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Any program (often a repeat) put in a time slot that it has no hope of winning, because whatever's on the other channel is too overwhelmingly popular to ever beat.

Occurs during Big Occasions. A variant is scheduling something special during a break in the action; for the Super Bowl, that means a replacement Halftime Show, as no one wants to miss the ads. For some other major events, it means showing segments of your own programs during the other network's commercial breaks, and convincing people to flip back and forth.

These are sometimes used to fill a Friday Night Death Slot.

Examples of No Hoper Repeat include:

  • On Super Bowl Sunday, the cable channel Animal Planet schedules a program called the "Puppy Bowl" -- basically, extended footage of puppies playing in an enclosure resembling a football stadium, along with "play-by-play" commentary (for many years provided by an actual football announcer, Harry Kalas). From the second Puppy Bowl onwards, they had a kitten halftime show.
  • The other American networks used to attempt to compete with the Super Bowl, but now that they broadcast the NFL in some way or another, they don't even try. Fox sacrificed new episodes of Til Death on Super Bowl night 2010 for instance, knowing that nobody would miss a show which was only airing because the producers wanted to get it into syndication.
  • When the famous Dallas "Who Shot J.R.?" episode was first broadcast, NBC officials joked that opposite it they would run only a card reading, "We're watching it too."
  • During the Grand Finale episode of Seinfeld, MTV interrupted programming whenever NBC went to commercial, and showed a clip from the then upcoming Animated Anthology Cartoon Sushi. The host claimed they were timing their broadcast by looking out the window of the studio, and watching the giant TV in Times Square.
    • During that episode, TV Land ran a card encouraging its viewers to turn to Seinfeld. The same was done for Everybody Loves Raymond.
    • In Australia, Seinfeld was run on two channels--one new episodes, one reruns--at about the same time. When the finale was shown here, the other channel showed only a black screen.
  • In many local markets it was assumed that either Oprah or Judge Judy will win the 4pm timeslot, so the other stations either showed local news, sitcoms, or a talk show they know won't win but will hopefully keep their viewer momentum going.
  • The US version of Whose Line Is It Anyway actually benefited from low expectations. ABC aired it Thursdays at 8:00 (7:00 Central), opposite Friends on NBC and Survivor on CBS. ABC knew Whose Line was cheap to produce and had a dedicated fanbase, and Whose Line survived much longer than if it had been expected to attract high Ratings.
  • The last few years of the MTV Video Music Awards, every MTV network (including VH-1 and digital channels such as MTV Hits and VH-1 Classic) have gone to black screen directing viewers to MTV. Before then they aired their lousiest programming (for VH-1 for instance, the run-into-the-ground TV movie The Jacksons: An American Dream) to drive viewers to the VMA's.
    • One year, MTV 2 showed a split-screen simulcast, with the MTV feed in one corner and three other "behind-the-scenes" cameras in the other boxes.
  • The Miss Venezuela gala is the Venezuelan equivalent of the Super Bowl, and attracts a wide share; the other channels know this, and either keep their usual programmation or play movies of the national and/or controversial variety. One year, the members of a popular late show decided that the best way to compete would be organizing a party to watch and mock the beauty contest, and broadcast it simultaneously. In some moments, the special got higher ratings than the contest they were watching.
  • The soccer final in Mexico, as well as some derby matches such as Chivas vs. América, are often accompanied by old Mexican movies on the other channels.
  • The Doctor Who series 4 finale "Journey's End" was hyped weeks before it was aired, with the level growing exponentially. The finale was expected to be watched by ten million people, so The BBC's rival ITV showed Kindergarten Cop against it.
    • ITV did actually put some effort into competing against Doctor Who in the show's first relaunched season in 2005. Ant & Dec's Saturday Night Takeaway aired against the first four episodes of the revival, and while it didn't beat Doctor Who, it still performed pretty well in the ratings, all things considered. ITV's next effort, Celebrity Wrestling got utterly ripped to shreds in the ratings though, and became a national joke within days. ITV subsequently realised that shows like Saturday Night Takeaway were best saved for when the BBC themselves were broadcasting No Hoper Repeats, and since then have mostly aired old films and clip shows against Doctor Who.
    • Ironically, Doctor Who was itself an example of this trope when it was broadcast against ITV's Coronation Street from 1987--1989.
  • During the 2008 Olympics, Fox8 (an Australian cable TV channel) aired almost non-stop Simpsons, Family Guy, King of the Hill, Futurama and American Dad episodes. It almost worked, until they ran out of American Dad episodes so they had repeats of the No Hoper Repeat during the extended No Hoper Repeat.
    • And Animal Planet created an Olympic-themed variant of the Puppy Bowl just for the Olympics (the Puppy Games) to run opposite the opening and closing ceremonies.
    • During the 2004 (or perhaps 2000?) Olympics, they just showed Simpsons episodes during the day. That's right, at least six hours of Simpsons episodes a day.
    • This phenomenon was itself mentioned in Futurama, when Professor Farnsworth mentions he paid to have their commercial aired during the Superbowl. Not on that channel of course.
    • Likewise, in King of the Hill, the first episode with Luanne's Manger Babies puppets has her getting airtime on Channel 86...opposite the Super Bowl, which puts Hank (cast to play God by Luanne) on a tough spot.
  • A tragic example - on 2001-09-11, a worldwide event occured. Any channel with even a tangential relationship to news reporting was airing the events non-stop, while networks like MTV (No Hoper Music Videos, mainly consisting of Destiny's Child's "Emotions" and U2's "Stuck in a Moment You Can't Get Out Of" as part of an endless loop) and Discovery Channel (No Hoper Documentaries) aired anything they could think of that didn't have to do with it... partially out of respect, and partially because they knew no one was watching (including them). Thankfully, such programming provided an opportunity to escape from the BSOD for a few minutes, if needed. Very little original programming aired on any network for at least a week.
