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February 21 2009

Dollhouse fails to improve on last week. The Live Feed says it fell 15% in the ratings but adds "this is an almost-typical second-episode slip for a new series". Media Week's Marc Bernan looks at the numbers and says "unless DVR usage is significant, I would not get too used to Dollhouse". But TV Guide points out that Dollhouse's numbers grew during the hour. ETA: Zap2it says the overall rating was actually 2.7/5 which is only .1 down from last week.

The good news - that's actually a normal slip for a TV show from it's first episode (No, really). First episodes almost always do better because they have all the promotion.

The show needs to find a bigger demo than 1.7, though. It needs to be around 2.5 to survive.

Again, good news.

[ edited by gossi on 2009-02-21 18:18 ]
Im surprised I was expecting a bigger fall somewhere around 20-25%.
How is the episode doing on Itunes and Hulu?
I have to admit that I'm disappointed, I had hoped that it would do as well (or even slightly improving) on last week. Frankly I had hoped that all the buzz online, with people watching it on Hulu and downloading from iTunes would bring in new viewers.

But if Gossi says it is doing 'okay' I'll take heart. I do think that Fox is not solely interested in high Nielsen ratings, I would think that being a big iTunes download, and an attractive place for car companies to advertise, might be enough to get the show a second season. Am I too optimistic?
My hope is, that it is good enough for this timeslot to stay, specially since they should have learned that joss shows tend to have an extremly profitable afterlife on the dvd market. So that they set the production costs in relation to the dvd sells not the tv run.
I added a Media Week link to the entry.
More numbers - it built 380,000 viewers on Terminator, and grew the target demo 21 percent from Terminator: The Summer Glau Chronicles.

It got a 5% share of the 18-49 audience, compared to 6% last week.

It's down, but it's okay right now. This is going to be a weekly thing of seeing if the show builds. If it picks up over the next few weeks, it will return. If it doesn't, it won't. This show has a month or so it's audience now, and that's absolutely Joss and co's responsibility from here on out. The launch wasn't as big as I'd hoped, but thems the score.

Snugels, FOX Broadcasting Corp (the network) don't see any of the money for DVD sales as they don't get the revenue - 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment get the money. Because it isn't on their balance sheet, they literally can't count on it being big on DVD.

[ edited by gossi on 2009-02-21 18:40 ]
Do we know how the pilot did after a week of hulu and DVRing? Did that kind of thing add significantly to the numbers, or not really?
Currently Target is 50 in the top TV downloads on iTunes, however it's only been up for a few hours. I would guess by the end of today would be a lot better indicator.
Update from Hulu: The Target is already #1. Not joking. I don't understand how a show can generate such interest online but draw such a minimal live audience.
Perhaps the impact Hulu has is not as important as we thought. Also Serenity generated a lot of interest online. Didn't make a damn bit of difference in the end.
I'm depressed after reading Berman. I'm well and truly hooked only two episodes in and I really want this to succeed.

Can someone tell me what the point of this whole enterprise is? Why would someone like Joss sign up for the almost-inevitable heartbreak of doing shows for a big broadcast network? If you're a genre guy who draws cult (if devoted) numbers, then why bother? The odds are terrible. "Lost" was a fluke. "Heroes" was successful (is it still?) but Joss doesn't make things like "Heroes." If "Dollhouse" were on cable it'd be doing great, apparently. (Can't cite sources off top of my head, but it seems to be what a couple of professional observers have said.) Why is this deja vu all over again?

I hope gossi's cautious optimism is warranted - i.e., that if the show builds a bit then it'll return. But will it build?

Perseo: where on Hulu are the actual numbered rankings of most popular episodes? I feel like an idiot but I can't find it. All I get is a page where you have two columns of shows. Which column is the top? Argh.

Edited to add: Not that it apparently means much, revenue-wise, but "Ghost" has risen back to #6 on the iTunes rankings. Other popular shows that debuted that week - and since! - have come and gone. Interest among the relatively small numbers of people who buy on iTunes is high, it seems. For what it's worth. (Not so much, I guess.)

[ edited by phlebotinin on 2009-02-21 19:02 ]
Hulu streams, whilst revenue, are small business at the moment compared to TV. For example, you can be #1 on iTunes with 25,000 downloads. (Compared to, say, 25 million viewers on TV to be #1 - that's, what, 1% of the audience?). NBC post their iTunes numbers online, and they're #1 on iTunes with Heroes, so you can fact check that.

DVR numbers for "Ghost" come out on the 24th, I'm told. DVR numbers don't have as much revenue as live, since people skip the adverts. Most networks make the money back through product placement (including Terminator, which is a big DVR show), but Dollhouse has no product placement.
But will it build?

Nobody can answer that. Honestly? Probably not. But it might. Let us see.

Why would someone like Joss sign up for the almost-inevitable heartbreak of doing shows for a big broadcast network?

His 8 figure pay cheque? Employing a load of people he knows, putting loads of people in work? A chance?

[ edited by gossi on 2009-02-21 19:03 ]
Phlebotinin,

http://www.hulu.com/popular/episodes/today

Simon, I understand that it doesn't make a bit of difference, but it should be an indicator in scale of a show's success. If you're no. 1 on Hulu or ITunes or wherever, I would expect at the least a decent showing on TV. Not no. 1 either, but not this low. I still think Dollhouse on another night would have had different numbers. Let's hope for DVR and C3 numbers.
Besides, in this case, Joss had no other choice but Fox as Eliza still has a contract with them. If Fox didn't go for the show the show wouldn't have happened. Been a while since I've seen a mention of this, so correct me if I'm wrong.
Perseo, one of the most popular shows online is Battlestar. That struggles to get 2 million viewers on air. Online does not equal popular outside of geeks.

