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Dork Age / Television Networks

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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 Network Decay can also trigger this.

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  • NBC has gone through two (four counting the news and sports divisions) of these in its history.
    • The first one was during Fred Silverman's tenure as president and CEO, 1978–81. Hot off of his success turning ABC into a titan in 1975–78, NBC brought him on hoping that lightning would strike twice. What they got instead was a slew of gimmicky shows that were often canceled after only a season, with Supertrain and Pink Lady and Jeff being among the most notorious (both of these shows are listed in What Were They Thinking? The 100 Dumbest Events in Television History, which takes several additional shots at Silverman). The former hit Saturday Night Live went through its first Dork Age during the 1980-81 season, and was nearly canceled after the 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 CBS; Al Franken 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 Dork Age the following season), while the production studio and singers responsible for NBC's "We're Proud as a Peacock!" campaign song recorded a parody version mocking Silverman, something he didn't take well. The final straw came when the US Olympic team boycotted the 1980 Moscow Olympics as a result of the Soviet Invasion of Afghanistan, 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 sitcoms of The '80s and The '90s. In fact, when General Electric bought out RCA in 1986, it was mainly to acquire NBC, which by then was one of the last profitable divisions of a company that was otherwise circling the drain.
    • What came after those two decades, though, would prove to be a dork age of its own. Tartikoff died unexpectedly in 1997, but many of the hit shows he greenlit continued for years after. However, following the end of Frasier and 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 Downfalls, and most of its attempts to make a reality TV hit like Survivor or American Idol turned out to be failures. Its Thursday night comedy blocknote  was one of its few points of consistent acclaim, and even then, shows like Community and 30 Rock struggled in the ratings. The low point came in the 2009-10 season, when the 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 Prime Time schedule and caused a "Late Night War" between Leno and Conan O'Brien that left TV fans with a lot of ill will against NBC's executives. The ouster of unpopular CEO Jeff Zucker in late 2010 saw the network finally start to turn itself around. The Voice premiered in the 2010-11 season and became a smash hit (though it was only one of two freshman series that season to get renewednote ), and the network edged out ABC for third place at the end of the 2011-12 season. After equaling that rank the following season, they surged all the way back to number one in the 2013-14 season on the back of the Winter Olympics and several new hits, particularly The Blacklist, Chicago Fire, and its spinoff Chicago P.D.. This dominance continued through the 2014-15 season even as their Thursday night comedy block has completely collapsed and been pulled (in favor of using The Blacklist to attack ABC's dominant Shonda Rhimes trio on the night). Today, they run neck-and-neck with CBS as the #1 network, with NBC claiming the 18-49 demographic and CBS claiming the most total viewers.
    • Even when NBC's entertainment programming showed a decline, its broadcast news programs (Today, NBC Nightly News, and Meet the Press) remained dominant at the close of The 2000s, while MSNBC showed impressive gains on cable. However, a series of increasingly disastrous PR flaps at the start of The New '10s damaged the brand of NBC News and ended their two-decade-long ratings streak. It started with Ann Curry's lackluster tenure and botched firing as co-host of Today, and continued with the similarly controversial firings of Keith Olbermann, David Gregory, and Melissa Harris-Perry, which led to MSNBC constantly changing its schedule to a ridiculous degree (Ed Schultz saw his show change time slots five times in four years before he joined Russia Today). Nightly News anchor Brian Williams getting caught embellishing his experiences covering the Iraq War didn't help matters, resulting in his replacement by then-weekend anchor Lester Holt. Ratings began to rebound with NBC News veteran Andy Lack returning as president, helped by the fact that Holt is the first African-American news anchor for a weekday network nightly newscast, but that was offset by the controversial hire of ex-Fox News host Megyn Kelly and the subsequent bombing of her Sunday night newsmagazine, relegating her to hosting the 9:00 a.m. hour of Today later that year.note  Perhaps their biggest lows of the new tens, however, came when they got caught in the crosshairs of the Weinstein effect. First, there was the revelation NBC News refused to publish Ronan Farrow's initial findings on Harvey Weinstein's history of sexual assault, then longtime Today staple Matt Lauer was fired for sexual misconduct, an action that Lauer had reportedly performed on other women for decades, and then came a massive exposé from The Daily Beast outlining Lack's history of letting accused sexual predators thrive at NBC and other companies he worked at for decades. The public relations disaster stemming from the scandals led to persistent rumors of Lack's potential ouster. By then, NBC News' ratings gains began to reverse, losing audiences to rivals ABC News and CBS News; Nightly News mostly ranks second behind ABC World News as of May 2019. Additionally, Kelly found herself out of a job after only a year-and-a-half with the network following a controversial segment where she defended Blackface Halloween costumes. Lack would ultimately get the boot in May 2020 as part of a major NBCUniversal restructuring.
    • The 2000s were undoubtedly the worst period for NBC's sports division. It began back in 1998, when NBC citing their inability to come to terms with the extraordinarily rising costs, declined to renew their contract with the National Football League's American Football Conference, allowing CBS to return to NFL broadcasting after a four-year spell. In 2001, NBC tried to fill the void that the NFL left by partnering with WWE to create the XFL. Unfortunately, within weeks, the football league set a record for the lowest primetime ratings ever on a major network. Ultimately, NBC's loss for the 10-week season was around $35 million. Two years later, NBC tried to fill the NFL void again by partnering with the Arena Football League. While NBC didn't have to pay any rights fees to broadcast the Arena Football League, the ratings were none the less, minuscule with the average rating around 1.00 for the four-year run. And in 2008, NBC renewed its TV contract with Notre Dame football. The downside was that at the time, the Irish had only finished a season ranked 10th or higher just 3 times in the 19 years they've been on NBC. It was also during the 2000s, that NBC lost the broadcast rights for Major League Baseball to Fox following the 2000 season note , the National Basketball Association to ABC/ESPN following the 2001-02 season, NASCAR to ABC/ESPN following the 2006 season, and the Belmont Stakes to ABC/ESPN starting in 2006. By 2003-04, NBC was the only one of the four major American networks to not have any of the four major North American professional team sports on its schedule. Curiously, NBC paid $820 million for the 2010 Winter Olympicsnote  whereas by 2010, Major League Baseball received about $670 million a year in TV rights fees for the entire season and the NBA received about $930 million a year. To add insult to injury, NBC didn't get around to launching its own sports website site until the tail end of 2006. While NBC did obtain the rights to the National Hockey League from ABC, their initial coverage was delayed by a year due to the 2004–05 NHL lockout, which wound up cancelling the entire regular season and playoffs. It wasn't until NBC regained the NFL rights via the Sunday night package (formally held by ESPN) that they slowly started to return to prominence.
