TV Land responds to Facebook users' demand for more retro shows

Hot-in-Cleveland_320.jpg Image Credit: TVLand It doesn’t take much sleuthing on TV Land’s Facebook page to discover some of the channel’s viewers are downright peeved. Their demands? More classic programming and fewer new shows. “Bring back the classics! Archie Bunker rules!” declares one viewer. “With all these comments, can’t you guys take the hint! You need to revamp the channel,” censures another. One says: “I’d rather watch the Cavs’ losing streak than Hot in Cleveland.”

TV Land’s first original scripted sitcom, Hot in Cleveland (which has just been renewed for a third season), nabbed SAG recognition in January with a nomination for the cast and a win for Betty White, along with the highest ratings in the network’s 15-year history. Capitalizing on their new hit, TV Land debuted their second original comedy, Retired at 35, earlier this year.

But many of TV Land’s Facebook fans are calling for a programming re-haul, and their show requests run the gamut: Get Smart, I Love Lucy, Mork and Mindy, The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour, That Girl, Barney Miller, The Dick Van Dyke Show, The Rockford Files, The Love Boat, The Monkees, Hazel, Rhoda, Flipper, and Soap all have fans eager to see their old favorite shows back on air.

But those fans shouldn’t hold their breath. “As time progresses and a network matures, there are still only 24 hours in a day,” Jaci Cohen, Executive Vice President of TV Land’s programming, tells EW. “We’re never able to give everybody what they want, and that’s why shows come and go on our schedule.”

TV Land does air some classic sitcoms — but only in blocks of several hours (ex. Sanford and Son for two hours or The Nanny for three). In the past, the network has rounded out its classics with reality fare, like High School ReunionThe CougarShe’s Got the Look and most recently, Harry Loves Lisa, which aired last fall. Viewers can also check out full episodes and extra content from the network’s classic programming and reality shows on TVLand.com. “Our schedule is still 60 to 70 percent classic TV,” Cohen says. “We’re in the business of participating in the current conversation, as well.”

That percentage doesn’t seem good enough for some viewers, who feel TV Land has strayed too far from its original mission of airing classic television. They want more shows from the ‘50s, ‘60s, ‘70s, and ‘80s, and don’t seem afraid to ditch TV Land for other outlets: “Retro Television Network and Antenna TV rock because they both offer the classics we’ve all begged for,” says one Facebook user. Somebody else shares, “I found The Hub. They play Happy Days, Laverne and Shirley, and Family Ties.”

That’s not to say there aren’t any fans of TV Land’s original programming. Cleveland’s ratings don’t lie: The series has enjoyed a 30 percent jump in TV Land’s primetime viewership. Plus, there are Facebook users who show enthusiastic support for TV Land’s original, scripted sitcoms amid the vitriol. Says one user of Hot in Cleveland: “I always laugh out loud at this show, even my hubby too.” Another praises the show as “a breath of fresh air in this sad world.” Extols another, “It’s the best show on TV.” “It’s about finding the balance between yesterday and today,” Cohen says.

How long the hostility from nostalgia hounds will go on remains to be seen. And even if TV Land’s Facebook feedback isn’t 100 percent positive, these new, original comedies might mark the dawn of a new era for the network that once aired “retromercials.” And who knows? Hot in Cleveland might one day invite the same nostalgia as All In the Family or I Love Lucy. “I think you could definitely call it an evolution,” Cohen says of TV Land’s branding and direction. “We are committed to scripted sitcoms and continuing down this path.”

Comments (165 total) Add your comment
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  • jen

    I find this interesting. I see the same thing going on with the History Channel and other previously “niche” channels.

    They started out with a mission to air shows on a particular subject or niche. Then they find that a particular demographic (above the others) gravitates to that niche of shows. Then they begin to program solely in terms of the demographic, rather than the niche.

    Like, you’ll ehar the History Channel talk about it’s programs that have nothing to do with history, by saying “Our viewers are BLAH BLAH BLAH demographic, and with think this new show will attract viewers in that demographic – despite it not being about anything historical”.

    Syfy has been doing this a lot. same with Food Network, and most of the Discovery Channel package. So they end up chasing the demographic and getting farther and farther from their mission, and diluting their brands in the process, rather than crafting a schedule based on the niche and using that brand promise to attract the viewers.

    • S.

      Agree completely. If I turn on the history channel, it is because I want to see a history show and if they aren’t showing one, I not only change the channel, I am less likely to return.

    • Jennifer

      Or as I like to call it “the channel formerly known as The History Channel, now with 100% less history”.

    • James

      They have Military History if you want to watch shows about the Nazis all day. History Channel revamped their lineup because they wanted to get rid of the monicker “The Hitler Channel” because all they used to show were specials on the Nazis and WWII.

    • gary burkett

      why are they showing GUNSMOKE OVER and OVER ALL DAY LONG IM TIRED OF IT CHANGE IT PLEASE

  • JLC

    I was about to say the exact same thing as jen. It’s why you don’t see music videos on MTV and they show wrestling on Sci-Fi. I wish they would just create a “lowest common denominator channel” and stick all the Jersey Shores, cooking competitions and pawn shop shows on that.