That said, being #1 on Hulu and iTunes is absolutely something to be proud of, as it helps them build a brand around the show. The networks notice. They might not notice a lot of money, but they notice.

bob, you're absolutely correct. Eliza has a talent holding deal with FOX, which ties her to the network.

[ edited by gossi on 2009-02-21 19:09 ]
Why would someone like Joss sign up for the almost-inevitable heartbreak of doing shows for a big broadcast network?

It's what he does. Someone like Joss? He makes TV programmes, Cabin In The Woods notwithstanding if you're a TV Producer you have to go where the audiences, the money and the risk is. A smaller network may not have taken a punt on something like Dollhouse.

I was thinking the fall would be bigger, let's hope it picks up but people will have to be lured back and I don't know how they would achieve that, short of changing their promotional stance.
but Dollhouse has no product placement.

Western Digital Hard Drives. For when you have to download a whole personality, trust Western Digital!
(Hard drives may overheat. Use caution. Do not bounce.)
Phlebotinin - wow, that's interesting that the pilot has stayed strong on iTunes. I guess that's the upside of a serialized TV show, at least in the beginning, when many folks want to (and can still) catch up.

Color me also cautiously optimistic. This is why - I frankly don't think the numbers are that good, but for late night Friday they seem pretty good. The concrete question for Fox is: "Will another show in this timeslot on Friday nights do better than Dollhouse is doing now?" And factor in the costs of developing and launching a new show. Apparently, "Ghost" had the highest ratings of any new show for Fox on Friday nights.

So yes, I'm cautiously optimistic.
zz9, there's a line in the next episode after Alpha stabs a load of people and Topher tries to wipe him - "I should have wiped them with a Mac!". (Lie).

[ edited by gossi on 2009-02-21 19:18 ]
Do you know if they made a conscious decision to not have product placement, gossi? Or did it just not... come up?
Gossi, I know about Battlestar, but isn't BSG on cable? Meaning, attracts niche cable audience live but huge FREE online following. Being Dollhouse on a major network, the same people who see it on Hulu or buy it on Itunes should be even more willing to follow it live. That's why I think Friday night is punishing it more than any other night would. Anyway, let's hope Internet and DVR success will be enough.

On the why-Joss-on-Fox-why front, one word only.. Eliza. I'd follow that woman to Hell, let alone Fox, which might be the exact same thing, now that I think of it.
No clue Jobo. They could sneak some condoms in!

Perseo, Friday night is *absolutely definitely* damaging Dollhouse in terms of live audience, but the network know that. They've put it on Friday to see if it can quietly grow itself somewhere. I'm not at all surprised by the numbers it's getting, if I'm honest, 'cause it's targeted at young males, who are often busy on Friday night. (Contrast - by the way - to the UK: if you have an young adult show here, you put it on Friday). I didn't expect the show to be incredibly popular live based on Hulu, though.

And by the way, 99% of shows don't grow an audience after one episode. It takes time for buzz to build. Something Dollhouse does have in it's favour - buzz. Once they get a bit less standalone, there's some stuff people will be talkin' about.

[ edited by gossi on 2009-02-21 19:27 ]
There was a big article about product placement with Joss-quotes woven in some time ago. He said about Dollhouse that he would do small things, but not have the characters talk about the stuff, IIRC. Anyone know which interview I mean?
wiesengrund, I know the one you mean.

I watch 30 Rock, Heroes and The Office obsessively - in fact, it's almost all I watch - and all 3 of those shows are huge, huge product placement shows. From Sprint phones to Nissan cars to Hooters to Dennys to whatever, those shows are earning the bucks. And, you know, I actually don't mind at all.
Once again, let's try to be realistic. Last week we said DH had to keep a 2.0 rating to have a chance. This week it's 1.7. So these ratings are pretty bad, and Dollhouse, if it stays under 2.0, will be canceled, as Fox can do the same with cheaper shows or repeats.
And, I really don't see how it's going to grow now. And I can't seem to think that hope is now just wishful thinking.
That's why I think Fox should try an episode in another timeslot, to see how it fares in a more audience-prolific night. If a show is targeted at young males, do you schedule it when young males are out ? I understand Fox wants a slow growth, but I'm not sure a growth is possible on Friday. Buzz it is, but if one had to judge from online user comments, it's not a good one. By the way, I'm astonished at the level of venom spewed against both the show and Joss, as if anyone had a vested interest in getting Dollhouse cancelled. I don't get it.
Perseo, I know plenty of Buffy fans who either don't know about Dollhouse or don't care. Fact is, people will slate Dollhouse, because they aren't invested. Exactly the same happened with Firefly in 2002. A bunch of Buffy fans started a forum called "Fireflop", for example, and I know many of them aimed to have it cancelled so Joss would return to Buffy. People have these memories of everybody loving Firefly, but - you know - when it debuted, the reaction online was muted to a huge degree, and much of it was very, very negative. Go back and read the Whedonesque topics for 2002, where we did exactly the same as we're doing now, even down the ratings. Most people didn't care if it was gonna get canned. It's just the way of the world. Once people started lovin' Wash, Jayne, Kaylee etc - that's when the fear started to take hold that it might get cancelled with some people. And then it was.