  • CBS
    • The channel as a whole went through a bad decade in The '90s. For much of The '80s, 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 Dallas and Murder, She Wrote, it wasn't hitting the lucrative 18-49 demographic that advertisers crave. note  This earned it the nickname "the network of the living dead", and by the early '90s 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 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 "Can't Broadcast Sports"; despite this, though, CBS managed to maintain their NASCAR contracts, and with the sport becoming hugely popular in the 90s, this was a lifesaver, especially since they held the exclusive rights to the Daytona 500 (having done so since 1979, and doing so until 2000). 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 Dallas-Fort Worth, Atlanta, Milwaukee and Detroit,note  forcing CBS to move to lower-tier UHF stations in those and other cities.note  CBS would start to recover in 2000 with the debut of CSI and Survivor, its first mega-hits in a long while, and since then, it's been a regular contender for the #1 spot on the Nielsen charts. Of course, it has since gone back to being "the network of the living dead," with those series largely appealing to older viewers now, but that's less of an issue these days. Their biggest shows right now seem to be anything created by Chuck Lorre, primarily The Big Bang Theory, which premiered in 2007 and has become a highly-popular Long Runner that later spawned a spin-off prequel focusing on the childhood of Breakout Character Sheldon Cooper.
    • Another Dork Age seems to be on the horizon for CBS as of The New '10s. With The Big Bang Theory ending with its 12th season, CBS is left without its biggest ratings hit and will largely consist of drama series that are outside of the coveted 18-49 demographic. Attempts at newer sitcoms, most notably Kevin Can Wait, The Crazy Ones, Young Sheldon, an ill-fated revival of Murphy Brown, and Mom, have either failed or seen its ratings under-perform against Big Bang, portending a difficult period for CBS post-Big Bang. Not helping was that what was intended to be their next reality TV hit, The World's Best, got massive amounts of hype from the network, debuted strong with viewers due to airing right after Super Bowl LIII (more on that below), only for ratings to catastrophically collapse within days. Additionally, its long-respected news division (which got out of a dork age of its own following the Killian documents controversy, which saw Dan Rather lose his longtime gig as CBS Evening News host) is beginning to show strain thanks to Scott Pelley getting replaced as CBS Evening News anchor by the more-younger Jeff Glor due to sagging ratings. Glor's hiring did almost nothing to reverse the declines, and the network replaced him with Norah O'Donnell after just a year and a half on the job. Further tarnishing the network are exposés, stemming from 60 Minutes correspondent Charlie Rose being ousted following sexual harassment allegations in the wake of the #MeToo movement, alleging years of institutional sexual misconduct at the network, perpetuated by longtime CEO of CBS Corporation Les Moonves, who himself was the target of sexual assault allegations by way of a New Yorker report from Ronan Farrow, the same journalist who first brought attention to Harvey Weinstein's sexual assault scandal that launched #MeToo, and was later terminated.

      The turmoil has also threatened CBS's sports division, with Super Bowl LIII's (Los Angeles Rams vs. New England Patriots) mediocre event (the Patriots scored the sole touchdown in the whole game during the fourth quarter) and a critically-panned halftime show with Maroon 5 resulting in the lowest-rated Super Bowl broadcast since Super Bowl XLIInote . Their biggest loss, though, came later that year when CBS opted not to continue its relationship with the Southeastern Conference football division, whose rights had been one of CBS Sports' golden geese for more than 20 years, when their contract ended in 2023, allowing ESPN/ABC to scoop up their package and fully consolidate their grasp on the conference's media rights.

      The Dork Age fully began in 2020, right after former parent Viacom re-merged with CBS. With the COVID-19 Pandemic resulting in the cancellation of the advertising cash cow March Madness basketball tournament, the postponement of many of their originals and Tom Brady leaving the New England Patriots for the NFC's Tampa Bay Buccaneers causing a viewership drop for AFC football, CBS fell to a horrific fourth place in the 18-49 demographic for the year, a 30% drop from the year prior even as the network was still the most watched overall.
  • ABC:
    • The channel went through a Dork Age 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 Wolverine Publicity to Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? 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 Disney, turned down Jerry Bruckheimer's pitch for CSI, which instead became a hit for CBS, and many of the new shows that debuted on ABC in that period were hardly successful in terms of ratings (note that Disney as a whole was in a Dork Age at the time, with traditional 2D animation quickly falling to Pixar and Dreamworks, Disneyland being turned into what amounted to a shopping mall while maintenance suffered, and a general decline in customer service in favor of profit). The network fell to fourth place and almost went bankrupt in this period (and was part of the reason behind Eisner being replace with Bob Iger), ultimately being spared by the debuts of Lost, Desperate Housewives, and Grey's Anatomy, which boosted the network's ratings to second place for the 2004-05 season. Since then, the network has been a reliable third place finisher, an unspectacular but comfortable position, only falling to fourth place several times (in the 2011-12 season, when NBC was beginning to mount its comeback but before Fox started to seriously collapse, and during the 2018-19 and 2019-20 seasons, when ABC's schedule consisted mostly of past holdovers and when the network was undergoing management shifts following its parent company's buyout of 20th Century Fox, not to mention the conclusion of network darling Modern Family, though ABC World News managed to overtake NBC Nightly News as the top nightly newscast nationally, so not a complete loss). While it only has a few megahits (and virtually none from people not named Shonda Rhimes), it does have a large stable of fairly modest hits with devoted fanbases.