    • Teri

      “lowest common denominator channel”
      I lol’ed at this. One can wish…

    • Heather

      You’re voluntarily on EW.com, and you’re complianing about “lowest common denominators?” Hullo, irony.

  • jen

    YES! MTV is definitley the original culprit of this… In fact, they are so far from their original mission at this point that I’d completely stopped thinking about them in terms of music.

    • angie

      I completely agree with everyone especially bout mtv, dont get me wrong i like some of their shows but i have to get up at the crack of dawn to see ne videos! If they wanna go in the direction of less music and more shows then they should really consider dropping the false advertisement of “music television”

      • skins

        This is a business about money. If 6 million people watched music videos at the Ten Spot, then you would get an hour of music videos and not “Jersey Shore” or “Skins” and so forth. And as a society, we’re prone to want to grow and evolve — that’s why these cable channels started small and are now looking to see what else they can do.

        I’m sure if repeats of “I Love Lucy” or “The Brady Bunch” gave the TV Land 3 million viewers per week, they’d program that too. But I’m sure it’s gotta get pretty boring just acquiring and programming old shows.

  • JJ

    It’s understandable that TV Land would move away from reruns to newer shows (scripted or reality) but the core problem is they’re betraying their brand. We’ve seen it happen to MTV, VH-1 and Bravo…to much success in terms of rating…but there’s always the lingering desire to have what’s advertised. MUSIC television, VIDEO HITS 1, etc.

    Why can’t TV Land split and have TV Land Retro and TV Land where one can have newer shows and the other is the mainstay of classics.

    Even develop reunions, interviews, etc. to drum up more viewers on the retro side or think outside the box and have current actors do line by line, shot by shot ‘remakes’ of classic shows/episodes!

    I hope they see why Hot In Cleveland is working. Classic format. Classic sitcom faces. Retired At 35 is breaking away from that winning formula already with less familiar faces. Stick with ‘TV Land’ actors and maintain some semblance of your brand!

    • Sam

      To me one or two shows is not the problem the problem is “Everybody Loves Raymond” where I live this plays during primetime every day. Put classic TV in that spot.

      • E

        Yeah, and since when is The Nanny classic tv? It was on 10 years ago, but it’s not what I think of when I think “classic tv”.

      • Jen

        Yes, Raymond is on a lot and it’s not really a “classic”, but when it’s on TV anywhere I take advantage of it and watch. I love the show. I hardly consider “The Nanny” to be classic TV either, and that seems to be gaining more alotted time, though maybe it seems that way to me because I just don’t like the show. “Home Improvement” is also not that old, but again I like to watch the show (occasionally). “Roseanne” I would say somewhat fits in since that show is from the late 1980′s/early 1990′s, and I love the first several seasons of it.

        I understand people wanting the old shows on air somewhere, and it’s unfortunate they are hard to find (my mom loves “Green Acres”, but it’s not on). Maybe if other stations would quit airing crap we could all have something we like to watch. One thing I hate the most to see on any channel: Poker Tournaments. Epsecially on ESPN. That’s not exactly an ESPN type sport and is always on other stations as well. It just seems to me that poker is on some channel every night!

    • Dale Supplee

      Dear Sir I remember when tv land came on you Saturday at the westens and the same with sunday.and I am finding that you stop doing that and have new programs on.you have gone aways for what you were to be.please you can do better then that.tv has turned bad know please make tv worth wild again Dale

    • R8toactive

      Good commenst. A TV land split might not be bad just give me Gilligans Island and I’m happy. Maybe a little Daniel Boone to boot!!

  • grandpajoe

    I just found antenna TV in ny 11-4 , also 11-3 snap and channel 42 retro tv – I am in retro heaven the rifleman, dennis the menace, two company, the NANNY, Highway patrol, hazel etc great tv love it!

  • Carrie

    History Channel: Ice Road Truckers
    The Learning Channel: Midgets and people with too many kids
    Music Television: Jersey Shore
    Animal Planet: Animal Hoarders (technically has animals on it, but it’s a show about people with mental illness!)
    At least AMC has quality shows like “Mad Men” and “Breaking Bad,” but they are in no way American Movie Classics anymore.
    Don’t even get me started on what Bravo has become.

    • S.

      I used to love all those channels and I haven’t watched anything on them in months because of these type of programming moves.

    • tvgirl48

      AMC, when they air movies, they tend to be good movies though. And at least their original programming isn’t awful. I miss the days when the SciFi channel was the SciFi channel, not the unrelated SyFy. I miss Discovery Health before Oprah forced it to merge with FitTV. It’s hard for me to believe MTV ever played great music. I miss actual animal docs on Animal Planet. And TVLand should play classic TV. It’s like all these networks suddenly realized niche audience=small audience, so let’s completely rebrand and try to appeal to a large audience while ticking off our small but loyal audience.

      • tvgirl48

        What a shocker that Cable is hardly worth it anymore. Hundreds of channels and not much to watch because distinctive, unique channels eventually try to branch out and pander to the lowest common denominator.