Léo, you can't write off a show which has 1.7 in the demo after two episodes have aired. FOX knew full well Dollhouse may well be a business disaster: that's why they moved it to Friday. Let's be absolutely clear about that. They knew it wasn't going to be a big TV hit, and the faith isn't there. But it might grow an audience. We don't know. We have to see.
Damnit. How hard is it for these people who watch it on Hulu to watch it live? Grr...
Perseo: Online hate fests are apparently a lot of fun. They must be a release valve for many people, kinda like the 5 Minute Hates of Orwell's 1984 (or was it 15 Minutes?). I think many of the hate spewers online don't really know much about Joss or his shows and don't really ultimately care. It's all about the joy of tearing someone else down. Just pick up a rock and join in the bashing fun.

Okay, fine, everyone. Joss is doing what Joss does. Joss makes TV programs for broadcast networks. He helps his friends, puts others to work, earns a huge paycheck, and hopes for the (extraordinarily slight) chance to be a ratings success and not have his creation die. Great for him, not so great for the devoted viewer, unless you don't mind having stories stopped midway through.

Do I wish Firefly were never made because it only got 14 episodes? Absolutely not. Will I regret Dollhouse being made if it only ever gets 13 episodes? No, absolutely not. But still. All I'm asking is why he wouldn't pursue making programs on cable. Okay, this thing happened with Eliza and she's with Fox. Fine. But is it so wrong to wish that the man's shows could actually get the full airings I think they deserve? What makes Ron Moore so special that he gets 4 seasons of Battlestar and gets to tell his story from beginning to end despite struggling to get 2 million per episode? What makes David Simon so special that he gets to tell 5 seasons of The Wire while averaging only a little over a million viewers per episode? Oh, right, it's because they're both on cable. Joss has said recently that no one on cable has ever approached him. Fine. So I guess his people can't approach cable, then. I guess that's that?
SteppeMerc, even if everybody who watched it Hulu watched it live, I doubt it's a large audience, and it would only impact things if those viewers had Nielsen boxes or Nielsen log books. It's actually better you watch (legally) online if you're not a Nielsen family, as the network knows you're watching then. It boosts their figures.
Nick C apparently has access to the C3 numbers and has good things to say about Dollhouse:

Well last week DOLLHOUSE was 2nd overall in the C3 listings behind 20/20. This week it should be tied for first or in second.

That is all FOX is going to care about. Now when new shows come back it’s going to be in trouble if it doesn’t build on its audience. I also hear it did well for HULU meaning around $1M in revenue for the season from that if the numbers hold to what they’re expecting.

I think DOLLHOUSE is in an ok position. TSCC however… it is very possible the show will be replaced before finishing out. Bill makes a decent point about previous shows getting a 1.4 and 1.5 in that slot for FOX. However FOX is sitting on DOLLHOUSE which is getting numbers that are on the verge of being what they want. If they stick with TSCC it might be too late by the time PRISON BREAK comes and provides a better lead in for DOLLHOUSE.

We all knew DOLLHOUSE would drop. FOX knew it. We knew it. So now it’s at 1.7. It has to hold out there. If it drops to a 1.6 or 1.5 the show will definitely not be renewed. The 1.7 means the show has a fighting chance. If it steadies at 1.7 and can build up to a 1.8 or 1.9 by seasons end it will likely get picked up for a 2nd season.

The way C3 numbers went last week every show DROPPED in the demo by .1 or as much as .3. DOLLHOUSE on the other hand went UP in the demo by .2. So it had a 2.2 in the demo last week, while all other shows were below it but 20/20. This week if it even goes up only .1 to a 1.8, that 1.8 should be enough for a tie for 1st or a 2nd place finish. FOX isn’t going to complain about that.

People need to remember the overalls don’t matter. The demo does.


Remote-Free-TV seems to work. Fox will like that.

[ edited by wiesengrund on 2009-02-21 19:53 ]
Anyone else think Joss would've had better luck with this show on the CW? Those numbers seem like they'd be a hit for that network.
Clearly the Friday timeslot is a double-edged sword. On the one hand, there is a smaller overall audience and it's not really the target audience so there will be lower numbers than on a typical weekday. On the other hand, because there are fewer people watching, the expectations and the level considered a success are lower.

So, I guess it's a two-handed, double-edged sword. Let's just hope it's not an axe.
In that case gossi, can't they do both, like I do? ;)

I also think we need to find out who these Neilson people are and 'persuade' them to watch Dollhouse.
Anyone else think Joss would've had better luck with this show on the CW? Those numbers seem like they'd be a hit for that network.
WTF are "C3 numbers"?
Heard you the first time Riker ;) But no, I don't think so. No one watches the CW, so the numbers would be even less, I think. Plus Eliza has (or had) a contract with Fox.
I think there could be a possibility that the numbers are somehow underreported. It's a big speculation, so correct me if I am wrong. I'm not quite sure how the representatives for neilson are chosen. If they are required to watch television regularly, the audience might exclude those like me who have been turned off to television nowadays, and have only really started watching TV again when news of Dollhouse came out.
The "C" stands for "commercial viewing", so these ratings measure how many people actually watched the commercials. The "3" means live numbers, plus three days of DVR viewing. These are the numbers that the networks use to sell ads. Unfortunately, they are not released to the public.

ETA Nick C's explanation:

DOLLHOUSE is not dead. REALITY:

Overall numbers are worthless. TV networks make their money off advertisements. The adverts are based on the C3 listing. C3 is COMMERCIALS watched over a 3 day period (counting DVR usage). C3 is based on the 18-49 Demo.

So when people on here say incredibly stupid things like “flashpoint repeat got double the viewers than DH new episode… just WOW,” it’s incredibly off base. They both scored the exact same in the demo. So when either network is negotiating prices on advert time slots, they’re going to be similar.

