TV's New Season

Commentary written by Stephen Battaglio of TV Guide.
We've been introduced to a lot of new ways to watch TV lately. Dying to catch a new CSI? Record it on TiVo. Who's hooking up on Grey's Anatomy? Find out from an iTunes download. Need a quick fix of House? Stream him on the Internet. Or you can watch Jack Bauer's day go by in a DVD boxed set of 24.

Yet even with all those viewing platforms as network suits like to call them, the traditional new fall season still rolls into town every year like a carnival. New shows with new stars. New shows with old stars. Your favorite shows on new nights.

So how long do these new shows have to get viewers in the tent before they get the hook? If it's a bad show with bad ratings, not long. Last year ABC spent millions to promote a new comedy called "Emily's Reasons Why Not." It starred a very sexy actress, Heather Graham, a book publisher looking for romance. The network made six episodes, but canceled it in January after airing only one. Think the folks at ABC knew something that we didn't? But if a network believes in a show, patience can pay off. "Seinfeld" took a couple of years to become a hit. So did "Everybody Loves Raymond."

In recent years, "House" was such a slow starter. It was almost cancelled, but then Fox aired it after its gigantic hit "American Idol." Millions of new viewers found "House," and now it's a top 10 show

All this new technology can help worthy shows find an audience. Not a lot of people were watching "The Office" when NBC introduced it early last year, but when Apple's iTunes started offering TV shows, "The Office" became its hottest seller. NBC kept it on, the ratings improved, and in August, "The Office" won an Emmy for outstanding comedy.

But if you were looking for a reason to watch TV on your computer or your iPod this season, look no further than Thursday. The night is loaded up with TV's best and most popular shows such as "CSI," "Survivor," "Grey's Anatomy," "The Office" and "My Name Is Earl."

Why so many good choices on one night? It's because advertisers will pay a premium to reach you on that night before the weekend, when you go shopping or to the movies - and aren't spending as much time in front of the TV.
By Stephen Battaglio