The final straw came when the US Olympic team boycotted the 1980 UsefulNotes/{{Moscow}} {{Olympic|Games}}s as a result of the SovietInvasionOfAfghanistan, resulting in an Eastern Bloc-dominated affair that few Americans were interested in watching -- very bad news for the network that had bet the farm on Olympic programming that year to turn its fortunes around. Between that and the financial troubles of NBC's corporate owners, the electronics company RCA, it was speculated that the network would be shut down or sold off in a matter of years in order to prevent RCA from going bankrupt.\\
Fortunately for NBC, in 1981 they ousted Silverman and brought in Grant Tinker (co-founder of MTM Enterprises) as the new chairman and CEO, and put Brandon Tartikoff in charge of programming duties. Together, despite a few false starts, Tinker and Tartikoff oversaw the beginning of a golden age for NBC that would last for nearly two decades, with the network dominating the ratings and, in particular, being responsible for many of the great American {{sitcom}}s of TheEighties and TheNineties.
** Alas, those two decades eventually came to an end. Tartikoff died unexpectedly in 1997, but many of the hit shows he greenlit continued for years after. Following the end of ''Series/{{Frasier}}'' and ''Series/{{Friends}}'', two of the network's last big sitcom hits, in 2004, NBC slipped from first to fourth as its new shows either failed to catch on or experienced {{Second Season Downfall}}s, and most of its attempts to make a {{reality TV}} hit like ''Series/{{Survivor}}'' or ''Series/AmericanIdol'' turned out to be failures. Its Thursday night comedy block was one of its few points of consistent acclaim, and even then, shows like ''Series/{{Community}}'' and ''Series/ThirtyRock'' struggled in the ratings.\\
The low point came in the 2009-10 season, when the [[StargateCity Vancouver]] Winter Olympics proved themselves to be a $250 million money pit for the network, and the failure of ''The Jay Leno Show'' left huge holes across a third of the network's PrimeTime schedule and caused a "Late Night War" between Leno and Creator/ConanOBrien that left TV fans with a lot of ill will against NBC's executives. Time will tell if the ouster of unpopular CEO Jeff Zucker in late 2010 will see the network get turned around, though things seem to be looking up; ''Series/TheVoice'' is a smash hit, and the network edged out ABC for third place at the end of the 2011-12 season.
* CBS went through a bad decade in TheNineties. For much of TheEighties, its shows had skewed much older than its competitors ABC, NBC, and (starting in 1987) Fox meaning that, while it was pulling in huge ratings from seniors and retirees with shows like ''Series/{{Dallas}}'' and ''Series/MurderSheWrote'', it wasn't hitting the lucrative 18-49 demographic that advertisers crave.[[note]] Interestingly, CBS had gone through this exact same problem about twenty years earlier, though Madison Avenue demography was not nearly as advanced or all-consuming back then. In the late-60's, CBS had a trio of rural-themed shows ''Series/TheBeverlyHillbillies'', ''Series/GreenAcres'', and ''Series/PetticoatJunction'' that got excellent ratings but that the suits considered "too old" and "too Country" for a modern network. So all three shows were cancelled and replaced with much less popular shows that no one remembers.[[/note]] This earned it the nickname "the network of the living dead", and by the early '90s [[{{Foreshadowing}} they were relying on their weekend sports coverage to stay in the black]].\\
You can guess how that went. In 1993, after CBS had already lost broadcast rights to NBA and MLB, Fox signed a contract with [[UsefulNotes/AmericanFootball the NFL]] that gave them the exclusive rights to air NFC games, a move that firmly established Fox as America's fourth network but utterly devastated CBS. A common joke claimed that CBS stood for [[FunWithAcronyms "Can't Broadcast Sports"]]. This was followed by Fox's plundering of CBS' sportscasters and, in 1994, through a contract with New World Communications and its merger with Argyle Television, poaching CBS affiliates in such key markets as [[UsefulNotes/DFWMetroplex Dallas-Fort Worth]], UsefulNotes/{{Atlanta}}, UsefulNotes/{{Milwaukee}} and UsefulNotes/{{Detroit}},[[note]] (NWC would be purchased outright by News Corporation, Fox's parent company, in 1997)[[/note]] forcing CBS to move to lower-tier UHF stations in those and other cities.[[note]] CBS was spared the UHF demotion in Dallas-Fort Worth but still had to move up the dial to Channel 11.[[/note]] CBS would start to recover in 2000 with the debut of ''Series/{{CSI}}'' and ''Series/{{Survivor}}'', its first mega-hits in a long while, and since then it's caught back up to Fox for the #1 spot on the Nielsen charts.
