Nerds of the Round Table

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TV Ratings System

I was visiting my friend Mendie’s site and she had an interesting article about how TV ratings were killing her viewing buzz.  Her post caused me to have some thoughts of my own regarding how the ratings system is damaging TV as we know it.  So be warned, by rant is below!

The problem with television as a whole is that it is too focused on immediate ratings. We are just now getting to the point where DVR numbers are also included. And in the cases of many shows (Chuck, Heroes, Caprica) the DVR numbers make a huge difference.

The other problem is that ratings might be able to account for live viewing and DVR viewing but tracking hits on the web is different. Most of the TV industry has no idea how to properly utilize the web to make TV shows successful. They put shows on their own sites or places like Hulu, but its never really advertised. Having these shows on demand is huge and you would think they’d advertise the heck out of it.

The shows that have been successful (in my opinion at least) have learned to use the internet. Season 1 of Heroes was fantastic and grew by word of mouth. They used the internet to tell parts of the story that were woven into what was shown on the broadcast. The made the shows available online for people to watch and catch up with. Missing one episode of a serialized drama like Heroes could get you lost so having the episodes available online was huge to getting people hooked. The scary thing is that the web might be what saves Heroes now. Many people overseas watch and pirate this show meaning a lot more people watch than the Nielson ratings of 4.0ish at the end would indicate.

The internet also saved Chuck which was on the verge of cancellation. And the makers of BSG and Caprica have made huge use of the web for promoting their shows and making it viewable after airing. BSG had webisodes that aired between seasons to continue the story and the Caprica mini-series movie was available to watch on SciFi’s web-site for about a month before the series premiered on cable. Just think of all those lost ratings because the system cannot properly gauge the use of the web to watch TV.

Honestly, I think NBC Universal is getting the closest to figuring out how to harness the internet, which is kind of ironic considering how slammed they are getting lately in the ratings. Maybe that’s just more proof the system is broken and needs to be modified. However, there is some hope that maybe, just maybe, networks are starting to see the value in using the web to their advantage to hype their shows and make them viewable outside a set time slot. I for one am tired of my shows getting canceled or nearly being cancelled because of their perceived lack of ratings in what could be considered to be a broken system.

One response to “TV Ratings System

  1. Pingback: The Year in Review Part 1 « Nerds of the Round Table

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