Sunday Morning: The Golden Age of Television
On CBS Sunday Morning, Tracy Smith looked at what’s being called the new golden age of television and examined the trend of putting all the best shows on Sunday evening.
Now that it’s fall, it’s the start of a new TV season. It’s the kind of excitement that would normally make a TV critic like Alan Sepinwall in a great mood, except that he says Sunday is troublesome. “It’s the best and the worst, because on the one hand, you have the very best shows in all of television, many of them the very best shows in the history of television, all airing on Sunday. But they’re all airing on Sunday,” Alan Sepinwall said.
For example, this Sunday in the fall, there will be The Walking Dead, The Good Wife, Boardwalk Empire, and Homeland. These shows are all critically acclaimed and really popular, but they’ll all air at the same time. In January, Downton Abbey will be back and in the spring, Game of Thrones will return.
“I look at Sunday and I cry because I want to write about all of these shows and I can’t,” Alan Sepinwall said.
Sunday Morning: DVRs & Television
50 percent of American homes have Digital Video Recorders, or DVRs, so this isn’t necessarily as big a deal as it could be. People can record things and watch shows later. But which to watch live and which to watch later? That’s the big debate. Eight of the 20 of the most time-shifted programs aired on Sunday, with AMC’s Mad Men at number one.
Sunday Morning: Why Do Shows Air Sunday Night?
Why do programmers schedule all these shows on Sunday night in an era when we can watch them whenever we want? Sunday has always been the most popular TV night of the week. Last season, on average 122 million viewers, a third of the country, tuned in.
David Nevins, president of Showtime, said that it doesn’t matter when people watch it. But he said he thought if the show doesn’t air Sunday night, people wonder if it’s less important than other shows.
CBS Sunday Morning: History of Sunday Night Programming
Sunday night has been the dominant night going all the way back to early television, when shows like Alfred Hitchcock Presents and The Ed Sullivan Show ruled the night. It was the night Lassie and Walt Disney’s The Wonderful World of Color aired. Not to mention 60 Minutes and Bonanza.
It was also the night programmers considered big event television, airing special movies. One of the highest-rated movies of all time, Gone with the Wind, aired in 1976. In the ’90s, Touched by an Angel was a top-rated show.
In 1999, the landscape was changed dramatically when The Sopranos aired, changing much of television forever. An estimated 10 million viewers watched the first season of The Sopranos. HBO began to fill Sunday night with cutting-edge TV and other networks started to follow suit. Mad Men originally aired Thursdays in its first season, but it moved to Sunday. Before long, more and more TV shows moved to Sunday night.
CBS Sunday Night: Everything Being On Sunday Night Is A Good Thing
These Sunday programs are also good for television as a whole, because they keep people coming back to the television set to watch shows together with their families. On average, Sunday has the most tweets about television. Three of last season’s top 5 series with the most Twitter traffic aired on Sunday, led by Breaking Bad.
These kinds of big shows and the social media buzz around them create a need for watching it the night it airs, because if you wait too long to watch, you might get spoiled on the plot, like if you are a fan of Game of Thrones and failed to watch the infamous Red Wedding episode, which had several shocking twists. You would have been spoiled the second you jumped on Facebook, because everyone was talking about that twist.