* Creator/{{ABC}} went through a DorkAge of its own from 2000-2004, when many new shows didn't draw much in the ratings. The beginning of this was when the network gave WolverinePublicity to ''Series/WhoWantsToBeAMillionaire'' for the 2000-01 season, saturating the schedule by airing the game show in prime time as many as ''five nights a week''. In addition, Michael Eisner, then CEO of parent company Creator/{{Disney}}, turned down JerryBruckheimer's pitch for ''Series/{{CSI}}'', which instead became a hit for Creator/{{CBS}} (see above), and many of the new shows that debuted on ABC in that period were hardly successful in terms of ratings. The network almost went bankrupt in this period, ultimately being spared after the debuts of ''Series/{{LOST}}'', ''Series/DesperateHousewives'', and ''Series/GreysAnatomy'' which boosted the network's ratings for the 2004-05 season.
** It has been said that ABC ''really'' needed those shows to succeed not just because of their precarious position at the time, but because, if they failed, there would have been no end to the jokes about the network being "lost" and "desperate".
* That painful time when Creator/CartoonNetwork attempted to put more emphasis on [[NetworkDecay live action programming]].
** Not even Creator/{{Toonami}} was immune to the DorkAge. The TOM 4 era was hated by a lot of fans for the [[UncannyValley TOM's]] [[YouDontLookLikeYou redesign]], and for things like the Absolution and [[SpaceshipGirl SARA]] being [[ChuckCunninghamSyndrome dropped without any indication of a reason]]. The general [[ScrewedByTheNetwork screwing]] of multiple shows reducing the block to nothing but reruns and ''Manga/{{Naruto}}'' led many to suspect ExecutiveMeddling, especially given that this happened in 2007, after the [[WesternAnimation/AquaTeenHungerForce Mooninite]] [[UnwittingInstigatorOfDoom bomb scare]] in Boston and the resulting management shake-ups at Creator/CartoonNetwork. Of course, then the block [[ScrewedByTheNetwork got taken]] [[{{Cancellation}} off]], and [[AlasPoorScrappy people mourned its passing]], no matter what they'd thought about the {{retool}}... But when Toonami [[{{Uncancelled}} came]] [[NetworkToTheRescue back]], [[CanonDiscontinuity it was with an updated version of the previous, well-liked TOM 3, with the Absolution back in space, and with no mention of the last few years of the original run]].
*** The TOM 4 era did indeed happen, as evidenced by [[ TOM 3.5 holding a conversation with TOM 4]] and alluding to... whatever it is that they've been up to since their "break." It's presumably a matter of getting the funding to properly tell said story ([[ which they plan on presenting in the form of an online comic]]). At any rate, Toonami is primarily focusing on the nostalgia of the pre-TOM 4 years, as evidenced by a switch/upgrade to TOM 5 (who resembles a sort of intermediate stage between [=TOMs=] 2 and 3) in April 2013, which coincided with [[TheBusCameBack the return of SARA]].
* Long-time fans consider Creator/{{MTV}} to be in a permanent DorkAge since its de-emphasis on music videos in favor of reality TV (which has been going on for so long that there is now an entire generation of teenagers who have never considered MTV a "music" channel).
* A lot of sports fans consider ESPN to be in one now, especially with its flagship program ''Series/SportsCenter''. The sports news show rose to great popularity in TheNineties due to its charismatic anchors that could deliver scores and highlights with a touch of witty banter. More recently though, the show seems to be more focused on trumpeting its hosts over the games they're supposed to be reporting on through endless "analysis" segments that last way too long for many viewers. What's more, the Skip Bayless and Stephen A Smiths they have on now come off as too egotistical and annoying in the eyes of many.
* Creator/{{Nickelodeon}}'s going through this right now, and has been since at least 2009. Over half of the channel's timeslots are filled with reruns of ''WesternAnimation/SpongebobSquarePants''. They put out poorly-made live-action shows that make the ''Disney Channel'' (see below) look like a bastion of quality programming though most agree that ''Series/iCarly'' at least was good. They gave {{Fred}} three poorly-received movies and a show that didn't even get a second season. They regularly reject quality pilots from talented creators, including turning down the chance to make ''WesternAnimation/AdventureTime'' into a full series. They have cancelled or ignored other good shows they have, yet gave multiple seasons to ''WesternAnimation/FanboyAndChumChum'' and ''WesternAnimation/SanjayAndCraig''. And they now trawl Website/YouTube for show ideas, like ''WesternAnimation/{{Breadwinners}}''.
** Exemplified with their treatment of ''WesternAnimation/AvatarTheLastAirbender''. The original show was a phenomenon, raking in views across all demographic groups and bringing in rave reviews and huge ratings for the network, to the point where they planned a Movie Adaptation for a show less than a decade old (though the less said about ''that'', the better). So how many episodes did Nickelodeon order for its sequel series ''WesternAnimation/LegendOfKorra'' initially? '''Twelve'''. Then, after the show proved to be successful, they ordered three more seasons... and proceeded to delay it time and time again until September 2013. And now they're booting it from the network entirely to make it internet only.
