Wednesday, July 29, 2009

TLC ratings "record-breaking" last month

This isn't all Little People, Big World related, but might be interesting to fans.

According to a new article in the LA Times, TLC had record-breaking ratings last month. Of course, this is without Little People, Big World, which will return in the fall.

Some food for thought, Jon and Kate Plus 8 which is TLC's highest rated show used to regularly draw numbers in the high 2's, 2.7 or 2.8. Little People, Big World often received low 2's, 2.2 or 2.3 -- which were considered very solid ratings. Ratings spike when there are special episodes such as scandal or tragedy (ie. Jacob's trebuchet accident episode, Matt's DUII trial, and Mike Detjen's death). After the Jon and Kate frenzy, as the article states, their "divorce" episodes drew over 10 million viewers.

The article is about TLC President, Eileen O'Neill, who took over last July, and how ratings have improved under her control. When she took over, apparently TLC ratings had dropped 30%.

In September 2008, just before the start of Season 4 of Little People, Big World (and just after the National Enquirer article aboout Jeremy's use of racial and homophobic slurs), Eileen O'Neill made these comments about the show in a press release:

"Little People, Big World will continue to share the big surprises and little moments that make the series one of the most engaging and addictive on TV today," TLC president Eileen O'Neill said in a statement. "The series helps remind us of all we share in common, despite any differences we might have."

I know there are a lot of naysayers about the future of Little People, Big World, but I predict continued strong ratings - perhaps better than ever if the network as a whole is doing well.

"Heaven and hell" is how Eileen O'Neill describes her first year at the helm of TLC, the cable network that is home to the controversial reality hit "Jon & Kate Plus 8."

O'Neill, 42, took over as president and general manager of TLC last July after the channel's ratings had dropped by 30% under predecessor Angela Shaprio-Mathis. Now she's wrapping up a record month. The channel averaged more than a million viewers in prime time, a 43% gain from the same month a year ago, including a 43% jump in female viewers ages 18 to 49, one of its target demos. The improvements are even more striking given that there were no new episodes of "Jon & Kate" during that period.

So that's heaven, and now here comes hell.

Next week, "Jon & Kate" returns. The show, which follows the life of Jon and Kate Gosselin and their eight kids, went from timid to tabloid. The couple's very public marital woes have played out on the small screen and in every gossip rag, and earlier this summer TLC put the show on hiatus after the spouses split.

Although all of this has been great for business -- the audience for the show has skyrocketed with the last episode, which ran in June and drew a record 10.6 million viewers -- it also has led to criticism that the network is exploiting the couple's problems for commercial gain.

The guarded O'Neill, who was instrumental in the development of "Jon & Kate" when it initially premiered on Discovery Health Channel, acknowledges that documenting the rocky road that the Gosselins are traveling has been "tough to navigate."

"Their status as a couple has obviously been disappointing; we can't change anything about people's lives," she said, adding that the show had "delivered for the family things that were important to them ... opportunities for them and the kids."

It also has delivered things that were important for Discovery Communications-owned TLC. Before O'Neill took over, the knock on TLC was it had lost its way creatively and financially. Though she won't talk money, industry consulting firm SNL Kagan said TLC's ad revenue tumbled 5% to $270.5 million in 2008, a figure the channel should easily beat this year, according to people familiar with the situation. TLC also is now positioned to negotiate better distribution fees from cable and satellite operators. According to SNL Kagan, the channel currently gets 16 cents per subscriber. That is less than half of what cable networks such as USA and FX command and below the industry average for a network of its size.

Although no network would turn down the ratings and revenue that "Jon & Kate" have brought to TLC, the flip side is that the pressure increases on O'Neill to capture lightning twice.

"Now we have to grow over ourselves," O'Neill says. "That's the hard part."

She's off to a good start. TLC's new show "Cake Boss," about Hoboken, N.J., baker Buddy Valastro and his family, has averaged more than 2 million viewers and has just been renewed for a second season. Getting some traction on new shows is key because sooner or later the "Jon & Kate" juggernaut will fade.

Fortunately for O'Neill, Valastro's biggest personal problem appears to be his nagging mom, Mary, and they can't get divorced.

-- Joe Flint


Greg said...

That's...surprising. I think TLC is in the gutter. Everywhere I read, people complain about how TLC is the freak show channel.

