Channel Surfers, It's Your Big Night

Friday, October 12, 2007

T elevision network executives don't care if you've got the blues. They're just glad you've got the tube turned on while you sulk.

Sundays have become the biggest viewing night of the week, because whether you have lots to do (lunches, laundry, etc.) or desperately little, chances are you're also up for a little small-screen distraction.

You think: Such a bummer.

They think: Captive audience!

And programmers are of two schools of thought on how to best take advantage of our, uh, availability.

Bob Thompson, a professor of television and pop culture at Syracuse University, explains:

Some say, " 'Okay, this is our potentially biggest audience. Let's make sure we put our best foot forward,' " he says. The second theory is, Thompson says, that we'll watch any schlock the networks put on because we don't have any alternatives.

HBO falls in the first category, making its Sunday night programming something of a main event with marquee shows. Past lineups included "The Sopranos" and "Six Feet Under." Fellow network Showtime has followed suit, with heavy hitters "Dexter" and "Brotherhood."

But flip around enough and you're equally likely to find lots of, well, junk.

It doesn't really matter, though. You're watching, so they win.

© 2007 The Washington Post Company