    • For the 2009-2010 prime time broadcast season, ABC saw its average viewership come in third, behind CBS and Fox, according to Nielsen. More crucial, perhaps, is its viewership in the demographic coveted by advertisers — people between the ages of 18 and 49. ABC nabbed an average of 2.692 million viewers. This was coupled with a then recent spate of executive turnover — ABC news chief David Westin had indicated he would leave by the end of 2010, and the network had already parted ways with both Stephen McPherson, the man who devised the 2010-11 fall schedule, and Michael Benson, one of the executives who was supposed to market its then new shows to the masses. Under Anne Sweeney's watch, ABC no longer understood the creation of prime time programming or the unique relationship with affiliate stations. Cable and satellite MSO's were loosely defined as affiliates. That's dramatically different and less synergistic than that between a broadcast network and an affiliated station. Both create content, have unique brands and specific relationships with viewers. Meanwhile, Sweeney easily embraced the rationale for taking National Football League games off ABC in 2005 for the benefit of ESPN. While this makes financial sense, when isolated, it hurt ABC's ability to promote new programming and train large younger audiences to tune to ABC stations.
  • Fox fell into one during the 2011-12 season. Coming off a long run of success in the '00s, they attempted to juice a fall lineup that was getting fairly long in the tooth with an American version of The X Factor, which initially provided a solid boost but collapsed spectacularly over the next two seasons before it was canceled in 2013. More distressingly, Simon Cowell's involvement in The X-Factor led to his departure from American Idol, which is often regarded as the point of no return for the latter show after a few years of stagnant, wobbly ratings; by the time The X-Factor was canceled, Idol had gone from Fox's big tentpole hit and TV's "Death Star" to a marginal player that was overshadowed by NBC's The Voice, eventually singing its last note in 2016 (though this later proved to be a hiatus, as the series made a Channel Hop to ABC in 2018). Fox has also been severely harmed by their inability to develop new major scripted hits, generally putting out either Acclaimed Flops like Enlisted and Surviving Jack, "limited series" like The Following and Sleepy Hollow that burn bright in season one only to flame out when audiences realize that these aren't Mini Series but instead multi-season shows with reduced episode orders, cult shows like Brooklyn Nine-Nine and The Mindy Project that burnish the network's reputation with critics but don't bring appreciable ratings boosts, or reviled duds like The Mob Doctor, Red Band Society, dads, and Mulaney.

    The effects of these problems really began to show during the network's dramatic collapse between 2012 and 2014, falling to third place in the 2012-13 season (and second in the 18-49 demographic that had long been its bread and butter) and only salvaging second place in 2013-14 because of the Super Bowl; without that, and with ratings black holes on practically every night of the schedule, Fox was hitting record ratings lows. In the 2014-15 season, they fell to fourth place in both total ratings and in the 18-49 demographic, with Gotham and the monster hit Empire as the only bright spots.
    • Their cable sports properties also declined in The New '10s. Parent company News Corp. bulldozed motorsports-centric niche channel Speed in favor of broad-skewing Fox Sports 1note , only for FS1 to suffer big ratings drops from Speed, with only UFC, baseball, and the remaining motorsports programming consistently breaking six figures — even Big East Basketball, a reliable million-plus breaker for ESPN, couldn't do anything for Fox, sometimes going below 10,000 viewers when the telecasts got shunted over to Fox Sports 2. note  Speaking of FS2, it replaced the even more niche extreme sports-centric Fuel, only to collapse even more dramatically from Fuel's numbers than FS1 has from Speed's. It almost goes without saying that Fox has alienated die-hard motorsports and extreme sports fans with the changes, as well as NASCAR fans (by far the most broad-skewing of any U.S. motorsports association) with things like the Live but Delayed approach they took to the circuit's new knockout qualifying format in 2014 and the tendency to shunt over inconveniently scheduled practice and even qualifying sessions to FS2, which is located on a higher cable tier than FS1 (if your provider even carries the net). Keep in mind that television ratings have been falling for NASCAR all across the board, not just on Fox, which can be blamed on the massive drop in popularity after the death of Dale Earnhardt and the introduction of the Car of Tomorrow, not to mention a wide array of rule changes that made it seem like the sanctioning body was willfully manipulating every aspect of the racing product in favor of certain drivers.
    • By 2018, many began questioning the future of Fox as the network took a number of dramatic actions to end the Dork Age. The most significant action was the decision to exit television production entirely by including its television production unit with the 21st Century Fox assets purchased by Disney, and deciding to focus on ordering shows from studios not attached to a particular network and taking an ownership stake in said shows. In addition, the network is broadening its scale in non-scripted and sports programming, not renewing their contract with Ultimate Fighting Championship due to poor ratings, acquiring the rights to NFL Thursday Night Football for four years and replacing USA Network as the broadcasting home for WWE SmackDown beginning October 2019. One of the first new series in this strategy — Fox Entertainment's The Masked Singer — wound up becoming a surprise hit for the network in early-2019. Beyond that, the network has more or less begun to slowly phase out live-action scripted programming in favor of more animated shows, limited series, reality and sports programs. Even their animated mainstays longevity has been put into question, with Disney now owning most of those shows.
  • The CW is a curious example, as it was a network born from a Dork Age that ultimately destroyed one of its parent networks, The WB. Starting around 2003, The WB attempted to broaden its base beyond its core market of teenagers and college-age young adults; it was during this time that they retired the Michigan J. Frog mascot and canceled hit shows like Angel and Dawson's Creek, replacing them with programs that crashed and burned in the ratings. The only hits that The WB produced post-2003 were Beauty and the Geek, One Tree Hill, and Supernatural, all of which made the jump to The CW — and all of which, not coincidentally, were aimed at the 18-24 demographic that The WB was trying to break away from. By the end of 2005, The WB had fallen behind not only UPN, but also Univision, which is notably a Spanish-language network aimed at only a small subset of the population.

