Jueves 16 de Noviembre de 2006, Ip nš 179

TV Notes: Downloads a key element in TV's future
Por Rick Kushman

We have a couple of new peeks at the future of TV -- which we get so often, it might as well be the now of TV.

First, NBC has started streaming what amounts to director's cuts of "The Office" on its Web site -- www.nbc.com -- with scenes that were deleted from the on-air episodes. Lots of shows have aired deleted scenes or extras but never as part of a whole streamed episode. (The expanded version will stay on the site for a week.)

"The Office," which has won an Emmy for best comedy, has been one of the shows that's gotten a big push from digital exposure. NBC has said its popularity as an iTunes download helped the network decide to keep the series.

So, the upshot? It's not just TV ratings anymore that affect network decisions, and shows aren't being produced just to appear on the air. Soon -- probably very soon -- everything that runs on the networks will just be the simple, economy versions of shows. The other future peek is CBS's deal with Comcast and General Motors to have GM sponsor the network series that CBS offers on demand, including the three "CSIs" and "NCIS."

Viewers can watch these shows through Comcast's On Demand feature, and instead of sitting through the usual commercial breaks, will see just three spots -- one before the show, one in the middle, and one at the end.

The one aspect of the future of television that most people in the industry predict is the one with viewers ordering all their shows On Demand and rarely worrying about actual airtimes and dates. The bigger questions involve the role advertising will play, whether people will still get 16-plus minutes of ads per hour, whether viewers will be able to pay more for shows without ads, and more. This deal is a look at one likely model, a compromise of sorts for viewers and flat-out sponsorships for advertisers.

'King of Queens' returns

A few potential mark-your-calendar dates:

CBS has announced that "The King of Queens" returns Dec. 6. The comedy will run on Wednesdays through December, temporarily taking over the time slot for the new show "Jericho."

CBS also announced that "Jericho" will take a mid-season break -- just like ABC's "Lost" -- so the show with a continuing post-apocalyptic storyline won't have to fill time with the repeats that drive off fans. The last "Jericho" for the fall will air Nov. 29, then it will come back with a recap on Feb. 14 and a new episode on Feb. 21, or as the networks call it, an "all-new" episode because, apparently, sometimes they run shows that are only partly new.

Finally, Fox announced that "American Idol" returns for season six Jan. 16 and 17 with back-to-back, two-hour shows featuring those ever-popular wacky auditions. Oh, those kids.

That's a Tuesday and Wednesday, by the way, right after "24" starts its own season with back-to-back, two-hour doses on Jan. 14 and 15. Fox is expecting a big January.

If "Idol" sticks to its schedule, the show will narrow the field to 32 by Feb. 20, and that's when America gets to start voting again.

  13/11/2006. Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.