DOLLHOUSE also uses “Remote Free TV,” which is only 60 second and 90 second commercial breaks. FRINGE does the same thing. So far both shows get higher demo scores on the C3 list than they score on “Live + SD.” The vast majority of other shows either stay the same or drop .1. However some shows like FOX’s previous Friday night lineups drop about .2 or .3. So FOX is feeling good about DOLLHOUSE.

The 1.7 DOLLHOUSE got last night is higher than the best nights of the shows previously aired in its time slot.

TSCC on the other hand is getting lower demos than the shows it replaced in its time slot.


(I'm not saying everything that guy says is the truth and gold, but if he has seen the C3 numbers, he has seen more than most people reporting and discussing the demo ratings...)

[ edited by wiesengrund on 2009-02-21 20:04 ]
I'm sad about this because Dollhouse is a great show and can only get better and I wanted them to have enough of a demo to get a one off after AI.

I know some Buffy fans we refuse to watch anything Joss again because of Tara and Spuffy. Also there are some people who hate Fox enough because of what happened with Firefly to never watch anything on fox even Dollhouse. There are also some people who are too afraid of cancellation to watch the show. They are waiting for the DVD sales.
mysteryshadesman, there's always speculation Nielsen numbers aren't accurate, but the reality is the measurement FOX uses to sell adverts, and it's the measurement advertisers use. So it doesn't matter 1% if we think it's wrong - it's all there is.

Nick C, I find curious. I believe Nielsen C3 stats are made available 3 weeks later. So how he could have them I don't know. On Feb 14th (one day after it aired!) Nick posted saying it would come 2nd after 20/20 in the C3 charts, which is exactly what he's saying now. I think he may be talking bullshit. I hope I'm wrong.

Septimus, the problem with the Friday night expectation thing is that it doesn't decrease the cost of the show, the sets etc. If Dollhouse had got these ratings on Monday night, it would be off the air now. But at the same time, they still need to make money. At the minute, Dollhouse won't be making them money. That's the issue.

[ edited by gossi on 2009-02-21 20:06 ]

[ edited by gossi on 2009-02-21 20:23 ]
beckyboo, all those folks have no right to call themselves fans, I think. Seriously, what sort of person says "I think this show will fail, so I'm not going to support it?"
beckyboo, all those folks have no right to call themselves fans, I think. Seriously, what sort of person says "I think this show will fail, so I'm not going to support it?"

One doesn't need to be rabid about everything Joss does to be considered a fan of some of what he does.
beckyboo, all those folks have no right to call themselves fans, I think. Seriously, what sort of person says "I think this show will fail, so I'm not going to support it?"

I find more troubling that there are "fans" who apparently are still holding a grudge over a story development six years later, according to beckyboo. That's just...crazy. Waiting for the DVDs is a choice I can understand.

[ edited by nyrk on 2009-02-21 20:14 ]
SteppeMerc , I hit "back" on my browser and accidentally reposted it.

As for the CW, it's a small network and its ratings standards aren't as high--that's why shows like Gossip Girl, Veronica Mars, 90210, and Supernatural lasted longer than shows like Firely.

I get that Eliza had a deal with Fox..but if she hadn't, I think the CW would've been a good fit for Dollhouse.
Buffy thrived on the old WB for the same reasons, didn't it?
Exactly, nyrk!

As for reasons why Joss fans might not be watching DH, well, there are some fans who are a little disappointed he'd do a show like DH instead of a show set in the Buffyverse.
According to the Seattle Post Intelligencer the ratings for Dollhouse grew over the course of the hour which is a good sign.
b!x, I reckon you and I have different notions of being a fan then. For example, I barely consider people who just have watched the movies of Star Wars and liked them fans, as opposed to digging deeper into the books, comics and games out there. I see the same for Joss. Anyone who wants more Buffyverse should simply buy the excellent Season 8, and anyone that doesn't do so just because its a comic, I really have to question their fanhood.

But since I'm gonna be stepping on some toes, I'll shut up.
I dunno, though, Steppe. I think someone could be a huge Star Wars fan, but believe that they're only interested in Lucas's version of the series. They'd still be a fan in my eyes. Same with Buffy and the comics. Yeah, it's still Joss, but maybe they're only interested in seeing it with the actors they've come to love inhabiting the roles. I wouldn't say they're not fans. They're just fans for different reasons than you are.
Ouch, I think my toes just got squashed! Well, I'm not going to quibble with anybody's idea of what a "fan" is. I like some of Joss's stuff more than other stuff, and I haven't gotten round to the comics (I loved Buffy but I guess I wouldn't say I want "more" - it felt complete to me). But I'm definitely checking out Dollhouse and rooting for its survival because it's Joss Whedon. I hang out here obsessively more because I find you all so entertaining than because I need to be up-to-date on everything whedony ;) but I call myself a fan, since I don't know what a better word would be. It would never occur to me to wonder whether or not I had a "right" to call myself a fan, but it's kind of a funny idea!

I'm OK with having my fanhood questioned, though ;).
Another reason why some of us aren't watching live is because some of us don't have televisions that do anything other than play DVDs... So we have to either go to our mom's house and use her DVR or watch online on Hulu.

