Branding and Franchises

CBS announced today that it is scheduling CSI: NEW YORK up against NBC’s LAW AND ORDER. I guess it was inevitable, with so much of each network’s schedule given over to branded franchises, that a CSI would go up against a L&O… which is launching a fourth L&O spin-off in January

There’s a lot of talk today about the CSIing of CBS and the LAW AND ORDERing of NBC. But Dick Wolf and Jerry Bruckheimer aren’t the first to discover branding…nor is it the first time networks given huge chunks of their schedules to one franchise… though they weren’t called franchises back then, simply “spin-offs.”

During the 1976-77 season, CBS had MTM’s MARY TYLER MOORE SHOW, PHYLLIS and RHODA….all spin-offs from one show… as well as Norman Lear’s ALL IN THE FAMILY, MAUDE, THE JEFFERSONS, and GOOD TIMES, all spin-offs from one show. (Beyond that, CBS had other shows from the same producers. ALLS FAIR and ONE DAY AT A TIME from Norman Lear, BOB NEWHART from MTM). Two seasons later, ABC had Garry Marshall’s HAPPY DAYS, LAVERNE AND SHIRLEY, MORK AND MINDY and JOANNIE LOVES CHACHI, all spun-off from one show…

The new wrinkle . and Dick Wolf’s brilliant innovation, is tagging on the name of the “birth show” to the spin-off (ie “ALL IN THE FAMILY: THE JEFFERSONS) and using reworkings of the same theme music and main title graphics on each show.

Then again, it’s not so new… Paramount was doing it in syndication with STAR TREK… and STAR TREK: THE NEXT GENERATION, STAR TREK DEEP SPACE NINE, STAR TREK VOYAGER and now, STAR TREK ENTERPRISE.

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