appointment television
(uh.POYNT.munt TEL.uh.vizh.un) n. Television programming for which one sets aside time to watch, either live or on videotape.

Example Citation:
The Osbournes has become part of it.

So has the tough cop drama, The Shield. And a growing number of viewers plan their schedules to see the home-improvement hit, Trading Spaces.

It's called "appointment television," an entertainment goal the basic cable industry is finally achieving. Cable no longer is merely a place to find fast-breaking news coverage, old movies or specialty programming.

Such venues still exist and are growing. But just as network viewers flock to ER, Friends, and CSI: Crime Scene Investigation cable fans now make "appointments" to see their favorite series on a regular basis.
—Dusty Saunders, "Viewers make 'appointments' on cable," Rocky Mountain News, July 6, 2002

Earliest Citation:
And everyone has to figure out how to make network television back into a hits business. The buzzword is appointment television, industry shorthand for the kind of "can't miss" shows that people make sure they're home to watch — or they tape. Appointment television translates to hit shows: "Cosby" was appointment TV, so was "Moonlighting" and "L.A. Law." Appointment television brings more viewers to the set; "The Cosby Show" single-handedly boosted Thursday night HUT levels when it debuted in 1984.
—Peggy Zeigler, "Where have all the viewers gone?," Los Angeles Times, May 1, 1988

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