Last Month for SkyWeek TV

The last episode of the SkyWeek TV programAt the recent Northeast Astronomy Forum, many people complimented me on the SkyWeek TV program that I have been hosting since Thanksgiving 2011. I had to inform everyone that this is the last month when SkyWeek will be airing on TV and on our website; the final episode will cover the week of April 28 – May 4. To my surprise and chagrin, several people were seriously upset. A common refrain was, “I teach high school (or college) astronomy. I have been showing your video in my class every week, and the students love it. What am I going to do now?”

I’m very sorry to disappoint my loyal fans, but the economics of the program were problematic from the start and have been getting steadily worse. We can’t get nearly enough money from sponsors to cover our costs – even if you pretend that my own time is free and infinite, neither of which is true.

Let me thank the sponsors who made the show possible at all: Meade Instruments Corporation and Woodland Hills Camera & Telescopes. Also thanks to Software Bisque, who also allowed us to use their software to produce the charts and sky scenes that are so important to the show.

Let me also thank the other people who worked on the show, especially Jeff McGurren of Articulate Creation, who has done all the video editing since day one. Equally important are the assistants who gathered the images and did the animations: Michael Zolitnitski, Cat Marshall, Caitlin Stier, and the amazing multitalented Shweta Krishnan. Finally, the participation of Rob Kirwan, Senior Vice President of Powderhouse Productions, was brief but absolutely essential. It was Rob, Shweta, and Jeff who hammered out the structure and look of SkyWeek way back at the beginning. Anything you like about the show's appearance is due to them.

All of the SkyWeek episodes ever produced are online at the SkyWeek TV Archive.

In case anybody is wondering, the SkyWeek App, a completely separate product produced by Alan MacRobert, will continue unaffected by the demise of the SkyWeek TV show.

22 thoughts on “Last Month for SkyWeek TV

  1. Anthony Barreiro

    Oh, that’s sad news. I’ve enjoyed watching skyweek online. I’ve learned a lot from the videos, and they’ve given me great ideas for how to explain astronomical concepts in simple and engaging ways when I’m doing public outreach. Tony is a great host, so enthusiastic and unpretentious, with a droll sense of humor. Thanks for producing skyweek for these past two and a half years. Hopefully Sky and Telescope will be able to produce a similar video feature sometime in the near future.

  2. Steven-Bender

    I am also saddened and disappointed by this news. SkyWeek was an excellent program, and you should be very proud of it. Thank you for producing it all of these years. It will be missed.

  3. Mick-Snyder

    This is a huge disappointment – Not only have I enjoyed it but I have used this to encourage my kids and their friends to see what’s up there…

    Is it coincidence that the demise of SkyWeek TV comes soon after the takeover of S&T by its new owners? Is this just the start of cost cutting to increase the profits of the new parent company? What else will we lose? Watch this space…

  4. Tony Flanders Post author

    No, it is not a coincidence that the show was canceled after we were purchased by F+W. But frankly, their decision was clearly correct — I actually pushed them to make it. The show was a wonderful service to the public, and no doubt it yielded some intangible benefits in terms of goodwill and increased web traffic. But Sky & Telescope isn’t a charity; we are competing in a very difficult market. From a business point of view, the show was a huge money sink.

    I don’t expect any follow-on cancellations. We do provide other services for free, such as the SkyWeek App. But the total cost of all those services combined is much less than that of SkyWeek TV. And there is every indication that our core product — the magazine itself — will if anything be strengthened by the F+W acquisition.

    1. mary-figel

      Thank you Tony for all the Sky Week Presentations. I teach middle school science, and for the last year and a half we have watched each new episode on Monday mornings. It was a great way to begin our week in science and to capture the kids interest in astronomy.

      They are still asking if there are any new episodes. They were actually concerned that you may have been sick and unable to post new videos.

      Thank You again,

      Mary Figel and the St. Bede Middle School Students

  5. Michael-Walsh

    I too will greatly miss this program. It is the best out there and Tony Flanders is by far the best host/presenter. His enthusiasm for the topics always came through.