I don't understand the INCREDIBLY negative backlash from the critics though. Yes, the first episode wasn't impressive to me (and no, I haven't seen the second one yet - I'm going to watch it tonight - it wasn't up yet last night when I checked), but I was intrigued. I'm willing to wait it out. And it wasn't BAD TV - people watch far worse shows for far longer...
Oh no, everyone has the right to call themselves a fan, unless they try and sabotage Joss' works (not watching Dollhouse cause Fox will cancel it.. I mean for goodness sakes, how hard is it to sit down and watch an hour of TV, or at least do it on Hulu). I just may not call some people a fan in my own head, though if you're wondering, you'd qualify. ;)

Jobo, as for Lucas' vision of Star Wars... frankly many of the EU stories (Knights of the Old Republic video game, the Legacy comics) are better than his, especially the prequels. But my favorite movie was always Empire, which wasn't directed by him, so perhaps is not uprising I'm not a huge fan of his vision, as its to CGI intensive for my tastes ;) And while I love the Buffy verse actors, it was the characters that did it for me, moreso than the actors (well with the exception of a major few). Interestingly this is different from how I view the Firefly folk, since I'd watch Summer in anything, and I'm willing to try out Castle despite looking less than great for Nathan.
I just may not call some people a fan in my own head, though if you're wondering, you'd qualify. ;)

Whew! ;)
I'm watching Dollhouse, even though I prefer Flashpoint (which I can watch later on line). I can't get Hulu, and Dollhouse isn't on Rogers on Demand, so if I miss it, I miss it. I do, on occasion, go out on a Friday night.

Not that my viewing matters, since I live in Canada.

I'm trying to be a good Joss fan. I just don't care for the series. It's like it's Joss' Harsh Realm (which I bought on DVD anyway, cause it's Chris Carter). I tend to be loyal to the people I love.

I'm hoping that I'll turn around and find something I like in the series. I really do.
Why would someone like Joss sign up for the almost-inevitable heartbreak of doing shows for a big broadcast network?

because Eliza asked him.
SteppeMerc, I really don't see how being a fan of Joss's previous work somehow obligates you to invest time in Dollhouse if you don't even know whether it'll pay off. That's not my attitude - I'm watching and I'll be grateful for whatever we end up getting, half a season or seven - but I don't have a problem with people who do see it that way, and I don't think you have the "right" to tell other people they can't call themselves fans.

Someone writing letters to Fox demanding it be cancelled, that's sabotage. Simply not watching? Isn't.
I think people seem to forget the the Nielson ratings tend to be a smalled metered sampling of the top 10-20 markets. Which is not really all that inclusive of viewers, as has been pointed out on numerious occassions over the years. Or has everyone forgot the fallout when they expanded there meter base to include more minorities. Only to drop the expansion back to the old numbers, a few months into the new season, because of the overall viewers drop off of network programming was to substanial. The old way for Nielson is still - old and antiquated and does not represent the new viewers. Personally, even though FOX is watching the numbers, I think it will be more interested in the DVR, internet, and iTunes numbers. FOX is not stupid, they realize the Joss's fans are the foreward thinking kind, meaning we embrace technology and they want to capitalize on it the way they first capitalized on the TV Shows on DVD market. I think if FOX is smart it will look at adopting the formula that a lot of cable series have done. Cut to 13-15 episode seasons, let it build on those with places like iTunes and hulu, add the DVD release between the seasons. I think you will see FOX may be looking at the larger area that Joss could take them to, the internet.

I am no longer concerned as much with overnight numbers, a lot of shows have been slated for the chopping block only to survive another day because of the bump from 7 day DVR viewing. Has anyone reported those numbers from last week, plus who reports weekly hulu numbers and iTunes sales. It's not about the tv viewing audience anymore, it's about where the viewing audience is watching from and how to take advantage of that, be it product placement or pop-up ads. The alterative viewing tends to kill reality programming, but story telling seems to keep people coming back.

What is going to be more fun is the fact that they have not even quantified the viewer loss because of digital conversion. One major issue, the digital signal strength is not as powful or as adaptable as the analog strength. Which goes along with the fact that many FOX affilate stations do not have the signal strength to broadcast easily beyond a 15 mile range in many areas. If you have cable or dish you are fine but it you have over the air signal your viewing may be effected, this is inparticular in areas that are more hill/valley terrain than flat lands. Also most of the stations that are converting early are the affilated that have the weaker signals in the area. Which includes FOX stations.

The future of television is changing and it is about time the networks caught up.
FOX is not stupid, they realize the Joss's fans are the foreward thinking kind...

They also realize that Joss' fans on their own are not enough to keep a television program afloat, and so what matters is if regular viewers aren't the forward thinking kind, and so the small numbers watching when it's on TV are all there are of them.

[ edited by The One True b!X on 2009-02-21 21:41 ]
Then Joss should go underground and sell massive loads of Hulu, iTunes and dvd episodes. Damn those FOXes out there.
For anyone interested in how the might be affected by the digital converison of stations that has begun can go here, to view the map of their area.

Here's the lovely little caviat ...

"Actual signal strength may vary based on a variety of factors, including, but not limited to, building construction, neighboring buildings and trees, weather, and specific reception hardware. Your signal strength may be significantly lower in extremely hilly areas."

I live 20 miles outside the city and in a hilly area and I cannot get my local FOX digital station without cable or dish.
FWIW, the DTV conversion is why sweeps isn't in February this year, but instead in March. (Of course, then the government went and pushed DTV back a few months anyway.)
gossi, re: "no product placement"

'Ghost' had a scene where a car drove up and stopped immediately in front of the camera, prominently showing the logo of the car company. I remember wondering if the car company paid for that shot...?
'Ghost' had a scene where a car drove up and stopped immediately in front of the camera, prominently showing the logo of the car company. I remember wondering if the car company paid for that shot...?

