In a surprising return to prime time television, the 90's era hit show "Matlock" aired on Cleveland NBC affiliate WKYC Channel 3 Thursday night in place of repeats of regular network programming and actually beat competing shows locally, which were mostly repeats as well.
Showing the drawing power of the late Andy Griffith, the 2-hour movie beat ABC's Scandal repeat and Jimmy Kimmel Live Oscar special in the Men 25-54 demographic, according to Nielsen overnights.
It even tied Kimmel in the overall demographic of people 18 -34 years old, which is remarkable considering a good portion of that audience hadn't been born or was still in diapers when the show premiered. (For a history of "Matlock", see the links below)
Asked why a 20-year old television movie was chosen, station management explained that since the Academy Awards left Griffith out of their Oscar night memorial tribute, there had been an outpouring of indignity across social media regarding the star's omission.
"'Matlock' is one of the most requested shows we get here at the station", said the executive who added, "Then again, we don't get a lot of requests either." The executive also noted, "It's the only movie left in our library that hasn't been over-exposed in constant repeats on cable."
What the station underestimated was the devotion to The Office. Those viewers clearly vocalized their preference for re-runs of the sitcom as opposed to the iconic Matlock. Lesson learned: do not pre-empt The Office.
Despite its laser focused ratings success, the airing of the "Matlock" movie sparked debate across social media the landscape not only in Northeast Ohio, but around the world, reviving interest in the long dormant franchise. No word as to whether the station is planning a digital sub-channel with Matlock Movies running 24/7.
For more on this storied franchise and its star Andy Griffith, click on the resources below:
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