  6. Condenser-Mike

    This is really disappointing news. This show was one of the main reasons I came to the S&T website. Tony’s delivery was the best I have found for this type of content. I don’t understand the logic of removing content that drives traffic to your website. I fear the new owners have short-term profits in mind.

  7. ecarceller

    Wow, Tony, these are sad news. Watching the week’s Skyweek episode is a family event at my house… It captivates us all as we attentively listen to the info and stories you tell us. We will for sure miss it… I wish you could find a way to make it work business wise… more sponsors..? …a partnership with a University or an Observatory? Standing out from the competition should give you an edge, shouldn’t it?

  8. Gregory Falter

    Oh no! Tony, I’ve never commented before, but I’ve watched Skyweek religiously and have loved it. Not only did it oriented me for observation each week and educate me on whatever topic you discussed, but it also entertain me with your charismatic presentations. I understand the reasoning you provide above for the cancellation and respect the company’s business decision, but I want you to know, like so many others, I shall miss the show sorely. Thank you (and your staff) for so many past episodes. I shall re-visit them in the archive whenever nostalgia overcomes me and hope against hope Skyweek will someday be restored.

  9. Ben-Pewthers

    Sorry to see the program go Tony. My daughters and I always looked forward each week to catch the show. My oldest had all her fellow students at UCSC watching regularly as well. Hope to see Sky Week return in the future.

  10. James-DeCamp

    When you think about the apparently infinite budget for drek like the new Cosmos… I know we should “celebrate” anything that gets folks interested in astronomy, but all Cosmos does is get people interested in special effects and personalities. I was severely disappointed in the new Cosmos, and now this? What next? Sky and Telescope will become a coloring book?

    :(

  11. donald-bielmann

    When a magazine starts passing from owner to owner watch out for less and less magazine.I am afraid that soon the message will be,this is the final issue.I have been a subscriber of S&T since 1977 and remember the magazine when it was outstanding.The editors can spin it all they want but it has been in a downhill slide for years.Tough market,tough competition,huge money sink,what are editors for.

  12. Richard-Glassner

    I have enjoyed Skyweek each week and will miss it very much. I thank Tony and the staff who helped in the show’s preparation. I am new to astronomy during the last two years and have used Skyweek each week to learn a little more about astronomy, the constellations, and where to find things in the sky. Again, thanks to all for a great show.

  13. Denise-White

    Like the rest of the fans of the Tony Flanders weekly program, I am terribly saddened by its loss and will miss it.
    I still can’t fathom why more sponsors wouldn’t flock to get their advertisements posted on this “wildly popular” site. What a loss for them and … for us. Thank-you for the time we did enjoy with you Tony …. you were a very informative and had a great delivery.

  14. HarryZ

    Tony – My family and I were quite saddened to see your show come to an end. You were a regular part of our Monday evening ritual where my 13 year old daughter and 10 year old son would come running when they heard the Skyweek opening music. They would sit with me and watch the whole show and would recite the opening and closing lines from memory. We would then talk about some of the topics in depth and would go outside during the week nights to view some of the things you talked about. I understand the financial motivation for the cancellation, but I probably speak for many fans saying your show was superb and would be worth paying for. Have you or the S&T management looked into what sort of pricing model would make it financially successful? Perhaps you could propose it to your fans and see if the response could support the show. Thank you for all your effort creating the show. Your work is greatly appreciated. Best Regards, Harry Z

  15. Ernesto

    Tony

    Thank you for a most informative wonderful series, you will be certainly missed. I waited every week for your very educational fun presentation.

    Ernesto de Armas
    Piperton, TN

  16. Imran-Khan

    Deeply saddened to hear that the plug was pulled on SkyWeek. I always appreciated its minimalist approach; informative and visually simplistic. I usually log online to view the episodes as Trinidad and Tobago does not carry the program locally. It’s like seeing a good friend go away… Hope F&W’s Marketing Dept. can secure more sponsors to bring SkyWeek back in the near future.

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