Although when a TV show studiously avoids showing product labels, I find that as off-putting as when they too-ostentatiously show them off. Remember the post-it over Willow's Mac logo? It looks so obviously "hey, fork over the money and we'll show the logo!"

The real world is full of logos (for better or for worse): if you want to show a world that simulates the real one, it should have a least a fair sprinkling of recognizable logos/products in it.
SteveP, I've just checked - yep, it's a (very shiny) BMW. Dunno if they got paid for it not. They don't quite camera f~@k the logo like Drive did.
I haven't been very impressed it with so frankly I won't be sad to see it go. The sooner it's done the sooner Joss can move on to do something more worthwhile, like a movie or a better series. Last night's ep was an improvement but let's face it, this ain't Firefly. I say good riddance.

[ edited by kerfuffle on 2009-02-21 23:48 ]
From earlier:

Why would someone like Joss sign up for the almost-inevitable heartbreak of doing shows for a big broadcast network?

because Eliza asked him.

- So I'm already designing the new line of "I blame Eliza" t-shirts. Get yours now before they're all gone!
kerfuffle, I hope that when Joss next does something you do like, there are people posting online that "the sooner it's done the better" and "good riddance" where you can read it. ;)
Ah, B!X I'm sorry. That was a bit rude and a bit harsh of me. I'm just very disappointed in this show. I was so looking forward to it but it hasn't lived up to my expectations. I just expected to immediately love it the way I've loved everything else that Joss has done. Maybe I just need to give it a some time to grow on me.
:(
I haven't been very impressed it with so frankly I won't be sad to see it go. The sooner it's done the sooner Joss can move on to do something more worthwhile, like a movie or a better series. Last night's ep was an improvement but let's face it, this ain't Firefly. I say good riddance.


That's harsh. I'd hate for someone to say that about something I'm working on and am passionate about.
(Don't get me wrong, I have no problem with the show not being "all that" for some people. Just to make sure no one mistakes my counter-snark as me saying people have to like the show.)
Does anyone know where I can find the trailer for the next episode ("Stage Fright")? I only got the chance to see the episode on Hulu this morning, so no preview.
Up to #12 on iTunes now, and it was #50 the last time I checked. Woot!
kerfuffle, I try not to expect to love everything somebody does. Sooner or later they'll do something different (and make no mistake, Dollhouse is different) and disappoint me. That said, I'm lucky; I like Dollhouse.

By the way, just revisiting that Nick C thing from TvByTheNumbers -- I checked, according to TV Week Nielsen publish the C3 numbers 3 weeks after broadcast. They aren't available yet. So add this to the Joss-loves-JJ thing, Serenity 2 etc Nick C has said.

Numbers wise, Dollhouse is under performing. It's great it's holding it's audience (in particular, lovely it grew it's audience during the last half hour of The Target), but it needs more viewers. If we had another 2 million, we'd get a second series easy.
I keep hearing how its under-performing, but its WORST numbers are the best numbers ever for a show in its time-slot.
Anyone know if the ratings are on par with or higher than Tru Calling? Maybe Eliza is a little much on a weekly basis for some people.
but its WORST numbers are the best numbers ever for a show in its time-slot.

How do you figure that? Firefly did better, to name one.
but its WORST numbers are the best numbers ever for a show in its time-slot.

How do you figure that? Firefly did better, to name one.


Shhh...the imprinting of the Fox Execs has to begin somewhere...
Bones is gone for three weeks. Couldn't they air one episode of Bones on, say, March 6th, when sweeps starts? It's pretty standalone, so one off-timeslot airing probably wouldn't hurt it. I don't see what else they could use to boost the Friday numbers.

[ edited by hacksaway on 2009-02-22 00:39 ]
Firefly did not air in the same timeslot and I should've put it in quotes as its the TVByTheNumbers link that says that (and they mean specifically for Fox, I am sure).

[ edited by zeitgeist on 2009-02-22 00:32 ]
I don't think, realistically, with these numbers that Fox is going to try Dollhouse on another night during sweeps.

No matter what, we at least have a shiny new Whedon DVD set to look forward to!
I'm worried about the upcoming episode. Let's say a bunch of people hear that The Target was awesome, and so tune in this coming week... they get the pop diva episode. Which could be good, I'm sure, but conceptually it's bringing to mind some of my not-so-favorite episodes of Quantum Leap.

Ah well. It's Jed and Maurissa, so I'm sure it will be worthwhile. I just wonder if the concept my be off-putting to people who were gonna watch based on the Target buzz.
Firefly did not air in the same timeslot

Good point. Has FOX really never had a show this strong in the Friday 9pm timeslot before, then? Because if that's correct it's a good PR line they can roll out. (50% of exec's jobs is selling the idea things are good to their bosses, after all).
Which could be good, I'm sure, but conceptually it's bringing to mind some of my not-so-favorite episodes of Quantum Leap.

Yeah, but it seems like such an absurdly cheesy "Charlies Angels"-ish idea that I assume it has to be justified in some weird and wonderful or deeply ironic way. Right?

I just hope it's not that she's been hired as a bodyguard for the singer...
I haven't really dug deep into it, but if its true, coupled with the C3 and specific demo numbers then a lot of people are being really negative unnecessarily.

Also of note:

At 9p, the series premiere of DOLLHOUSE increased to a 2.0/6 among Adults 18-49, ranking No. 2 in its time period among Adults 18-49 and Adults 18-34 and No. 1 among Male demos. DOLLHOUSE built upon its 8p lead-in by +54% among Adults 18-49 (2.0/6 vs. 1.3/5), by +55% among Adults 18-34 (1.7/6 vs. 1.1/4) and by +27% among Total Viewers (4.7 vs. 3.7 Mil.) while delivering FOX’s highest rated Friday series premiere in over four years (since 1/14/05, Jonny Zero) among Adults 18-49 and Adults 18-34.

