TV shows begin trickling back after strike

Mon Mar 17, 2008 6:21am EDT
 
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By James Hibberd

LOS ANGELES (Hollywood Reporter) - Scripted television is back on.

After months of broadcast networks airing mostly repeats and reality shows, the dramas and comedies shut down by the writers strike finally are trickling back to the air.

CBS' comedy block is the first group of fall shows to return. Fresh episodes of "The Big Bang Theory," "How I Met Your Mother" and "Two and a Half Men" will run Monday night for the first time since November.

The 100-day strike halted scripted television productions and sent most broadcast networks into a ratings recession. On Mondays, competition has been so scarce that reruns of "Men" are often the second-highest rated show of the night.

Still, few expect audience levels to rebound instantly to their previous marks.

"We're certainly excited to have some shows back, but I don't think we'll be at full strength right away," one CBS executive said. "It's going to take awhile for people to realize original programming is back."

Networks are running ads to alert viewers that their favorite shows are returning, but recent ratings trends suggest broadcasters face an uphill battle. The rising popularity of DVRs, the Internet and video games wreaked havoc on TV shows that take midseason breaks.

"There will be a ratings fall-off due to the continued growth of DVRs," predicted Brad Adgate, senior vp at Horizon Media. "And perhaps the strike may have altered viewing patterns and will cause the networks to lose some share points, similar to what occurs during the summer."   Continued...

 
<p>The cast of "The Big Bang Theory" in a photo courtesy of CBS. After months of broadcast networks airing mostly repeats and reality shows, the dramas and comedies shut down by the writers strike finally are trickling back to the air. REUTERS/Handout</p>