1. saganite says

    Nice, but incomplete. Where’s “The Learning Channel” and their Honey Boo Boo stuff and whatnot?

  2. eurosid says

    The middle column would be better labeled “What it pretends to sell”. These channels have all abandoned their original claimed intent.

  3. Saad says

    Which one is it that has haunted house shows now? Every time I would turn to it some dude would be real close to the camera whispering while breathing heavily with everything in night vision green.

  4. says

    TLC is missing from the list. I’ll try to make up for it. What it tries to sell: Learning programs. What it really shows: Christian Fundies with 19 children and up.

  5. Mark The Snark says

    But, but, the free market always produces the best result. Clearly your definition of “best” is flawed if you are not satisfied with what these profit-maximizing entities produce.

    It does explain why the Republican party hates PBS so much.

  6. says

    To be fair, National Geographic also has loads of programs on nazis and WW II. But mostly nazis. And Discovery channel also relies heavily on people scrapping, making, and selling automotive vehicles.

    Perhaps it’s a regional thing, but either way, what they pretend to show, and what they really show is vastly different.

  7. Akira MacKenzie says

    A&E. What it tries to sell: The arts, opera, stage drama, ballet. What it really shows: Wannabe-redneck duck hunters.

    SyFy. What it tries to sell: Science fiction, fantasy, and horror programming. What it really shows: Wrestling and plumbers chasing shadows and ambient noise…I mean, “ghosts.”

  8. Alverant says

    I think the Animal Planet one is wrong. I don’t remember seeing many cat shows on there. It seems to be dominated with hunting/fishing shows. So the cartoon should be “Wild Animals” to “Killing Wild Animals”.

  9. Akira MacKenzie says

    Tony @ 10

    Ah, but the cartoon doesn’t indicate the squirrels as dead…yet.

  10. twas brillig (stevem) says

    Yes, while the OP presents the most egregious offenders of Cablevision, I insist on including SyFy,

    Tries to Sell: Science Fiction and/or Fantasy genre stories.
    Really Shows: Wrestling and Monsters.

    <aside>”SyFy”, really? Why change to that, from your original “SciFi”?? Did WWE force that homophonic respelling? </SciFi-geek>

  11. Trebuchet says

    Discovery should be “people in Alaska”, not “People in the jungle”. And Animal planet should be “Mermaids”.

    Why does that cat appear to have boobs?

  12. AlexanderZ says

    National Geographic is a network and Nat Geo Wild does indeed show wild animals. Mostly.

  13. Larry says

    I’d catagorize the discovery channel as faux-reality shows that are more heavily scripted than 1960’s sitcoms. And shows about hillbillies designed to make you feel much better about your lot in life.

  14. says

    Much needed change may be heading to the Discovery Channel:

    Bye bye, men eaten by snakes!

    So long, mermaids!

    Don’t let the door hit you on the way out, Megalodons!

    TV critics fell deeply, madly in love with new Discovery Channel chief Rich Ross this morning at Winter TV press Tour 2015 when he said he would not continue the network’s trend of telecasting fake stuff.

    “It’s not whether I’m a fan of it,” Ross said, which critics let slide. “I don’t think it’s right for Discovery Channel, and think it’s something that has run its course. They’ve done very well… but I don’t think it’s something that’s right for us.”

    Critics came ready to do battle with the new programming chief over some of the programs they most love to hate on the brand they once adored. That includes its two fake mermaid documentaries, and two suggesting the Megalodon still roams the ocean — the second of which, Megalodon: The New Evidence became the highest rated episode of the network’s most recent Shark Week, with 4.8 million viewers.

    So excited did the critics become with his news, they started asking Ross if he’d kill Finding Bigfoot – and maybe some of the freak-show series like My Crazy Obsession — on other Discovery Communications networks Ross is not tasked with overseeing.

    Once he’d explained patiently to them that he “just has to worry about what I do,” they settled down and got back to Discovery Channel shows.

    “Do you haves plans to repair relationships with scientists and educators who felt those shows betrayed a mission and gave false information?” one critic asked eagerly.