It's morbidly obese people or about people with 50 kids. If the criticism about TLC was that it was stale and had lost creativity a year ago, I think things have gotten worse.

More shows about obese people.

More shows about parents with lots of kids.

More shows about little people.

Greg said...

Oh and make sure all the families are religious conservative Christians, but don't be too vocal about that fact, enough to drum up support from the religious right, but not too loud to turn the rest of the audience away.

That's the extent of TLC's creativity. Just my opinion.

Le-anne said...

I only really watch TLC for Little People Big World :)

I've seen a few episodes of Jon and Kate and a few of episodes of Table for 12 and The Little Couple, but the only program I make sure I don't miss are the Roloffs.

I have a conspiracy theory that religious groups do a lot of crowing to network executives. They're loud and make their voices heard, convincing the networks that they're a force and better be taken care of.

I'm not religious. If LPBW was too much about their religion, I might not be as big of a fan as I am now. It actually surprised me when I began reading about how religious the Roloffs are in 'real life'.

David said...

I'm not a fan of Eileen O'Neill. I felt out of respect for her gay, black and mexican viewers, following the news of Jeremy's use of hate speech slurs she should have issued a statement condemning what he said.

She didn't. I don't like her morals. She showed how little she cares about her minority viewers.

High ratings don't equal quality or good taste.

Anonymous said...

Jon and Kate should have been cancelled ages ago, but the greed continues.

Jenny said...

I don't know if I hope the show goes on anymore or not.

This sounds weird, but I like the show but I don't like the Roloffs anymore. I like things about the show, how it's filmed and the feel of it and I like how the family is portrayed on the show, but I don't like everything else about the Roloffs and how they really are.

I've had some interaction with some of the Roloff kids and honestly I think they're very rude and spoiled kids that don't have any manners.

If they weren't on tv with TLC making good PR for them, I think people who meet them or talk to them would think they're very rude private school kids. They're not polite or nice.

Anonymous said...

TLC will do even better next quarter when J&K and LPBW return.

GD said...

Jenny, that's a great point.
Matt and Amy say their kids are just like their friends.
I agree.
Unfortunately their friends are everything that comes to mind when you think of kids who are spoiled by their rich parents and go to school in an expensive private school.
Yep, I agree the Roloff kids are just like that.

Longtime Watcher said...

I think Little People Big World keeps getting better and better.

Jeremy and Zach were pretty rebelious and mouthy when the show started, but they've got a lot better.

The whole family is so much better in their alone interviews than they used to be. I like Amy's and Zach's interviews the best.

I enjoy the show that much more now.

Rap541 said...

I tend to watch the History Channel more than TLC now. I honestly have some moral concerns about watching Jon and Kate plus 8 because of how the children are exploited, and I have to extend that concern to the Duggar and Roloff children as well. Yes, they are older and therefore can say "I don't want to be on tv" but I have to question in any of these families how seriously that would be taken. I think the big offenders are the Gosselins, but I don't think its fair to point fingers at the Gosselins for living off their children, when after all is said and done, the Duggars and Roloffs are doing the same with their kids.

TLC isn't a charity, they have a right to want to make money with their programming but it really has gone downhill from where it used to be. The emphasis on people with bizarre health problems would be ok if it wasn't constantly presented in offensive ways (The Half Ton Teen sounds like a freak show call) Right now, about the only thing I watch on TLC is reruns of Property Ladder.

Dana said...

Oh Rap, you would have nothing to do if you weren't ripping on the Roloffs. All because you have issues with Christians because your brother is living an immoral life style that Christians do not approve of.

"I have to extend that concern to the Duggar and Roloff children as well. Yes, they are older and therefore can say "I don't want to be on tv" but I have to question in any of these families how seriously that would be taken."

I only watch the Roloffs. I can only speak about them. Do you even watch these kids?

They're living a great life. That's why many people are jealous of them. The Roloff kids get to travel to every possible tourist spot in the world and do all the fun things. Call social services!!!!

All the Roloff kids are happy and healthy and living a great life. Jake can be mopey and sulky, but that's just his personality. There are a lot of mopey and sulking 12 year olds.

Matt and Amy have given their kids a childhood to dream of.

Rap541 said...

Dana - I actually intentionally did not mention the religions of the Duggars, Roloffs, or Gosselins because it's not actually relevant to the issue of child exploitation. We're talking about TLC in general.