The series debut of DOLLHOUSE also out-delivered FOX’s prior season average in the Friday 9p hour by +25% among Adults 18-49 (2.0/6 vs. 1.6/5) and by +21% among Adults 18-34 (1.7/6 vs. 1.4/5). Finally, DOLLHOUSE was the highest rated Friday FOX entertainment telecast of the broadcast season among Adults 18-49.


From this link.
Firefly's ratings were bad for comparable shows at that time, but network tv has lost viewers across the board since the writers' strike last year (they could have projected that result from forcing the writers' to strike). So even though Dollhouse is doing worse than Firefly, it is still doing better than comparable shows on Friday night for the current viewing climate (evidently). I guess it comes down to advertising dollars, which makes sense, and it isn't like advertisers can demand the ratings that they would have gotten before the writers' strike.

And I have to say that the seemingly 'cheesy' plots don't bother me when they are just hooks upon which to hang really powerful emotional stories, and in which to thread an increasingly complex set of subplots. I'm sorry that others aren't enjoying this show, but I am really in love, already.
I believe she is snot monster. Some of the reviews for the following episodes (3,4) have been far less enthusiastic than they were for "the Target "so I'am a little concerned.

Does anyone know when critics will recieve episodes 5 and 6?
I'm already falling hard for this show and I hope Fox truly gives it a chance to grow an audience. This second episode was really great and Eliza was great in it. Hopefully the dvr numbers will be good. With BSG ending, Dollhouse continuing on will help fill that void for me.
And I have to say that the seemingly 'cheesy' plots don't bother me when they are just hooks upon which to hang really powerful emotional stories, and in which to thread an increasingly complex set of subplots. I'm sorry that others aren't enjoying this show, but I am really in love, already.

Hey, I was hooked from the pilot on. And I agree that cheesy plots can still be vehicles for great stories. Still...Echo goes underground as backup singer/bodyguard is the kind of well that even going to once could be once too often.
I'm surrounded by mountains, and FOX's signal came out really good. It was the SCI-FI Channel that was giving me problems while watching BSG. It had a lot of snow in the picture (and I'm on cable). As for Dollhouse's ratings, if after airing the fourth or fifth episode, and the ratings are still going down, then I will start worring about Dollhouse getting the axe.
Hey, ep 3 is about fans, too.
I agree, while I was excited at Comic Con to find out that Eliza will be singing, the next episode looks not so good. I'm sorry, but I couldn't care less if a person like that that makes such horrid 'music' is attacked by a fan. I would have hoped Joss would at least make it a decent, actual talent required music, but no. Sigh.
Hang on, was there not some sort of digital switch over this week? Did Nielsen take that into account - see straw, must clutch.
Simon, Congress delayed the date requiring that local affiliates switch to digital, but a lot of stations switched anyway. I have no idea what sort of proportion of all the stations nationwide it was or how many were FOX affiliates, though.
After a little digging it looks like about a third of stations have switched. But it looks like that figure includes stations that switched before last week.
So "The Target" has moved to #6 on the Top 10 TV Shows on iTunes...AND "Ghost" is still at #8.

That may not mean much in revenue but it's gotta mean something in prestige. I don't remember seeing two episodes of the same series in the Top 10 at the same time. I haven't been tracking that specifically, but still. I'm a regular consumer of TV iTunes and I check out the Top 10 a lot. Huh.

Edited to add: Both "The Target" and "Ghost" are still doing gangbusters at Hulu, too. Although I see no absolute numbered rankings on Hulu's Top Episodes page, "The Target" appears at the top of the left-hand column. What that means relative to the right-hand column I don't know. Anyone care to elaborate on that? Does one zig back and forth from columns per row, or does one go all the way down one column and up the next? For some reason the lack of absolute clarity on that score is driving me mental.

[ edited by phlebotinin on 2009-02-22 01:21 ]
I'm sorry, but I couldn't care less if a person like that that makes such horrid 'music' is attacked by a fan.

You know, I heard that exact sentence said about Joss once, except the word 'music' was swapped for 'TV'.

Simon, the DTV swap just happened in some areas and the ratings did go down slightly, but it looks like the impact was minor.

phlebotinin, NBC's Kevin Reilly put another series of "The Office" into production off the back of iTunes sales. He then left NBC and joined FOX, and is - oh - the boss of Joss/Dollhouse.

[ edited by gossi on 2009-02-22 01:23 ]
Thanks, gossi. I actually knew that about Reilly and "The Office." (I was a fan of the show since the days when the only place it was doing well was on iTunes.) I'd raised that story before hoping that it would show analogous promise for Dollhouse's future but no one bit. So you think clear iTunes success for Dollhouse could really make a difference? I'd say that the first episode was not surprisingly an iTunes hit. But the second? That says something beyond novelty. I think.

Gossi: Are we to assume that Reilly is one of Fox's supporters of Dollhouse (rather than one of the executives who apparently are displeased with it)?