    The Dork Age continued after The WB merged with UPN (the result of a corporate shakeup at Viacom) in 2006 to form The CW. For fans of Gilmore Girls, Veronica Mars, Everybody Hates Chris, Smallville... well, it's easier to list the CW programs that weren't sidelined as the network focused itself around (often short-lived) reality shows and vapid 'rich kids living the good life' dramas designed to cash in on Gossip Girl and 90210, two of the network's breakout hits. More distressingly, The WB's absorption of UPN to create The CW was a short-term Genre-Killer for African-American-led programming on network television after Everybody Hates Chris finished its run, as UPN, Chris' former network, had been one of the main homes for such, and The CW was interested in more lucrative demographics. The network turned itself around starting in 2012, after unpopular network head Dawn Ostroff stepped down, by gunning for the position of 'the geek network'. During this time, they premiered new sci-fi and fantasy shows like Arrow, Beauty and the Beast (2012), iZombie, and The 100 and gave renewed focus to genre hits like Supernatural and The Vampire Diaries, and beyond sci-fi and fantasy, they also premiered shows like Jane the Virgin and a revival of Whose Line Is It Anyway? that helped boost their critical reputation. While it's still not a ratings-winner, The CW today has a devoted fanbase, and its embrace of online platforms to a greater degree than its bigger rivals has proven very fruitful.
  • A lot of sports fans consider ESPN to be in one now, especially with its flagship program SportsCenter. The sports news show rose to great popularity in The '90s due to its charismatic anchors that could deliver scores and highlights with a touch of witty banter. (It in turn has decimated the various attempts by other networks to have their own flagship highlights/news show, especially the various Fox Sports shows— Fox Sports News/National Sports Report, (FSN) Final Score, and most recently Fox Sports Live, which even recruited the hosts of the Canadian SportsCentre.) Unfortunately, the rise of social media in the late 2000s allowed sports fans to see the biggest highlights as soon as they happened, making it unnecessary for them to tune into the show to ensure they saw the best plays of the night. Additionally, the network began to focus most of its SportsCenter segments and programming around the sports and leagues that they have the rights to air games to (the NFL, NBA, college football, etc) which caused viewers who felt their preferred sport/team was being ignored to tune out. Later still, the show's analysis and discussion segments began to slip away from focusing on strategy and performances to bits focusing on athletes' personal issues and off the field/court/diamond controversies that last way too long for many viewers. What's more, some of the hosts they have now, such as Stephen A. Smith and Max Kellerman, come off as too egotistical and provocative for viewers looking for meaningful sports insights rather than "hot takes".

    ESPN has also been among the most high-profile victims of the growing problems facing the cable TV industry due to competition from the internet, as a massive share of its operating budget came from the high fees it charged to cable carriers to get it onto millions of basic cable subscriptions — and with the growing trend of both cord-cutters and young people not getting cable subscriptions in the first place, those critical numbers are dropping. Due to falling revenue and subscriptions, ESPN laid off a number of on-air staff in 2015 and shuttered its popular sports/culture website Grantland, and announced a second round of on-air talent layoffs in 2017.
  • GSN (Game Show Network) went through this in 1997-98, when they temporarily lost the rights to nearly all Mark Goodson-Bill Todman game shows. While this did have the benefit of adding a whole slew of lesser-known shows they had the rights to via their Sony Pictures ownership, it also brought several critically-panned original shows (the nadir being Faux Pause, which was a horribly unfunny MSTing of obscure game shows). The 1997-98 era earned the Fan Nickname "Dark Period". By 2000, they had regained most of the Goodson-Todman library, but lost the rights to popular The Price Is Right 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 Dork Age is ultimately up to the individual viewer.
  • BBC America has been in one ever since 2016 when AMC bought out half the network, with BBC Worldwide still holding the controlling interest. Actual British programs which are supposed to be the network's main selling point are becoming more scarce outside the network's flagship show Doctor Who, Top Gear, Graham Norton, and David Attenborough nature films. The main weekday is an endless parade of Star Trek, CSI: Miami,The X-Files reruns, and whatever movie by a British director or featuring a British cast the network is obsessed with that week. Compare this to the network's peak at the mid 2000's which featured a steady stream of British imports like Being Human, Skins, Law & Order: UK, The Hour, and Luther all of which were well-received by audiences and were frequently repeated, as well as simulcasts of BBC World News (indeed, nowadays the BBC just distributes their BBC World News channel to cable providers). This has coincided with the rising of online streaming: as production costs rise more and more British networks like the BBC are sharing costs with services like Netflix, and Amazon Prime so the programs are forced to be online exclusives rather than be shown on BBC America like they would in the past.
  • Nickelodeon:
    • The period that lasted from around 2007 to 2015, though it did feature some hits, is generally seen as the channel's lowest point. Over half of the channel's timeslots were filled with reruns of SpongeBob SquarePants, which was widely considered to be in the middle of its own dork age. They started putting out live-action shows that many compared to Disney Channel's programming – with only ICarly receiving any praise, though Big Time Rush and Victorious were mostly well-liked; their other live action shows were either widely panned, like Henry Danger, or barely got off the ground, like Supah Ninjas. They gave Fred three poorly-received movies and a show that didn't even get a second season, and gave star Lucas Cruikshank another show that bombed just as badly. They regularly rejected promising pilots from talented creators, including turning down the chance to make, with frequent collaborator Frederator Studios, Adventure Time into a full series, which was later picked up by Cartoon Network and went on to become a huge success for them (and help end their own dork age). They gave Avatar: The Last Airbender, one of their biggest hits, a sequel miniseries titled The Legend of Korra, then expanded it to a full 52 episode series, only to make it online exclusive partway through Book 3, often considered the show's creative high point, no less. It also didn't help that they gained a nasty reputation for relegating any new animated shows they received that doesn't become a massive success to low-rated spin-off channel Nicktoons, usually after only a month or two of their premiere on Nickelodeon, virtually guaranteeing their eventual cancellations. They repeatedly showed themselves to be out of touch with what audiences were interested at the time (compared to rival networks Disney XD and Cartoon Network), resulting in many of their new shows being criticized for lacking substance in comparison to animated shows on said rival networks. Even their live-action content was, by the middle of the decade, considered vastly inferior to Disney Channel's output. During several points in this period, Nickelodeon's ratings plummeted to lows that hadn't been seen on the network since the early 80s. 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 as the splat logo apparently doesn't look good on a business cardnote , and lost longtime exec Majorie Cohn, who defected to DreamWorks Animation, something that really hurt the network.