Matt and Amy - and the Duggars, and the Gosselins - earn a great deal of money from allowing their children to be filmed. I think the Gosselins are by far the worse offenders, but frankly, you do understand that the privacy of the children is being exploited for money? Jeremy, for example, would not be in the national enquierer to begin with if his parents weren't making money off showing his childhood. Likewise we wouldn't have footage of Zach drugged in the hospital. Is the money worth it? That sort of attention is balanced by free trips (trips that Matt Roloff has insisted were happening before the show so we're being fed a line on *something*)

This was about *TLC* exploiting children. There doesn't seem to be a lot of checks and balances in place to make sure that the kids on these shows - on all of these shows - ever see a share of the money they are earning for their parents.

I have watched the shows and frankly I have seen a number of the Roloff children avoid the camera or act differently on camera. If it doesn't concern you that the kids are "reshooting" scenes of their lives, thats ok... but it concerns me. In fairness, I am more concerned about the Gosselin kids.... But Jake was eight, the same age as the older Gosselin kids are now, when the show started. His behavior is very similar to the Gosselin twins. I can't help but wonder why.

Rap541 said...

Btw - for the anons out there who like to whine and moan... Dana the proclaimed Christian is judging her Christian self better than my apparently unChristian and immoral brother. After all, Dana is a Christian.... I guess she as a Christian has the right to declare who is and isn't moral? I've been told its not the case but in practice....

Anonymous said...

Rap - What is to you if others do with their lives! I guess if was you ad yours, you would say no to an opportunity - I doubt it! That's the American way, except now we are in jeopardy of losing our freedoms to a scourge called Socialism maybe Communism. Live and let live! Let Freedom ring!

Rap541 said...

Does freedom ring for queers?

Because people like Dana say people like my brother don't deserve the same rights as people like Dana.

Dana married a man (I assume) and that is her right as a Christian American, but my brother can NOT marry a man since he's a crappy queer who people like Dana hate and therefore isn't as free.

Yes, my brother does live in a state in the US where same sex marriage is not legal because well... it offends Christians and god forbid Christians deal with people who don't believe as they do. It's per Ron Roloff, UNAMERICAN to not be Christian. Remember? Remember Ron Roloff's posts about how if you don't believe in Jesus, you are not a citizen? You ok with agreeing with Ron, Anonymous? I mean yer so proud of your opinions you won't even pick a nick, so are you proud to agree with Ron Roloff that any non Christian American war veteran isn't *really* a US citizen?

Brittney said...

well said Rap. It's about time that this country realize that religion is supposed to be a unifier, not a divider. The reason that homosexuals are not offered the same rights as everyone else, and yes I say rights because they are rights, is because of a religion that thinks they are not worthy. Well, that's bogus. It's discrimination, and if marriage is so holy then it should not be offered as a legal, government institution.

Also, I think anyone who is anti-gay based on their religious beliefs should realize that they are interpreting this from a bible that was translated (incorrectly) from a different language thousands of years ago. If we took the bible as literal as some do when it comes to gays, we'd be stoning our children to death for being disobedient. Sounds crazy, right?

Lisa said...

Rap and Brittney,

I will assume you live in the United States of America. This country was founded on Christian principles.

As it states in the Bible, marriage is between a man and a woman. If you want homosexuals to marry, what is next? Do you argue for the rights of brothers and sisters and cousins and mothers and sons and fathers and daughters? That is sick. It would make a mockery of marriage and of God.

The majority of citizens in our country oppose gay marriage. Brittney, religion is supposed to unify. Unify for the glory of God. The Bible is the word of God. The Bible says one man, one woman.

Since this is about the Roloffs. All of my children at one time or another have attended Faith Bible. My children know the Roloff kids very well. The Roloffs are devout Christians. They oppose gay marriage as you would expect from any Christian.

I will add that while you were arguing for the rights of homosexuals to destroy marriage, Amy + family + friends held a beautiful and very successful event at their lovely home for her charity foundation. The Roloffs are wonderful people who have their priorities in order. God is at the top of their list.

Rap541 said...

How does letting gays marry destroy the Roloff's marriage?