** Incidentally, this is also the point where they replaced their traditional iconic orange logo that could take any shape imaginable, with a generic "professional"-looking one.
* The DisneyChannel (and perhaps the company as a whole too) went through one of these for the better half of a decade, generally agreed to have begun with the premiere of ''Series/HannahMontana'' (which coincides with the end of ''WesternAnimation/KimPossible'') and to have concluded with the premiere of ''WesternAnimation/GravityFalls''. During this period, they shoved animation to the side in favor of cheap, mediocre, tween-oriented sitcoms and TV movies that acted as little more than vehicles for whatever pop-star they were trying to bring into the limelight. They hardly even used [[MickeyMouse their]] [[DonaldDuck own]] [[{{Goofy}} mascots]] anymore! Fortunately, starting in 2010, they began to go back to their roots by creating brand-new, well-received animated shows while also making new shorts starring Mickey.[[note]] Though admittedly, Disney has good legal reason to keep making shorts with the classic characters. Under current US copyright law (unless Disney manages to get it extended ''again''), ''Disney/SteamboatWillie'' will fall into the PublicDomain in 2024; the first Donald and Goofy cartoons won't be far behind. Once that happens, the only thing that will keep Disney in control of their characters is trademarks, which can last forever (unlike copyright), but only if the trademarks are maintained by, for instance, releasing new media with the characters.[[/note]]
* Creator/{{GSN}} (Game Show Network) went through this in 1997-98, when they temporarily lost the rights to nearly all Creator/MarkGoodson-Bill Todman game shows. While this did have the benefit of adding a whole slew of lesser-known shows, it also brought several critically-panned original shows (the nadir being ''Faux Pause'', which was a horribly unfunny {{MST}}ing of obscure game shows). The 1997-98 era earned the FanNickname "Dark Period". By 2000, they had regained most of the Goodson-Todman library, but lost the rights to popular ''Series/ThePriceIsRight'' reruns. In 2004, the network rebranded from "Game Show Network" to GSN, seemingly to move the phrase "game show" out of the way and allow for more reality shows and casino-based programming. Since then, the network's lineup has been in a near-constant state of flux, so whether or not it is still in a DorkAge is ultimately up to the individual viewer.

* Creator/{{CBC}} (the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation) has one of these every five years or so, always as a result of network/government bigwigs trying to draw in new audiences by making it more [[WereStillRelevantDammit "relevant"]]. This naturally turns-off long term fans (who watched CBC precisely because it doesn't typically trade in LowestCommonDenominator fare), while "mainstream" audiences get their entertainment from Creator/{{CTV}} and Creator/{{Global}}.

[[folder:United Kingdom]]
* ITV suffered a major Dork Age in the mid 2000s. After its attempt to launch a TV broadcasting service collapsed it seemed to completely lose its bottle. Once a channel known for its dramas, gameshows and current events, it slowly decayed into a channel associated with awful reality TV featuring z-list celebrities. This killed off its loyal older fans, and some disastrous attempts to capture the youth market showed it up as a poor attempt to imitate the much more successful Channel 4. This peaked when the channel that had once rivaled the BBC was reduced to broadcasting late night phone-in game shows associated with the filler channels. After years of failing, its only just managed to turn things around. The insanely successful X-Factor finally caught the younger market, and series of high quality dramas including DowntonAbbey drew back its older fanbase.
* The BBC was not above a Dork Age either. The late 70s to the early 80s were a tough time in Britain, and the BBC suffered too. Its reputation as a trusted news source was shaken with some blatant pandering to the current governments. Its budgets were getting tighter, with DoctorWho suffering its worst production and ratings in its history. Its output was also seen as stale and safe compared to the edgier ITV. At a time when its directors were seriously concerned that any signs of over spending or not appeasing the highly conservative government might get the channel privatized, its not that surprising.

* The channel RTL once aired its own fictional programming like a line of Sitcoms and was the first to air many summer blockbusters. Nowadays the only true fictional programming is the blockbuster on Sunday, US crime shows on Tuesday and Thursday and one or two self produced shows. All other shows they air are "news" programs covering what celebrities currently do, game, casting and other reality shows as well as scripted anthology shows in a documentary style chronicling what white trash families are doing.
* RTL II's focus on children programming like anime gradually shifted over the years to reality shows and scripted soap operas in the vain of JerseyShore. The daily kid shows were booted to a timeslot on sunday morning and now even this slot is going to be cancelled and replaced with rom-com films.