    • Whether or not the network is still in a Dork Age is up for debate, as the general consensus is that Nickelodeon has been improving itself since 2016 following the premiere of Harvey Beaks and The Loud House. Nevertheless, complaints still remain—and it's still agreed the network has done little to counter its reputation of poorly treating animated shows if they aren't immediate smash hits like SpongeBob (or The Loud House, which managed to become a surprising exception). Harvey Beaks was infamously punted around to various timeslots and then barely promoted, due to it not being the instant ratings success Nick wanted it to be in spite of acclaim, and then was very quietly cancelled, much to the surprise and disappointment of creator C.H. Greenblatt; it didn't help that, when C.H. talked about his disappointment regarding the show's treatment (despite saying he had no issues with the Animation Studio and its personnel there), Nick forced him to apologize and delete his comments. This was later followed by the network heavily delaying two hyped revival specials, Rocko's Modern Life: Static Cling and Invader Zim: Enter the Florpus, and halting production and laying off crew members on Glitch Techs before the show even premiered, before all three (and Pinky Malinky) were eventually added to Netflix. Thankfully, things seem to have settled with the premiere of It's Pony, which has managed to be both well-reviewed and well-promoted in spite of not doing amazingly ratings-wise.
    • Depending on whom you ask, Herb Scannell's tenure as President of Nickelodeon from the late '90s to mid 2000s was its own dork age. It was during this period in which Nickelodeon canceled a lot of their '90s programming, phased out the game shows, ran the Rugrats franchise to the ground, converted SNICK into SNICK House, revamped All That with an all-new cast, closed down Nickelodeon Studios in Orlando, and oversaturated the network with Klasky-Csupo shows, resulting in that company going through a lengthy period of dormancy when Nickelodeon ended their ties with them.
  • Disney Channel:
    • The channel went through one of these during the mid-2000s, generally agreed to have begun with the premiere of Hannah Montana (which coincides with the end of Kim Possible) and to have concluded with the premiere of Phineas and Ferb. The animated shows were sidelined in favor of a focus on the teenybopper demographic; even Mickey Mouse and the gang had a minor presence. This alienated Disney Channel's other demographics. It doesn't help that Disney in general was going through some rough times of their own. Fortunately, Phineas and Ferb helped to broaden the appeal of the channel. Interestingly, the shows such as That's So Raven and its sequel Cory in the House, The Suite Life of Zack and Cody and its sequel The Suite Life on Deck, Wizards of Waverly Place, and Hannah Montana are usually exempt from the Dork Age, with all of the aforementioned shows having large fanbases, especially now due to nostalgia.
    • Their next Dork Age began with Shake it Up in 2010. Most people believe the sitcoms beforehand, like Wizards of Waverly Place, were well-written Guilty Pleasures that were fun to watch. By the time Shake It Up! premiered, however, the new sitcoms were seen as dumb as opposed to funny with the only general-type sitcoms to near unanimously achieve praise being low-concept shows like Girl Meets World, Liv and Maddie, and Good Luck Charlie. Pretty soon, the sitcoms began swallowing the lineup, as Disney adopted an attitude of "Disney Channel is for girls and Disney XDnote  is for boys". As another consequence of this, much of their much more acclaimed animated lineup, like Gravity Falls and Wander over Yonder, wound up being shifted over to Disney XD. Wander Over Yonder is an especially sore spot, considering that its move to Disney XD played a part in its cancellation (unlike Gravity Falls which ended because the creator wanted it to); Disney XD is on less cable providers than Disney Channel is, thus dooming the show to lower ratings. Wander's cancellation before its Myth Arc could even begin led many fans to write a petition to continue the series. Several other animated shows like Kick Buttowski: Suburban Daredevil, Motorcity, and Randy Cunningham: 9th Grade Ninja were exclusive to XD and thus never able to gain any widespread exposure. While Disney Channel's live-action content was being panned (although not as badly is Nickelodeon's), XD's shows, like Lab Rats and Mighty Med, were getting better reception. Fortunately, Disney Channel has learned from XD's success and quickly turned around their misfortunes; they have since added more animated series to their lineup, and have debuted the well-received series K.C. Undercover, Stuck in the Middle, and Andi Mack, the former of which takes more influence from XD's shows and the latter two of which eschew normal Disney Channel series elements like a Laugh Track.
  • Cartoon Network has currently had two; one from approximately 2007-2010, the other having started in 2015 and only starting to end in 2019:
    • The first one was the first half of tenure of Stuart Snyder as CEO of the channel, a period roughly synonymous with the "Fall" and "Nood" eras of bumpers note . This period saw a push towards live-action shows on a channel that had built its very name on being void of them, with CN Real being generally regarded as the absolute low point of this trend. Toonami practically deserves a bullet point of its own. The TOM 4 era was hated by a lot of fans for TOM's redesign, the Absolution and SARA being dropped without any indication as to why, and the block's shows almost exclusively consisted of re-runs, with the block's biggest draw, Naruto, being in the middle of its lengthy filler arc. Then it was announced on September 20, 2008 that the 11 year long programming block would be ending that very same day, which upset many fans. Though this period did see some hits, they are viewed as exceptions rather than the rule, and Snyder himself became the face of everything that went wrong. The "CHECK it" era was a return to form that saw the debut of many of Cartoon Network's biggest hits, Toonami would return in 2012 as a part of the [adult swim] block, and Snyder himself would eventually be forgiven by the fanbase.
