Tuesday night at 9 pm ET, viewers of The Seven Year Switch will find out what happens when troubled couples swap mates in every way for two weeks.
Four couples on the verge of divorce agreed to swap spouses for a two-week experiment in which they live with a new partner in a house with only one bed. The proposition is that messing around with a stranger will somehow bring the squabbling couples back together, or make it clear they should permanently split.
A&E-owned FYI network is trying desperately hard to stand out from the hundreds of channels now on cable TV, so they appear to be embracing the voyeur route WE tv tried early this year. Their Sex Box show, where couples coupled in a soundproof booth and then received professional post-coital counseling, died sans viewers and advertisers within weeks of its first airing.
The Seven Year Switch is FYI doubling down on the formula that failed so badly with Sex Box. Four couples have agreed to the experiment that will air over 8 episodes. Participant Rachel Farris said, “I got to a point where the pain and the hurt and the disappointments had just become paralyzing. We had to break that cycle. This experiment… gave us the opportunity to do what we hadn’t had time to do on a fast track.”
It is not clear there is an audience for such a show. The Parents Television Council thinks not. Polls consistently show most Americans frown on adultery. Gallup reported in 2013 that only 6% of respondents found adultery to be morally acceptable, down a point from a poll in 2001.
The Parents Television Council thinks FYI should refund cable subscribers for the amount they are forced to spend to get the little-watched cable channel. FYI used to be the staid Biography Channel. PTC accuses FYI’s parent company A&E of a bait and switch, and they are demanding cable subscribers be given a refund for the estimated 10-15 cents each of them pays every month through cable fees to get the channel. It is estimated that through such fees, FYI rakes in $100 million per year.
Most cable subscribers do not know that their cable provider pays each channel a certain amount for each subscriber. PTC is calling for cable choice where viewers can choose their cable package on an a la carte basis; a proposition that would without a doubt shutter many little-watched cable networks.
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