Monday, April 29, 2019

Happy Days: A Sitcom By Any Other Name...

Today, syndicating reruns of television shows is standard business in Hollywood. It is a known and expected method of generating revenue from a television production. Back in the early days of television, however, most TV programming was seen as ephemeral. It wasn’t meant to be seen after its first viewing and few thought that anyone would want to re-watch something that they had already seen. Visionaries like Desi Arnaz and Walt Disney, however, saw the value in their back catalogs. When other producers saw that extra money could be made by syndicating reruns, they weren’t entirely certain that this “free money” wouldn’t cause other problems. Many thought that viewers would be confused by syndicated repeats and ratings for new episodes would plummet, thus “Syndication Titles” were invented.

Syndicators would create new titles for the syndicated repeats, like Andy of Mayberry instead of The Andy Griffith Show or Happy Days Again instead of Happy Days.

Laverne & Shirley & Company as well as Laverne & Shirley & Friends were used as syndication titles for Laverne & Shirley. Thus viewers could discern new episodes from repeats. This tactic didn’t work out too well when it came to minimizing confusion. Audiences didn’t quite understand why these shows had different titles. Even more importantly, reruns actually gave first run episodes higher ratings. Since audiences could use repeats to catch up on episodes they’d missed and discover shows that were new to them, repeats were a benefit to first run episodes, not a detriment.