    • When Christina Miller came to power, she was welcomed with open arms... only for her tenure to see yet another Dork Age. First by reportedly forcing some of the more mature shows to tone down their content, despite Cartoon Network being well-loved for not being afraid for pushing the envelope compared to other kids' channels, and then turning the highly-polarizing but ratings success Teen Titans Go! into the flagship show of the channel, while the DC Nation block it was once a part of was unceremoniously cancelled in 2014 with Beware the Batman, Green Lantern: The Animated Series, and Young Justice joining it. Then in 2015, their adoration for Teen Titans Go! led to the show dominating the airtime, brushing other hits to the side like Adventure Time, Regular Show, and Sleeper Hit Steven Universe. Advertisements calling it "Your New Favorite Show", and Cartoon Network using Teen Titans Go! as a template for its other reboots, The Powerpuff Girls (2016), Ben 10 (2016), and ThunderCats Roar, have only fanned the flames further. As of 2019, Cartoon Network seems to be recovering from this Dork Age as well. New, and much better-received, series such as Craig of the Creek, Summer Camp Island and Infinity Train have joined the network, and reruns of We Bare Bears and even Total Drama Island are much more frequent. Teen Titans Go! is still one of the network's most-aired series, but it no longer dominates the entire schedule as it did between 2015 and 2017. Also, with the acquisition of Time Warner by AT&T (and subsequent renaming as WarnerMedia), major internal reorganizations are slated to happen (as old TimeWarner head Gerald Levin feared synergy, he kept the different divisions at arm's length from each other, resulting in lots of legal snarls and red tape when they tried to collaborate; AT&T's reorganization will fix that and promote synergy), which will see CN brought under the aegis of Warner Bros., meaning CN and Warner Bros. Animation will work more closely than they ever have before. Toonami is benefiting from this change, as Otter Media, owner of popular web animation firm Rooster Teeth, has also been put together with them, meaning [adult swim] and Toonami will likely see a lot of Rooster Teeth stuff in the near-future. Furthermore, it was announced that, at the end of 2019, Christina Miller would leave WarnerMedia.
  • HBO is starting to show some disturbing signs of this in the aftermath of the AT&T buyout of Time Warner (now WarnerMedia). Putting aside the increasing amount of original programming that's shifting away from the network's original concept, 2018 and 2019 have not been kind to the premium television channel, with the decision to drop boxing from the network in late 2018 getting lots of heat from longtime viewers, the continuing trend of cord-cutting harming HBO's bottom line, the polarizing conclusion of the show's highest-rated series, Game of Thrones, and the merger of HBO into TBS's channels have left HBO's future in a very shaky path. Even worse, their last two first-run deals with non-Warner Bros. studios 20th Century Fox and Universal are set to expire in 2022 and 2023, respectively. Since those deals were inked, Fox has been bought out by Disney, who plans to make Fox content exclusive to their streaming platforms in the future, and Universal parent Comcast has launched Peacock, making it unlikely either of those deals will be renewed. This means newer films on HBO will be exclusively from Warner Bros., portending difficult times ahead for HBO. It's perhaps no coincidence that after AT&T's buyout of Warner, and the subsequent announcement of their own streaming service, the platform would evolve into HBO Max, an all-encompassing service that includes a massive backlog of Warner content from many subsidiaries, done to modernize HBO and adapt to the cord-cutting phenomenon. This article further elaborates on HBO's present issues.
  • MTV, as the poster child for Network Decay in the minds of most Americans, naturally gets a lot of complaints about how it's lost its way since its Glory Days in The '80s.
    • Some put the start of the Dork Age as far back as The '90s, when MTV first began developing original, non-music-related programming. However, fans of animation often consider the '90s to be one of MTV's best periods, being when they premiered numerous hit animated series as Beavis and Butt-Head, Liquid Television, Æon Flux, The Head, Daria, and Celebrity Deathmatch. Also, while Reality TV is undoubtedly a touchy subject for MTV fans for reasons detailed below, the early seasons of The Real World and Road Rules still won genuine acclaim for their looks at the '90s youth counterculture. Plus, the network still regularly aired music videos and performances; during this time, its MTV Unplugged series of live acoustic shows became a pop culture phenomenon.
    • Fewer people, however, will defend the network's programming in the 21st century, the point at which MTV was taken over by reality shows about teenage airheads and hard-partying twentysomethings. Laguna Beach, Teen Mom, My Super Sweet Sixteen, and Jersey Shore all became mega-hits that spawned franchises and spinoffs, and all were held up as symbols of everything wrong with reality TV by its critics, with many suspecting that the shows were possibly staged and definitely trashy. (Jackass is the lone exception; perhaps not coincidentally, it has little in common culturally with the aforementioned shows.) Music increasingly grew relegated to Total Request Live, and even that was canceled in 2008, revived intermittently over the years. In the 2010s, MTV attempted to jump on the scripted series bandwagon and compete with fellow teen-oriented networks The CW and Freeform, but while they did put out some acclaimed shows like Awkward. and Sweet/Vicious, only Teen Wolf managed to become a legitimate hit on top of it, causing them to abandon scripted programming and go back to reality shows late in the decade.
  • Some viewers feel that Netflix began falling into one around late 2018 and early 2019, with rate hikes, cancellation of more popular originals (the most high-profile being One Day at a Time, Tuca & Bertie, Patriot Act with Hasan Minhaj, I Am Not Okay With This and Altered Carbon, all five of which were highly-acclaimed by critics and audiences alike; the former two shows would be Uncanceled via Channel Hops), competition from other streaming services like Disney+, Peacock and HBO Max causing popular properties like The Office (US), Friends, Star Wars and the Marvel Cinematic Universe to leave, and lower quality original series and movies being cited as potential sticking points. While there have been a few hits, with The Witcher (2019) and Tiger King being notable examples, they've put out more than the occasional stinker (Follow This, Pinky Malinky, Soundtrack and Space Force (2020), among other shows), and some shows that were critically-acclaimed (including the aforementioned high-profile cancellations) never got another season despite Netflix never releasing its ratings data. Questions regarding its long-term content strategy also began to linger as more and more studios pulled their content for their own services to exploit, even as the company boomed in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic. It doesn't help that because Netflix doesn't have its own full-fledged production studio (most of its originals are commissioned by Netflix to third party producers, most of whom retain ownership of their IP with Netflix not seeing a dime from merch sales), the service relies heavily on debt to continue funding originals, only making money through subscriber fees rather than continued exploitation of the IP. It's become such a mixed bag for them that, despite winning the most Emmy nominations (160) in 2020, ahead of Disney (126) and WarnerMedia (120), they fell behind both of them in overall wins (21, versus Disney's 22 wins, in large part thanks to The Mandalorian, and WarnerMedia's 37, for them thanks to critically-acclaimed HBO programming like Euphoria and Watchmen)note .
