Maybe your Sunday evening doesn’t revolve around TV scheduling, in which case, congratulations on your exciting and fulfilling life. If you’re like at least half of the ConDaily staff, though, it does, and last night presented a bit of a dilemma: watch the AMC premiere of Mad Men at 9ET/8CT, or watch the second episode of Game of Thrones on HBO at the same time?
If you’re like us, you decided to watch Mad Men first. Both HBO and AMC had a night of back-to-back encores planned, but Mad Men had a two-hour time slot, so going to Game of Thrones first would mean an hour break between show. Or waiting an hour and catching the second Game of Thrones and immediately going in to Mad Men, but why would you want to delay your happiness by an hour? Mad Men then immediately Game of Thrones was the clear decision. Except that Mad Men wasn’t a 2 hour premiere. It was a 2 hour and 8 minute premiere. Thanks for the heads up on that, AMC. Oh wait, you didn’t give us one. Sure, there’s the actual time listed in the digital cable guide, but this is news worthy of a smart phone app blast. I didn’t realize that the episode had gone 8 minutes over until you saw the credits and looked at the clock to see if you had time for a potty break before switching to GoT. This is what I get for having blind faith in television producers staying in their projected time slots.
Is 8 minutes really that big of a deal? You tell us. A lot can happen in that time. You can commit adultery (Don Draper), bang a prostitute (Tyrion Lannister), do 8 minute abs (maybe Namby?), and be more or less done making box mac and cheese (all the rest of us, and the ATL staff, and pretty much every under-employed legal type).
And so I missed the first 8 minutes of GoT. Sure, if we were real upset about it, we could’ve waited ‘til the next showing, or gotten on HBO Go, or On Demand, or begged someone to tell us what happened. (As an aside, I still haven’t seen it, so that tells you how eager I am, and by extension how upset I was).
But, let’s assume, for the sake of argument, that AMC had given us (and HBO) a heads up about this running over thing. What if they called up HBO and were all, “Hey, could you delay GoT a few minutes? We’re running a little long on this premiere of Mad Men.” And HBO could’ve been all like, “Yeah sure, AMC. We know that there’s a lot of overlap in our audiences (the people who care about good TV audience), and this is a small concession to make in order to let everyone watch both shows without a stupid one hour break in the middle or delaying the whole 188 minute TV marathon by an hour.”
And because this hypothetical is already ridiculous, picture it ending with the douchiest characters from each show high-fiving: Theon Greyjoy and Pete Campbell. (Spoiler alert: this joke is much funnier if you’ve seen the latest GoT.)
Jumping into the legal analysis, this agree is, on its face, anti-competitive. As in “hey, let’s not compete over this chunk of time.” Anti-competitive collusion usually happens at the expense of the consumer and to the benefit of the business. But in this instance, if the networks had “colluded,” then everyone’s happy. The fans see all of each episode, so they’re happy, which (should) make the networks happy, and would certainly make advertisers in those last 8 minutes of Mad Men happy to not have a chunk of their audience switch over to HBO.
HBO doesn’t have much incentive to cooperate, but maybe AMC agrees to pay a portion of the last block of advertising money, or HBO just puts up a message saying “Game of Thrones has been delayed a few minutes while we wait for viewers to join us from Mad Men” and gains a lot of good will. Even viewers who don’t watch Mad Men will appreciate the gesture, and HBO can just run some filler, like cast interviews they’ve already taped, or run a promo for Louis CK’s new special.
Or even better, we could take our legally dubious collusion to the next level and send the Game of Thrones staff over to Mad Men and help them find 8 minutes to cut, because good lord that episode was slow. Maybe trim a few seconds off each of the close-ups showing Don looking—yet again—constipated? How about losing the entire thing with the wedding and the lighter? Maybe the photo shoot? The goulash? So many things. In the entire 2+ hours, Mad Men packed in about 3 moments of interest. The best thing the episode had going for it was getting all the disappointment out in one evening instead of ruining next Sunday as well. But nope, that didn’t happen, and instead we didn’t just get a poorly paced episode of Mad Men and a conflict of Game of Thrones, but I also got stuck with an assignment from BL1Y to analyze whether antitrust laws would prevent two networks from coordinating their scheduling. Thanks a lot everyone. I hope you get [spoilered] just like [spoiler] does to [spoiler] during [spoiler]’s [spoiler].