That's what I don't understand, Lisa. If gay marriage is legalized in your state, will you divorce your husband and renounce God? I mean, you do understand that *marriage* is a legal state granted by the laws of this country... and not by a church. Would you no longer be strong in your faith if gay marriage was legal? And if thats all it takes to give up your faith - how strong is your love of Christ that your marriage would fall apart if gay marriage was legalized.

Your church is still perfectly free to not marry homosexuals - your arguement that some people should be restricted from *legal* rights (and there legal rights and benefits according to married couples by the *government) because you've decided, like your pals the Roloffs (apparently) that you deserve rights others should not get. How American of you :)

And btw, do you keep kosher? Do you seperate yourself from your male relations during your menstrual cycle because you are unclean? You don't eat shellfish do you? You do apparently allow physically blemished people in your place of do realize its in the Bible not to do that? And that per the Bible, you're your husband's property? And per the Bible, eating shrimp is a sin?

Lisa - do you follow ALL the rules in Leviticus? Or just the ones that let you hate?

I mean, you're Christian and you believe you have to follow ALL the rules, right? So you do consider yourself unclean and unfit during your cycle?

Brittney said...

Okay Lisa,

Let's base all of our values and rules today (the 21st century), on a couple thousand year old book, which again, was not properly translated.

If marriage is a holy, sacred institution which only allows people to be married under "God's" watchful eye, then only devout Christians should be allowed to marry.

Lisa, how do you, and the rest of the Christian religion, feel about a Christian marrying a Jew? What about a Christian marrying a Buddhist? Or, even a Christian marrying an athiest. These marriages are all LEGAL in the eyes of the government, and according to you, are all okay because a MAN is marrying a WOMAN. Oh, and I'm sure you'll say that any "God" disapproves of marrying outside ones religion. But I don't see devout Christians picketing and protesting these marriages!

Like Rap said, how does it in any way affect your, your marriage, or your family, if two men or two women, who you do not even know, choose to marry and share a life together? Oh, that's right. It doesn't.

Sure, this country was founded upon Christian beliefs. This country was also founded based upon the ideas of slavery, black people not having the right to vote, women not having the right to vote and men were the breadwinners and women stayed at home cleaning and cooking. If this country was founded upon Christian beliefs, then why are people who are Jewish, Buddhist, Jehovah Witness' allowed to be wed?

And once again, like Rap, I bring up my previous question about following all the rules of the bible. Do your children(if you have any) ever disobey you? Well, assuming the answer is yes, then they should be beaten and stoned, as it says in the bible. If you eat shellfish or shrimped, you have sinned. And your husband owns you. All of this stated in the bible.

And like most Christians, you'll probably laugh at my next statement, because that's the only response that they can think of when they realize it's true. When people compare the orginal Hebrew and Greek writings with various English translations of the bible, many discrepensies emerge. Sure, many English versions condemn homosexuality. But the original Hebrew and Greek versions and their passages actually are unrelated to homosexuality. Don't believe this? Research it yourself, or I'd be glad to provide examples.

I'm so sick of anti-gay reasoning and excuse being "the word of the lord states homosexuality is wrong." It's actually nothing but hate. And while I always assumed the Roloffs went along with this hate, I have lost a tremendous amount of respect for them for it.

Brittney said...

And yes Lisa. I live in the United States of America. In New England actually. Where 4 out of the 6 states have legalized gay marriage. Where the polls show that people actually support the cause. And guess what, the gays haven't taken over. They aren't wierd freak shows that force their lifestyles upon the heterosexuals. Our children aren't "learning" to be gay. Life goes on the same way it did before it was legalized. Christians are still able to practice their religion. Same goes for all other religions.

And comparing gay marriage to incest is a cop out. There are absolutely no similarities. But again, I'm not surprised. That's usually the tactics people like you use to get their point across. Oh gay marriage, what's next? Please.

Rap541 said...

Btw Lisa - can you explain why you equate same sex consensual relations between two non related adults with incest and pedofilia?

I mean really, since you're raising the point, can you point to ANYONE who is advocating brothers and sisters should marry? Or mothers and sons should marry? Fathers and daughters? Who is suggesting that if gay marriage happens, then next *obvious* step is incest with children?

*on a complete aside, cousin marriage is legal in many states... since you're equating that with being in a gay marriage, I imagine you don't think much of the Christian churches who allow first cousin marriage, am I right? Church weddings of first cousins - despite being legal - are a sin against god?

