A Break from Nostalgia, A Bit of Something New

Those expecting TV Land classics such as "M*A*S*H" or "Green Acres" might have been surprised to discover the doctors and staff at the modern Sacred Heart Hospital gracing their television screens this weekend. Sharing multiple episodes of "Scrubs" throughout the Labor Day weekend was just part of TV Land's latest re-vamp. TV Land, a cable network from Viacom Inc., has been around since 1996, originally showing a steady stream of boomer throwbacks such as "The Dick Van Dyke Show" and "I Dream of Jeannie." But as more and more of these shows become available on DVD collector sets and online, TV Land feels the need to search for a new routine. In addition to the "Scrubs" marathon, TV Land plans to take a break or two from nostalgia and create new programming this fall.

According to the Wall Street Journal, "By the end of 2009, TV Land -- which has for years served baby boomers a diet heavy with shows from their youth -- wants to fill half its prime-time lineup with original programming ... Aimed primarily at people in their mid-40s -- the younger end of the boomer spectrum, which spans those born from 1946 through 1964 -- the new slate includes reality shows like 'The Cougar,' ... [and] series pilots like 'First Love/Second Chance,' which reunites long-lost lovers. The channel's also importing reruns of more recent shows, like the '90s-era 'Friends.'"

Through their new strategy, TV Land points out something that companies should take to heart: You can't count on your viewers (or consumers) sticking with you. Sometimes, it's necessary to shake things up to keep your business fresh and exciting. If interest wavers, that interest won't return to a company if you sit still and hope for the best. Sure, TV Land's efforts at expanding their audience may not work. Even the president of their network group notes the risk: "Putting more original television on a channel dedicated to classic television is a risk in some ways," says Doug Herzog, president of MTV Networks Entertainment Group, which includes TV Land. Herzog adds, however, that the idea "is to bring new people into the tent." It might take some extra spend, but there's room for the network to grow, and TV Land hopes to fill that space and add new viewers.

- Amy Edwards

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