    Ross explained patiently he’d made a very strong statement this morning as to the direction in which he’s taking Discovery Channel, naming HBO veteran John Hoffman as Executive Vice President of Documentaries and Specials. “This was not just a signal, it was a message that it’s very important to us, and to me, that when people are telling stories and they’re delivering information that it is true and can be entertaining as well, which is mandatory.”

    Discovery is “more narrowly niched than it needs to be,” Ross said, and that he intends to return Discovery Channel to the “No. 1 brand for whole family and not just for the men in the family.”

    Even beauty pageant questions, like “What is your dream project?” he kept on-point, responding he’s looking for programs that “impact people to do something,” hinting he thinks history programming is “underutilized,” and is looking at a couple of pieces of scripted programming along those lines. His idea of an ideal Discovery show is one that “makes people care and do something about it.”

    Discovery’s recent, critically reviled Eaten Alive, was “the right intention, with a packaging that was deeply misleading,” Ross said. Its star and would be snake snack, tour guide/snake enthusiast Paul Rosolie cares deeply about snakes and wanted to draw attention” to them, Ross said generously; TV critics who thought Rosolie cared most deeply about promoting Rosolie let that slide too. “To me you don’t have to be so sensational, and over-promise,” he said of that show. “The fervor of that story kind of got out of control.” Ross said he’d rather program a special in which “the story is clearer and it is what you want to watch but you don’t expect something at the end of it that can’t possibly happen.”

    “I don’t believe you’ll see a person being eaten by a snake in my time – I can’t over-promise that, but that’s how I feel today,” Ross said, as TV critics resisted the urge to give him a standing ovation.

  15. Ogvorbis: qui culpam, non redimetur says

    Tony @10:

    ::Wonders how you can make a fire with two dead squirrels::

    I’m wondering if it the same process used to create flaming goats.

    Or, we can ask a physics professor:

    “Well, first you must assume two perfectly spherical squirrels . . . ”

    Or not.

  16. Larry says

    …process used to create flaming goats

    Tried one of them at this new, swanky bar the other night. You could barely taste the goat.

  17. throwaway, never proofreads, every post a gamble says

    The Science Channel could just as easily be on there with “Morgan Freeman kowtows to religious fundamentalists, you get to see inside a factory, and here’s a partly naked man trying to survive in the woods!”

  18. Rich Woods says

    @Tony #10:

    ::Wonders how you can make a fire with two dead squirrels::

    Accelerate them to 0.9c and cross the streams.

  19. twas brillig (stevem) says

    re @19:
    Thanks for that cross-post, Tony. Nice to know the director of Discovery Channel prefers to show programs about REALITY instead of all the schlocky faux docs they currently show. I know TV is admired for its storytelling, but calling a fantasy a “true story”, is not proper (to put it mildly).
    to reiterate my SyFy rant: SyFy, which is supposed to be dedicated to telling fantastical, barely plausible stories, has gone in the opposite direction; focusing on “reality” as in WWE extravaganzas.
    I really hate the direction they’ve taken. /rant

  20. says

    This isn’t accurate.
    There’s no mention of people bulldozing remote wilderness valleys to scrap up a few bottles of gold dust.
    They all show a variation or five on that, don’t they?

  21. says

    Tony!, a vegetarian shark like the vegetarian T-rex? Did it live on sea veggies and fruit? Sea watermelons and sea cucumbers – no, wait, those are animals. No sea cucumbers for you, prehistoric shark!

    What I want to know is, if megalodon was a vegetarian, why did it have those big, sharp, meat-eating predator teeth? Huh? Huh? Were you there? Did you see what it ate? Answer that!

    Sorry, I’m just going to go take a nap now, my brain is cranky.

  22. firstapproximation says

    Additional to History channel: Hitler. Anything and everything he ever said or did. Followed by the same fucking thing but with Rare Colour Film!!11eleventy-one!!

    Most of the Hitler stuff seems to have moved to Military History, to make more time for ice truckers, aliens and Nostradamus. It’s really bad when you can honestly say, “It was better when they were obsessed with Hitler”.

