My First Rule of Programming strikes again

BBC America LogoLong-time readers might remember my First Rule of TV Programming: No matter what niche a pay-TV channel initially occupies, as time goes on, it will become more and more like all the other channels. It might start as the Chess Network, but by Year Five, it’ll be running old sitcoms and reality shows.

It’s easy to find examples of this rule in action. The Game Show Network became GSN and de-emphasized old game shows. TV Land, which started with classic TV shows, added shows about old TV shows, then added original sitcoms that had nothing to do with old TV shows. The Sci-Fi Channel became SyFy and added pro wrestling. The Nashville Network started with country music, then became TNN and added pro wrestling, then became Spike and added reruns of Star Trek and CSI. The History Channel runs reality shows. You get the idea.

(I pause here to give a shout out to the lone exception to this rule: Turner Classic Movies. It started later than American Movie Classics, but as AMC strayed away from that shared vision of commercial-free classic movies, TCM has expanded on it. TCM is one of my favorite channels.)

Anyway, from the logo at the top of this post, you can guess the latest channel to embrace this rule. BBC America has hired a vice president for its new original programming division.

This is particularly annoying because BBC America holds exclusive US rights to all BBC content. It’s the main reason why you can’t get the BBC channels anywhere in America. The BBC already produces more content than BBC America can show, yet the channel already pads its schedule with movies, The X-Files, and Star Trek. (At least it hasn’t picked up pro wrestling. Yet.)

Maybe if we’re lucky, BBC America will follow the path of several other channels and spin off a second channel that is pretty close to how it used to look. (Think Cartoon Network and Boomerang, or MTV and VH1 Classic.) That would buy us a couple of years until the new channel falls victim to my Rule all over again.