Just trying to get a hand on your beliefs. I notice you haven't responded as to whether you as a Christian who follows the Bible actually follows ALL of the rules it sets out.

Expressed said...

"And while I always assumed the Roloffs went along with this hate, I have lost a tremendous amount of respect for them for it."

Brittney, anti Christian people like you are more intolerant than you claim Christians are.

Why can't you respect the religious beliefs of the Roloffs?

You lose respect for the Roloffs because they wouldn't agree with your warped view of marriage?

Rap541 said...

Expressed - in all seriousness, if they are Christians, and if you are a Christian, shouldn't they and you be bound by the Golden Rule? Love your neighbor as you love yourself?

I know Christians, real Christians, who really walk that particular walk. It's very hard, but I have nothing *but* respect for them.

In fairness, if the Roloffs (and you) get to judge, and Jeremy gets to call people names because he's religiously obligated to hate (and FYI that is not in the Bible) then why is actually expecting people to live by the book if the book is holy word?

Seriously, lets be real here. Does saying "I'm Christian" mean a free pass? The point being made here is that there's a lot of rules in Leviticus (thats a book in the Bible just in case anyone cares) and yes, there's a rule about homosexuality. But there's a LOT of OTHER rules as well and a lot of the people who say they are Christian and the Bible agrees with their views on gays? Don't follow the *other* rules. The Roloffs - GREAT CHRISTIANS - eat shellfish. Amy and the kids disrespect Matt. Amy and Molly do not use seperate kitchen utensils because of their unclean status. I won't even touch the "blemished forbidden as unclean stuff".

The southern plantation owners used the rules in Leviticus to justify slavery - the Bible says owning people is ok, and thats the word of God - so there's a LOT of stuff there.

Why is it ok to obey just some of God's rules? I mean, some of you really take the gay rule pretty seriously, but I notice Amy isn't cited as a bad Christian for not acting as Matt's property.

Brittney said...

First of all, I am not anti-Christian. In fact, I was actually brought up in a very Christian household. I just do not agree with some of their beliefs and values, especially on homosexuals.

Second of all, I can respect the fact that you believe your views are justified because they are God's word. It comes from your religion and you have every right to believe that. My problem is that YOUR beliefs from YOUR religion infringe upon the rights of others. Because you believe a certain way, you think all people should live by those values and beliefs. That is where the Christian intolerance comes in. Your religion does not set the basis for everyone's lifestyle. It only sets the basis for yours, and others should not be forced to live by ideals that they don't believe in.

And lastly, I did not lose respect for the Roloffs because of WHAT they believe. I have always known that they are devout Christian and follow the Christian beliefs and values. I lost respect for them because they never admit this. They say they are Christian, yet never talk about their actual beliefs. And the reason they do this is for viewers and for money. I think that's wrong and cowardly. Oh, and I suppose the whole Jeremy gets to call people fags and mock gay people and then not respond or explain himself had something to do with a loss of respect.

One more thing. Christians always have only one answer for their views on homoesexuality. "It's in the bible" "God says it's wrong". But when people such as myself and Rap bring up points about not following all the words of the bible, and the fact that not everyone in this country believes in the Christian religion, we get no response. Well, that's not true. We get told that we are the intolerant ones. Why does no one ever answer these legitimate questions?

Rap541 said...

I have to agree with Brittany on this. Really, Expressed, I don't particularly care for your beliefs but you are upfront about them, and I respect that. To a point, I respect Lisa as well. However, I do not see the Roloffs saying the things that people who say they know them say are true.

The Roloff family has not said, on tv, or in interviews "We are Christian and we believe homosexuality is wrong. What Jeremy said is ok by us because homosexuals are against God. We believe homosexuals can be cured..." etc. They don't even really admit to this evangelical furvor that is attributed to them.

Now that leads me to two possible conclusions.

1. They just aren't that religious and are not saying so because they're marketing the show and its products to Christians. (possible but the less likely choice)


2. They do believe these things, but understand that they would get a lot of bad publicity if they were honest and make less money. Therefore the public face is so-so religious, very tolerant and diverse - because it sells better and puts more profit in their pockets.

Considering how so many of their personal friends claim they hold fairly fundementalist beliefs that are NOT shown on the show, I say, they don't seem to be out and proud about their beliefs.