  23. twas brillig (stevem) says

    I’ve forgotten the specific channel, but I think Discovery, or History, aired the faux documentaries about mysteries of prehistory being ascribed to Alien-Intervention with the wildhaired ~Krackopolous~, always intoning, “I’m not saying it was… || It. Was. Aliens.” aaaarrrrggghhhh, I remember: Ancient Aliens”. Which Channel is still blank…
    The producers were clever to always have the narrator intone, “According to Ancient Alien Theorists…”, never saying blatantly presumptuous,”Only Aliens could have…” I would sometimes try to watch this as a mockumentary about the nonsense the A.A.Theorists bafflegab, but I was unable to maintain that viewpoint.

  24. Lady Mondegreen says

    @Anne, Lurking Feminist Harpy & Support Staff, #17

    All of them, sharks

    I read that in Mia Farrow’s Rosemary voice. (“WitchesSharks. All–all of them witches sharks.”)

  25. twas brillig (stevem) says

    re Al Dente @32:
    kaboom!1!1! Yes indeed. But they do so, FOR SCIENCE. I assume you’re referring to Mythbusters. they just spectacularize the show with explosions, but give reasonable dialog about HOW to use the scientific method to examine the popular “urban myths/legends” of the day.
    They are Professionals, Don’t even dare to try to replicate their actions at home, Never”
    Need it be said? Yes. It looks like they’re having so much fun, who wouldn’t want to do the same? They also have a segment, to highlight “viewer feedback”, when a viewer points out that, “Busters did it WRONG. Try doin it this way.”, etc.
    Even though they fired Kerri and the other “kids”, it’s still a ‘must see’ show.

  26. scienceavenger says

    Jesus people, learn to screen and use your DVR. I watch all of these channels en masse, and the only time I see any of the crap you’re complaining about is in the blur while I’m fast forwarding through the ads. Watching a channel whether you like the show or not is so 20th century.

  27. Trebuchet says

    @34: For most of the shows on those channels, you’d be better to fast forward through the programs and watch the ads. Just sayin’.

    I will humbly confess we watch Gold Rush. I’m glad it’s done for the season.

  28. hoku says

    @ 25 Twas Brillig

    When you say ScyFy switched from “fantastical, barely plausible stories” to wrestling, are you being sarcastic? Because The Undertaker is a fantastical and barely plausible as it gets.

    @ 19 Tony

    I think the real reason for the switch is that those shows had no tail. People switch over to watch mermaids, and then leave instead of sticking around for the more regular shows. Since you’re pulling in an audience that doesn’t stick, the high ratings don’t mean much long term.

  29. Trickster Goddess says

    Tony @ 10

    ::Wonders how you can make a fire with two dead squirrels::

    Static electricity.

  30. Rey Fox says

    Cable TV has got to be the worst return on investment out there.

    Speaking of return on investment, this chart is a perfect illustration of the free market at work. You don’t necessarily get the best stuff, or even the most popular stuff, but the stuff that gets the best return on investment. Hence all the cheap reality shows.

  31. andrewpang says

    @ #39 and not to mention how TV is pretty much obsolete nowadays save for live programming like sports and news. Sure, Discovery, History, and TLC might have been groundbreaking enterprises in their early years. People seeking highbrow, educational programming beyond PBS were willing to pay extra for those channels.

    But enter the new millennium. The DVR enabled people to skip commercials and watch programming on their own schedules not the networks’. And then enter social media, blogs, and YouTube offering a hell of a lot of free information about sciences and humanities. I’ve been reading PZ Myers since discovering Scienceblogs back in ’06. With the interactive nature of online media like Scienceblogs or the Facebook “I F****** Love Science” page or Reddit, those who would’ve watched Discovery or History for hours on end back in 1995 instead would chat science/history on said online outlets in 2015.

    So it’s Economics 101: Why pay to watch science on TV passively when you can have a much more interactive educational experience for less via an Internet connection? Sure, cable TV has shown there is a market for more complex programming like “Game of Thrones” or “The Walking Dead” (as opposed to the Kardashian reality shows or MTV). But that’s because there’s no equivalent of “Game of Thrones” on YouTube (while YouTube has all sorts of documentaries and nonfiction programming).