    • One of the few bits of original programming that did air in the week following the tragedy was, of all things, Professional Wrestling: in a move that was criticized by many people, WWE (then the WWF) held a special live edition of SmackDown! just two days after 9/11 that featured matches put on just to entertain the fans (no storylines were advanced). Vince McMahon came out at the top of the show to beam with pride that it was the first such large gathering since the attacks, and painted it as a defiant showing to the terrorists that "We are not afraid!" Incidentally, the reason it was a "special live edition" was that the show was originally scheduled to tape on Tuesday... September 11. That event, naturally, got cancelled.
    • HGTV and Food Network left the air completely with still screens for two days, knowing nobody was in the mood to be instructed on anything.
    • Some PBS stations went to kids' programming for most of their broadcast days the next two weeks to give children anything to watch besides news on the regular networks.
    • For the first several hours after the attacks ESPN ran coverage from ABC News. After much soul-searching in Bristol, it was decided to air a Sports Center informing viewers of the sports events that were cancelled or otherwise affected by that grim day. Sports Center almost didn't air that day; it would have been the only day in the network's history when it didn't run at least once.
    • The Latin Grammys were to take place that evening on CBS from Los Angeles. The ceremony never took place and the awards were given out at a news conference over a month and a half later.
    • Of note, VH1 simulcasted New York City's WCBS-TV nationally, as they were the only major English-language station in the city not completely knocked off the air that day (they had a backup tower on the Empire State Building, unlike the other stations. Also, VH1 and CBS, of which WCBS was its flagship station, were co-owned at the time, allowing for the simulcast to take place).
    • In Canada, almost every major basic cable station in Canada ran news reports about the tragedy - except for youth programming channels (which continued airing repeats of their early morning shows) and public access stations (almost all of which went to a static image saying that programming was suspended).
    • Parodied by The Onion, which showed the TV listings for the week after 9/11. And they were quite accurate.
    • Nickelodeon played cartoons, as if to tell kids that even though things were bad, they were going to be okay.
    • Saturday Night Live's first episode after the attack opened with New York Firemen on stage with mayor Rudolph Giuliani saying it was OK to laugh.
    • Subverted by The Funday Pawpet Show, which usually runs on Sunday nights. The cast of the interactive show quickly gathered together that Tuesday night and did a live broadcast discussing the incident and calming people down. Both out of respect and the fact that it wasn't a 'show' perse, it was not recorded by the creators, the only known recording being a viewer made one.
  • Parodied on LateNight With Conan O'Brien which, playing opposite the Olympics on CBS, ran a segment called "Nobody's Watching", which featured antics such as Conan and Andy smoking cigarettes, Conan revealing that he wore a Hanson t-shirt under his shirt and tie, and Al Roker stopping by to confess that he hated being a weatherman.
  • Played with during the fifteenth series of Top Gear. The trio knew that one of their episodes was going to go out against The World Cup Final on both BBC and ITV, so they figured "no-one's going to be watching" so they put less effort into the episode -- not even showing a proper Power Lap -- but contains Star-in-a-Reasonably-Priced-Car records been broken twice: Rubens Barrichello on the F1 leaderboard, and Rupert Grint in the Cee'd (and breaking the Liana and Lacetti records before it).
    • The following week, Jeremy Clarkson admitted even he didn't watch it, as he was in Johannesburg at the final at the time.
  • In Australia, immediately after an election is called, the leaders of the major parties are obliged to take part in a televised debate. Unfortunately, due to bad planning, the 2010 debate ran on the same night as the finale of MasterChef, the most watched programme in Australian TV history. Eventually, everyone decided to hold the debate before the MasterChef finale so people could watch both.[1]
    • This was attempted in reverse by the George HW Bush campaign during the 1988 US presidential election. Fearing a poor debate performance against Michael Dukakis, the Bush campaign agreed to two televised debates--one to be scheduled against the Olympics and the other against baseball's National League Championship Series. However, the broadcast networks quickly accommodated the debates. NBC suspended their Olympic programming for an hour and a half, while ABC scheduled a late start for the baseball game, which was being played at Dodger Stadium on the West Coast.
    • Similarly, when it became apparent that Barack Obama's first State of the Union address would conflict with Lost's sixth season premiere, the president rescheduled. He did so again in September 2011 to first calm the GOP when he wanted to schedule a speech to Congress the night of their latest presidential debate, and then again to an earlier time the next day to get out of the way of the Saints/Packers season kickoff game.
      • Needless to say in Wisconsin and Louisiana? You didn't see that speech on NBC at all.
  • TV networks often do this to avoid competing with themselves. During important shows, other channels belonging to the same ownership group will air reruns or bottom-tier programs.
  • NBC used The Monkees special 33 1/3 Revolutions Per Monkee as this, scheduling it against the 1969 Academy Awards.
  • During the presidential election day of 2004 Cartoon Network played THE SAME EPISODE of Harvey Birdman, Attorney at Law. All. Day. Long.
  • British soap operas Eastenders and Coronation Street used to battle it out in the ratings, but now none of the soaps from the main three terrestrial channels run simultaneously. In fact, you can watch Holly Oaks, Coronation Street, Eastenders and then Emmerdale one after another.


  1. Not that anyone watched the debate anyway, but it's the thought that counts.
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