  • Freeform has gone through at least two of these dork ages:
    • The first was in 1997 when Fox Kids bought what was then known as The Family Channel from infamous televangelist Pat Robertson. Sensing an opportunity to compete with Nickelodeon and Cartoon Network, Fox Kids decided to revamp the lineup of the Family Channel, where "Family" was essentially a buzzword for "shows that would not offend your grandparents" with game shows and Western reruns dominating the schedule. Implementing the parent company's library of shows, as well as plenty of imported programming (mostly from Canada), the result was Fox Family, launched in the fall of 1998. However, during its three years of existence, the channel became notorious for frequently changing timeslots on their shows, and wasted money on launching the gender-specific Boyz Channel and Girlz Channel, which barely got any distribution and were shuttered quickly. Not to mention, Haim Saban preferred to run the channel as cheaply as possible, which meant imported shows that didn't appeal to anyone, the nadir being the infamous Mega Babies. The older audiences that had previously viewed the old Family Channel in droves deserted the retooled network. Pat Robertson's CBN programming stuck around via contractual obligations, acting as a roadblock around the revamped schedule. As such, children preferred staying with Nickelodeon and Cartoon Network, while the network suffered in the ratings, with Angela Anaconda and S Club 7 being the channel's only hit shows. Fox Family attempted legitimacy by buying the reruns of the acclaimed but short-lived Freaks and Geeks, but that didn't help much, either. Fox Kids' partners, News Corporation and Saban Entertainment, frequently fought in the board room for control of the network, and decided that neither were capable of maintaining it; combine that with Fox Kids' own troubles and Murdoch's desire to raise money for an attempted takeover of satellite TV provider DirecTV, it led to the decision to sell most of Fox Kids' assets, including Fox Family, to Disney in 2001, which led to it getting renamed ABC Family.
    • ABC Family didn't fare well initially, either. Michael Eisner hoped to use the channel to air same-week repeats of ABC shows in order to lower the expenses of making them (this line of thinking would later be implemented by streaming services later in the decade). It seemed like a foolproof plan, until Eisner realized that Disney didn't own the syndication rights to a lot of first-run ABC shows. The result was that they aired a minimal amount of ABC shows and filled the remaining timeslots with whatever else they could air, usually from Disney's other cable networks, such as ESPN, as well as ABC News. This led to some weird scheduling; ABC Family's attempts to revive its sister channel's TGIF block of family sitcoms led to them including the drama Alias because they didn't have any other shows to fill the timeslot with. The mornings became the domain of most of the former Fox Kids shows, like Power Rangers and Digimon, that Disney didn't have a place to put otherwise. The result was a network that didn't know what audience it wanted to appeal to, even with the word "Family" in its name. Not helping matters was the fact that The 700 Club, a carry-over from the pre-Fox days, was becoming a PR nightmare for Disney and ABC Family due to the increasingly unhinged apocalyptic ramblings of host Pat Robertson; this was downplayed when it turned out that the channel had no choice but to air it due to contractual obligations and the only thing the channel could do was air Content Warnings that the network doesn't endorse Robertson's views. Struggling ratings continued until the mid-2000s when ABC Family began airing original programs aimed at teens and young adults, which became the cornerstone of the network.
  • Prior to the re-merger of Viacom and CBS in December 2019, Viacom's cable networks such as Nickelodeon and MTV were infamous for increasing commercial time on their shows, in large part due to declining ratings brought on in part by cord-cutting. Notably, Nick @ Nite reruns of Friends ran in 40-minute timeslots, with nearly half of the show dominated by commercials. The aforementioned Viacom-CBS merger mostly, if not entirely, eliminated this issue.
  • Ever since the end of the Monday Night Wars, TNT and TBS have suffered a slow, painful decline in relevance that has stretched for nearly twenty years. At the time, both networks were riding high with strong-performing movies and shows, as well as their flagship wrestling programs WCW Monday Nitro and WCW Thunder becoming two of cable television's highest rated programs of the late 90's. However, a combination of internal troubles at WCW, the disastrous merger between AOL and Time Warner and the installation of Jamie Kellner as Turner Networks head led to the cancellation of both programs, even though they were the networks' highest-rated programs despite continued viewership decline. Kellner decided to give both networks a major overhaul, with TNT invested in original dramas and TBS invested in original comedies. Unfortunately, the overhaul failed to play out as intended thanks to the originals flopping, with Witchblade becoming a notorious flop for TNT and TBS deciding to stuff its comedy slate with acquired reruns of older sitcoms, not dipping their toes into original programming until 10 Items or Less in 2006, three years after TBS shifted to comedy. TNT wouldn't be able to find a ratings winner post-Nitro until The Closer, and even then, most originals from the network failed to make it past two seasons, save for Leverage, Rizzoli & Isles and Southland which were solid hits. The networks also suffered from Time Warner's notorious anti-synergy stance, meaning that Turner or third parties had to provide the bulk of original content while its sister unit, Warner Bros., provided only a fraction. Meanwhile, their closest competitors, FX and USA Network (the latter of which had a brief Dork Age after losing Raw), managed to reinvent themselves by becoming originals-heavy networks, with FX successfully breaking out with prestigious programming in the vein of HBO while USA became a Lighter and Softer drama network with bits of comedy (largely in the vain of Monk and Psych), strategies that have paid off handsomely for both. Even as cable television has continued to decline in both subscriptions and viewership, FX and USA have managed to adapt with critically-acclaimed or highly-rated programming (with USA managing reclaim Raw in 2005), while TBS and TNT have hopelessly suffered double-digit drops in viewership percentages year-after-year, with only MLB baseball and NBA basketball respectively, along with the Warner Bros. movie library and the annual March Madness tournament, keeping the networks afloat.