  • daisyj

    I totally agree about the niche/demographics thing– this is what happens when marketing rules your decision-making. I also think there’s a money question here; reruns of terrible, failed reality shows are probably much cheaper than putting good older shows in the same timeslots.

  • Po

    TV Land, MTV2, History Channel, SyFy, and AMC have all been run into the ground by their owners as they attempt to appeal to the lowest common denominator. Bruce Springsteen said it best: 57 Channels (And Nothin’ On)

  • Buffy Freak

    I wouldn’t mind if TV Land aired original programming…but they’ve got to do better than Retired at 35…that show is just terrible…I feel so bad that the uber-talented Jessica Walter has to be associated with it. I’ve never seen any of their reality shows but they look just as bad as most of the reality shows on other networks.

  • claudenorth

    TV Land lost me when they started airing movies. Why would they feel the need to air movies? As if there was no other place where viewers could watch theatrical films edited for time and content, and interrupted by commercials. I agree with JJ — give us TV Land Retro and start airing shows from before 1970.

  • alex

    look at the tv land facebook posts and you will see that the “likes” usually more than double any negative comments. while they may be more in your face it doesn’t seem to be a truly accurate portrayal of the response. Also the Hot in Cleveland facebook page has near 250,000 fans.

    • englishsunset

      Wrong.

  • commentor

    I remember watching REAL classic shows, like Patty Duke, Donna Reed, Mary Tyler Moore, My Dad Is A Car…etc, when I was a kid in the 80s. THE NANNY is NOT a classic show!!!

    • commentor

      …not to mention Mr. Ed, Green Acres, Beverly Hillbillies and many, many more.

      • commentor

        …Bewitched, I Dream of Jeannie!

      • englishsunset

        I believe Green Acres had one of the largest followings ever and was the source of one of the greatest letter writing campaigns ever to TVL. It didn’t work.

    • Po

      No kidding. TV Land lost me as a viewer when they started showing infomercials and movies. If you think the Facebook comments are harsh, check out their forum. You would be hard pressed to find any one happy with what TV Land has become.

    • sd

      thats fine if thats your idea of classic television, but that is related to your age group. I have no desire to watch “Patty Duke, Donna Reed, Mary Tyler Moore, My Dad Is A Car…”. Were they good shows for their time sure I guess, but thats what draws people to “classic shows” its a nostalgic thing. it reminds them of stuff they used to love and watch in their youth. For me classic tv is generally more 80′s fare and the stuff that was in syndication in the 80′s. Though i am not a fan of the nanny I can appreciate that some people view it as classic.

      • Matthew Paul Argall

        I’m sure I’m not the only person who likes shows from before they were born. “The Patty Duke Show” is always great. The underrated “I Married Joan” even ended before my mother was born….

    • MelindaB

      Did you mean, “My Mother, the Car?”

      I agree that the TV Land forums are full of people unhappy with the state of the channel. I remember when they used to regularly rotate the classic shows that they aired, and they had shows like “Ellery Queen,” “Petticoat Junction,” and “I Spy.” I used to watch the show faithfully, and now I can’t remember the last time I had it on.

      • MelindaB

        By “show,” I meant “channel.”

    • Jason

      lol, I think you mean “My Mother the Car”.

  • Ben

    Is there a reason TV Land seems to show endless reruns of the Andy Griffith Show? Do they get these things for free?

    • MelindaB

      For some reason, this made me laugh really hard. I like Andy Griffith, but I like other shows, too.

    • Kenny

      There’s a lot less Andy Griffith ..Its regular airing was even on this morning, people love the classics “Andy Griffith ” good family shows, morals ….Now tvland is a joke just like the rest of them …I’m done!!

      • Kenny

        *wasnt

  • TV or not TV

    Not only has TVLand “strayed” from its niche, it continually runs and re-runs the same shows and episodes. What is exasperating is that the channel obviously has a treasure trove of episodes from many decades of broadcast television. But, tune in at any given time and you are likely to see Bonanza, Andy Griffith (again and again), the Nanny (yikes – they repeat the same eps on Saturday and Sunday!), etc. At the very least, mix it up!!!

    • Midnight

      Hey, they are trying to make you not want to watch the old shows. If you right in and complain about showing the same old shows then they think you don’t want the old shows. I don’t want the new shows. I went to tvland to escape those shows in the first place. I love classic tv like Dragnet

      • Doris Mcmurry

        The advertisements are awful. Like selling Trojans and they may as well be having sex it’s so vivid. The young children are getting enough education as it is.

  • Mrs B

    I agree with the other posters. Arts and Entertainment (A&E) used to be so good back in the day as it was Arts and Entertainment and many good mini series of classic novels and British programs. Now it sucks with more reality junk.

    • Rose Mills

      Mrs. B, I remember those glorious days when A&E showed BBC’s “Solo,” “Two’s Company” and “Open All Hours,” among others. I rarely turned the channel in those days because there was always some new gem waiting in the wings. Leonard Nimoy’s one-man show, “Dear Theo,” was something I shall always remember with joy. To the rest of the world, he might be Spock– but not for this woman.

      To think that people actually enjoy seeing “Dog” Chapman armed with a paintball gun and playing hide and seek with half-dead crack monkeys boggles the imagination.

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