The strike strikes again — at network ratings

We all know about the writers’ strike. It happened. It’s over. Our shows have finally come back to us, and regardless of the shortened seasons, we’re grateful. So why is it still relevant?

Well, besides the lingering financial impact it’s having on crew members, the strike also seems to be hampering the ratings at every network. ABC, CBS and NBC have seen sharp double-digit drops in their viewership over the past month, and not even May sweeps can save them.

No one is immune from the decline. Not only did highly rated shows Grey’s Anatomy and Ugly Betty see their lowest ratings ever last week, but usual ratings juggernaut American Idol is feeling it, too. Despite holding the top two spots in weekly ratings consistently, Idol is not bringing in viewers like it did in the past. AOL News reports that Idol producers are even surveying viewers to determine which changes they would like to see in the program in an effort to give it a much needed makeover before Season 8.

But what does this mean for us, you ask? Good question. For one, it means that some "bubble shows" like AfterEllen.com favorite Women’s Murder Club will have a better shot at being renewed. It does not appear, however, that this will translate for Cashmere Mafia.

A recent Los Angeles Times article has referred to this past year as "the worst season in the history of the network TV business," and with the possibility of another strike (this time, the Screen Actors Guild) looming this summer, it doesn’t look like things will be improving anytime soon.

One thing the Times article does note, however, is that many "female-skewing" shows (specifically Desperate Housewives and Dancing With the Stars) seem to be bucking the trend. This is good news for us. If shows with a largely female demographic come out (so to speak) as the shows with the capability of surviving the ratings drop, then those will be the types of shows that advertisers buy into, and could possibly result in a wider variety of women-oriented programming.

With all the uncertainty surrounding the biz these days, we’re more than likely in for a few surprise cancellations/renewals as the fall lineups are revealed. What shows are you hoping for/don’t care about? Are you watching less television than during those pre-strike days? Do tell.

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