    • Fortunately, lights started to show up in the tunnel in the middle of The New '10s. After the Turner networks announced a 10% workforce reduction in 2014 following a 13% drop in ratings, TNT and TBS revamped their on-air identities with an increased emphasis in original programs. The strategy has had modest payoffs, with TNT scoring it big with Animal Kingdom and The Alienist, while TBS has found critical and ratings success with The Last O.G., Miracle Workers, and surprise non-fiction hits like Full Frontal with Samantha Bee and Drop the Mic. The aforementioned sports properties have continued to be steady revenue generators for both, and TNT managed to return to the wrestling scene by picking up All Elite Wrestling's flagship program Dynamite, which debuted to such strong ratings that TNT renewed it through 2023.

  • 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 "relevant". This naturally turns-off long term fans (who watched CBC precisely because it doesn't typically trade in Lowest Common Denominator fare), while "mainstream" audiences get their entertainment from CTV and Global.

    United Kingdom 
  • ITV suffered a major Dork Age in the mid 2000s. After its attempt to launch a over-the-air digital TV broadcasting service collapsed (due to various issues, mostly relating to Sky Digital stealing customers and hiring hackers to break ONDigital/ITV Digital's encryption system) 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. It didn't help that corporate consolidation saw local identities and personalities— for decades the heart of the network— removed in favor of (mostly) national ITV branding. 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, it's only just managed to turn things around. The insanely successful X-Factor finally caught the younger market, and series of high quality dramas including Downton Abbey 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 Doctor Who 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, it's not that surprising.
  • Channel4 is in the midst of a prolonged Dork Age in the eyes of older viewers. Originally touted as an 'alternative' channel to the more mainstream BBC and ITV, its programming catered to a lot of niche interests, such as animation. Its comedic output from the late 80's to late 90's is particularly well-regarded, featuring a mix of home-grown classics such as Father Ted and Spaced as well as imports of American sitcoms. This halted in 1997 with the appointment of Michael Jackson (no, not that one) as Controller of Channel 4, which caused the network to rely more on those imports as well as more broadly accessible programming, the crux of which was Big Brother. Nowadays the network draws in viewers with more populist programming such as My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding and Benefits Street, which keep the network afloat despite criticism from its older fans over what it has become.

  • 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 vein of Jersey Shore. 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.

  • Nine Network fell into this around the mid-noughties, because all of the American shows it aired were either getting cancelled (like Friends and Frasier) or were losing their charm (like CSI) and they didn't have anything to fill the holes in the schedule. Their foray into reality TV failed when they cancelled The Block and the Australian version of Survivor flopped. Since this was also the time when internet speeds in Australia were getting fast enough that many Aussies simply downloaded any good foreign shows, in the panic Australian networks started airing shows as soon as they possibly could; it's just that Nine did this to, of all things, Viva Laughlin, which was cancelled after its second episode. Luckily, their fortunes has turned around, due to a combination of good reality properties like the return of The Block and Australian Big Brother, as well as good drama like Underbelly and a number of CBS comedy imports like Two and a Half Men and The Big Bang Theory (although they might be playing them too much...)
  • Network Ten fell majorly since the start of The New '10s. After launching its digital subchannel Eleven, and giving it branding (and programming) to attract the 18-30 demographic, the execs forgot why Ten's identity during The '90s and The Noughties was based entirely around it - because it couldn't compete with Seven or Nine for mainstream audiences. Masterchef Australia has been losing ratings by getting more stale and its reality-TV replacements have all failed, none of its other programming are getting any real viewers, and both breakfast show attempts were thoroughly mocked before being cancelled after less than a year on air. And it's suffering the worst of indignities: losing in the ratings to The ABC. It's since been bought by American network CBS and has undergone a major rebrand. Time will tell if CBS can turn Ten around.

  • Belgian channel KANAALTWEE (now known as 2BE) had one from 2004 to the first six months of 2005. The main reason why is because its major share of programming at the time was outdone by other television networks. Its market share (less than 5%) was considered too low and the network was almost desperate for trying a new hit but they never seemed to find one (with the daily soap Star Academy being much more unsuccessful than expected). Nearly every new show the network would have would get Screwed by the Network in a few weeks to get replaced and it seemed like every show would get low ratings (the shows with the highest ratings were stuff such as Open en Bloot and De Heren Maken De Man, which got 200.000 viewers). The last 6 months became more successful thanks to their new slogan (Need Entertainment?). Big Brother 2006 would get a viewer count of 300.000 viewers a day and their slew of live-action shows on monday evening would get a viewer count of 600.000 viewers, putting them effectively out of their bad status.

  • Up until 2011, TVE, Spain's public network, had the most respected news services in the country, even receiving international awards, and could hold its own in its ratings battles against the nation's top two private networks, Antena 3 and Telecinco. Then a general election happened, the conservative People's Party won with an absolute majority... and it was all downhill from there for TVE. With the new government using its full control over the Congress and the Senate to eliminate the rule that required a two-thirds majority to make any change on the network, they set out to use their majority to remodel the network in their own image, booting out most of the more allegedly 'progressive' journalists, such as Ana Pastor, bringing in unabashedly right-wing-oriented journalists and pundits as replacements and getting full decision power on what the channel could and could not show. Most notoriously, they held off indefinitely the airing of the second season of hit show 14 de abril. La República for the same 'allegedly progressive' reasons (it was a period drama set in the early goings of the Second Spanish Republic). TVE's ratings plummeted, and accusations of manipulating the news became constant. Even after the conservatives were ousted from power in 2018, the channel is still struggling to recover.


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