by Christen Westbury
Programming Overview: What Makes the TV World Go ‘Round?
The answer to the question above, is television programming. Television programming refers to the shows that are aired on television networks for the purpose of obtaining an audience. Television programs are essentially the vitamins that keep the television industry growing and flourishing from year to year. The skeleton that supports programming is advertising. With the exception of publically owned TV stations, television networks are heavily supported financially by the advertising space that they sell to various companies. Corporations such as Proctor & Gamble, AT&T, and GM, funnel billions of dollars into television advertising every year. Their dollars translate into :30 second or :60 second commercials where they advertise their product or service between and during programs. Nevertheless, going back to what makes the television industry an industry, programming is the necessary piece that provides the content for what we see projecting through our TV screens.
Programming however, is not a guaranteed moneymaker and/or success story. It is one of, if not the most risky elements of the television industry. No programmer knows what exactly makes a hit show, nor does a programmer know exactly what makes a show last. There are general formats and concepts that have proven to be successful, however no one can predict how well a program will thrive, until it hits the TV screens of consumers. Programming is a component within the television industry that is more complex than most would assume. Programs must be constantly innovating and portraying what audiences want to see, but at the same time how exactly does one do that? That responsibility essentially rests in the hands of a programmer.
The job of the individual programmer is to act as a cultural and social interpreter, soaking up as much information about the society as possible. This involves but is not limited too, researching the competition, studying previous hit shows, learning about what are the latest social trends, predicting new crazes, analyzing demographics and consumer behavior, listening to the latest news, and deciding what fits the brand of the particular company. All in all, programming is something that is essential to this industry, but must be carefully executed in order to make shows come into full fruition.
Programming Genres: The Breakdown 
In the world of programming, there are a variety of different types of shows. The different shows in a specific category sometimes follow a general outline that has been successful for past programs, but some choose to manipulate the formula and go their own route. Overall, there are many genres of television shows, but there are four that are produced the most. 
The Sports Program
The first type of programming that is heavily produced are sports programs. Sports are a big business industry that is responsible for the production of many hours of programming footage for the various television networks (including both broadcast and cable). Sports programs include the coverage of tennis matches, soccer games, Monday Night Football, the NCAA basketball tournament, SportsCenter highlight shows, 30 for 30 documentaries, and a plethora of other types of sports coverage. This specific programming type is hugely seen within the TV industry due to the profitability of its market. Last year sports was a $422 billion dollar industry that TV was heavily apart of.
The second program type that is incredibly popular is the Drama. The television drama is scripted programming that incorporates fictional storylines. Dramatic programming is filled with suspense, cliffhangers, questions, and excitement. This category includes action dramas like Fox’s former hit series 24 all the way too soap-programming like ‘Revenge’. It is a common but yet expensive type of programming to produce.
The News Program
Thirdly, News programming is something that is seen all across the TV medium. The 4 big broadcast networks are responsible for many hours of both national and international news coverage. In addition to their programming, there are also various networks such as CNN and MSNBC that report news 24 hours a day.
The “Reality Show”
The last, but certainly not the least programming type that is widely used in the U.S. is the “reality show”. Reality shows are programs that are intended to portray real life from the perspective of a “fly on the wall.” Essentially these shows are depicting real people in real situations that are unscripted. Some of the most recent reality shows include Big Brother, The Bachelorette, Bad Girls Club-Cabo, and the Real Housewives of Beverly Hills.
What’s the Latest?: Big Stories for Fall 2012 Programming
Walking Dead Season 3 Trailer 
‘The Walking Dead’ Walks Up the Ratings Score Board
The Walking Dead is AMC’s hit show that is crushing records in its third season. The success of this show has been one of the biggest stories within programming for the fall 2012 quarter. The Walking Dead is “the first cable series to beat every other show of the fall broadcast season in the adults 18-49 rating” . This relatively new scripted series beat out seasoned vets ‘Modern Family’, ‘Grey’s Anatomy’, and ‘The Big Bang Theory’. Its midseason finale delivered a whopping 5.6 rating with a grand total of 15.2 million viewers. Additionally, ’The Walking Dead’ is reported to be the most mentioned show in cable programming. This groundbreaking new show has made historic strides, and shows no signs of letting up
Hurricane Sandy Aftermath
During this quarter of the year, the east coast experienced a natural disaster by the name of ‘Hurricane Sandy’. This super storm led a path of 13 days worth of devastation, destroying communities, killing over 90 citizens and displacing record amounts of people . New York and New Jersey were among the states that were hit the hardest. New York city was crippled by the destruction of its transit system and gas shortage. In addition, areas of the city were left submerged under water, and many places of businesses were inaccessible. Inevitably the television industry faced major setbacks. CBS was forced to stop the filming of three of its programs, Elementary, the Good Wife, and Blue Bloods. Warner Brothers TV had to stop the filming of 7 of its shows, including the hit series’, ‘Person of Interest’ and ‘Gossip Girl’. Additionally, NBC had to halt the production of ’30 Rock’, ‘Law & Order: SVU’, ‘Smash’, and four of its programs . Hurricane Sandy was responsible for the loss of programming dollars within an industry that cannot afford to sacrifice large production costs. Sandy caused the production of programming to be immobilized thus overall affecting budgets and schedules for many networks.
The Affects of DVR’s & Lower Expectations on Programming
In the past, if a show was not posting successful ratings a network would be quick to cut its losses and replace it with a new show. However, this fall there has been two new trends that are closely tied to DVR’s and the attitudes of those who wield the scissors. This fall more than ever, people have been watching shows not during the immediate broadcast but rather at a later time. This fact alone presents some type of promise that a shows may be posting better ratings then one initially thinks. DVR’s have played a critical role in saving programming that might have otherwise been cut from the fall 2012 lineup. In addition to the direct affects of the DVR, networks appear to also be lowering their standards. Network programming executives are aware that there is a surplus of programming options for the TV consumer during this day an age. With that said, fall 2012 appears to be the quarter where they are taking this fact into account, and lowering their programming rating expectations. This trend coupled with the affects of DVR’s has possibly been the sole reason why poor performing shows like ‘The New Normal’ are still around .
Programming is the beauty of the industry; it is what makes people turn on a TV set. It is an element of the TV industry that mystifies many who study this field, because no one really knows what will make something work, but when it does it truly makes your mind tick and your heart flutter. The experience of watching your favorite show of all time is indescribable, but nothing beats being the mind behind giving that feeling to millions, a position I someday will be in.