appointment television
n. Television programming for which one sets aside time to watch, either live or on videotape.
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 06, 2002
1988 (earliest)
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 01, 1988
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