Networks Confident Americans Care More About ‘Big Bang Theory’ Than Fate Of 5 Million Immigrants

This week, the top executives at ABC, NBC, CBS, and FOX decided they would not show President Obama’s big speech on immigration on Thursday night. Popular shows like “The Big Bang Theory” are usually on at 8 p.m., and the networks seem to have decided that they can’t afford to cancel the shows because they would lose millions of dollars in ad revenue if they ran the speech without ads.

So, what programs do they plan to spend their money on instead? ABC plans to air the fall finale of the long-running medical drama “Grey’s Anatomy.” In that episode, Meredith and Derek fight over a patient’s case, which leads to a bigger fight. On NBC’s “The Biggest Loser: Glory Days,” contestants will compete in a “sandpile challenge” before going on a hike with their trainers to discuss their successes and goals. “Howard and Raj look for something important in a dead professor’s research” is what happens on “The Big Bang Theory” on CBS, and “Bones” on FOX is, well, just another episode.

A CBS News spokeswoman confirmed that the address wouldn’t be shown, but she wouldn’t say anything else. A spokesperson for ABC News said that while the speech won’t be shown on the network, it will be on ABC’s digital platforms, such as radio and Apple TV. Representatives from Fox and NBC did not respond to requests for comment.

Even though a recent Gallup poll showed that Americans see immigration as one of the most important “problems” facing the country today, the networks are probably right that viewers are more interested in their shows than a presidential announcement. The Washington Post says that the number of people watching presidential speeches has gone down over the years, especially during Obama’s time in office, because we have more things to do on our TVs, computers, and tablets.

Even though it’s a sad sign of how the country values things, the network’s decision to keep Obama off of most broadcast TV stations is just business. Even more important is that they are all happening in the middle of Nielsen’s “sweeps” period in November when viewership helps determine local advertising rates. Even though September is not a sweeps month, broadcast networks did cover Obama’s 9 p.m. speech about the Islamic State. This meant that some shows had to be delayed or cut short.

Anyone who wants to learn more about Obama’s executive action on immigration, which could affect as many as 5 million immigrants, can watch the address on PBS, a cable news network, or somewhere online. Still, officials at the White House are upset that Obama’s speech isn’t getting much attention from the networks.

“In 2006, Bush gave a 17-minute speech that was shown on all three networks and was about sending 6000 National Guard troops to the border. “Politico heard this from a senior government official. “Obama is giving a 10-minute speech that will have a much bigger effect on the situation than the speech itself. None of the networks are doing it.”

There have been times when primetime TV and high-profile presidential speeches clashed in public. In 2010, “Lost” fans almost had a fit when they heard that Obama’s State of the Union address might cut into the end of the show. That didn’t turn out to be a problem, but diehard fans of the show may have been just as upset after seeing the long-awaited ending.

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