Have the feuding TV networks killed off Mad Men?

I used to think that the biggest threat to the fantastic ‘Mad Men’ TV series about Madison Avenue types in the all-conquering, drinking and bonking 1960’s was the onset of hippiedom (or the bourgeois version thereof).

Can you imagine Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce’s sharp-suited Don Draper (right) in bell-bottom jeans with a droopy Frank Zappa moustache?

But it’s not of course, it’s the machinations of TV networks. Or, as my friend George Parker of Adscam might put it, BDTVs (Big Dumb TV networks).

They’re not all big of course; AMC, which makes Mad Men, isn’t huge although Mad Men has made it successful. But now the company has fallen out with one US network to move to another, none of which will help Mad Men. I’m not saying this is AMC’s fault (I don’t know, it might be) but the decision to move Mad Men in the UK from the BBC to Sky Atlantic, BSkyB’s premium drama channel which refuses to share its content with any other UK pay-TV provider, most certainly was.

And the upshot is? Nobody in the UK watches Mad Men.

I can’t even show you a video clip because they’re disabled, schmucks!

Once you’ve lost an audience it’s almost impossible to get it back. And, despite the zillions it spends on programming and ‘exclusive’ rights, nobody in their right mind would watch BSkyB for anything apart from sport (to which it also owns most of the rights).

Sky Atlantic’s flagship programme (aside from Draper and co) was the Dustin Hoffman horse racing vehicle Luck, which died the death after series one shortly after a number of horses did in production. Which makes Sky a pretty big BDTV too.

And one of the best series on TV in recent memory is rapidly fading from view amid all these machinations. Isn’t a free market in television great?

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About Stephen Foster

Stephen is a former editor of Marketing Week and London Evening Standard advertising columnist. He wrote City Republic for Brand Republic and is a partner in communications consultancy The Editorial Partnership.