[ edited by phlebotinin on 2009-02-22 01:27 ]
I'm going to stop reading TVbytheNumbers. I've never read so much bile - so many people arguing about whether a show deserves cancellation or not. Part of the reason I don't like it is that I don't like the US system in which the shows I start watching are in danger of being taken off the air at any point, even before the end of the first season. But regardless, I don't see why anyone would put so much energy and anger in to campaigning for a show to fail. I'm going to hope I can enjoy all 13 episodes of Dollhouse. Heck, there's plenty of things I love that are in shorter form than that. If we get more, then great. But I need to stop obsessing about viewing figures when I don't know what they mean, and listening to angry hostile people ranting about how awful the show is and how it won't be around much longer.
flugufrelsarinn - are you sure you don't mean one of the other links? TVByTheNumbers has good things to say.
The problem with The Office and Dollhouse is cost. Dollhouse is, like, not at the end of cheap. That's why when people say "take it to the CW!", the idea fails immediately - they wouldn't be able to afford the set, let alone the actors. So, will iTunes alone make Dollhouse viable? Absolutely not. If you're #1 on iTunes for a week, you've sold about 25k copies, which is about $12k in revenue - from a cost of about $2m an episode, minus marketing etc. Will it help? Yeah.

As to if he thinks Dollhouse will fly... erm... From the interviews he's given, not so much.

zeit, I think they mean the comments in TVByTheNumbers. The problem with TV ratings websites is this: you have to COMPLETELY divorce yourself from the show. It doesn't matter if you like it or want it to succeed, it's all about the numbers, and so profit, loss and return of investment.

[ edited by gossi on 2009-02-22 01:34 ]
Hopefully that's good news Phlebotinin and that Fox is paying attention to the Itune numbers.
zeitgeist - No I meant TVbytheNumbers. Maybe I won't stop reading the website itself, but I yet again read all the comments on the thread and for the second week running it's really upset me.
flugufrelsarinn, ignore the comments. Many of the people posting are ill informed idiots. Send Kevin Smith around to their houses.
Ha, ironically gossi I just watched Zack & Miri Make a Porno, so liking the Kevin Smith reference. The comments over there just make such a stark contrast to the posters over here who are generally thoughtful, polite and intelligent.
SteppeMerc: "... but I couldn't care less if a person like that that makes such horrid 'music' is attacked by a fan."

Wowsers, my young man-friend - is this completely tongue-in-cheek? I'm everso-sincerely hoping so...
I too, think some minor product placement wouldn't hurt. I expect to see people drinking a can of Coke or Pepsi, I expect to see Beer or Vodka logos in a bar scene. I expect cars to be branded... and bikes.

I also am concerned about the next episode, as I feel that the buzz from ep 2 will be much greater than that of ep 1 due to intrigue and thrill factor.
Also. Does anyone know how many viewers DH gained in the second half hour?
Well thefutoncritic says it went down slightly in the demo for the second half hour.
Next up was FOX (adults 18-49: 1.5, #3) with its week two combination of "Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles" (adults 18-49: 1.4, #T8, half-hour: 7.69%) and "Dollhouse" (adults 18-49: 1.7, #T4, half-hour: -5.88%).

Not sure, but the SeattlePI TVGuide claims it gained overall.
E! has here the break down of the night. Stating that,
The Bad News for Joss Whedon Fans: Dollhouse was down about 15 percent from its series premiere, from 4.8 million viewers to 4.2 million estimated viewers, as reported by MediaWeek.

The Slightly Better News for Joss Whedon Fans: In the 9 p.m. Friday hour, Dollhouse tied for second in the 18-49 demo.


So at least the show finished in 2nd place for the target demo.
FWIW, that Seattle PI link isn't "the Seattle PI says", because it's a reprint of TV Guide material, so technically it's "TV Guide says".
The divergence in opinions between professional ratings numbers crunchers is insane-making. It's all starting to feel like crystal-ball reading or numerology. If you look at the numbers THIS way, or if you look at THIS SUBSECTION, or if you ignore all subtleties then it's THAT. I guess the lesson is that the only final authority on what these numbers mean is Fox, when they make a decision about what to do with "Dollhouse."
Very true. Until then, I'll continue watching the show with joy. As all of you know, Joss loves to build the story to a meaning and I see that happening here. Think we better be wishing for the second season right now, that's when I've the feeling this story will take off.

Crossing fingers and toes.
Wowsers, my young man-friend - is this completely tongue-in-cheek? I'm everso-sincerely hoping so...

There are many many people in the world, a great deal of suffering, and death. Why would I spend a portion of effort caring about someone who, at least what I could tell from the previews, pollutes the world with bad music while getting paid obscene amounts of money instead of the poor, the starving, the oppressed? If any of those American Idol type people were attacked by a fan, or Paris Hilton killed, why would I spend an iota of concern on them? If they had contributed positively, or had legitimate instrumental or songwriting talent (thus contributing positively to society) it might be different, but people that contribute positively to the world really are better than those that do not.

I'm not saying that they deserve to be killed, or that I hope that people like that are, or that I hope anyone is killed or hurt. But that isn't how life is, and I have have better people to worry about, (most of who don't have enough money to hire brainwashed girls to protect them).

I sincerely hope I'm proven wrong. I hope that I do care about that singer. But from what it looks like, I really doubt it. Which is a shame, cause this episode was awesome.

[ edited by SteppeMerc on 2009-02-22 08:13 ]
Is it my imagination, or does the title of this topic keep changing back and forth?
So, couldn't Dollhouse's survival chances be improved by just adding some product placement?
"Man on the Street" will not only face the BSG-finale, but also CBS' NCAAB March Madness which takes over the Friday 9pm slot on March 20 and 27. Don't know how their numbers are, but I guess they will pull better demos than Flashpoint.
So, couldn't Dollhouse's survival chances be improved by just adding some product placement?

The post-Alpha-carnage shower scene could be a good place to advertise soap for instance.

It's all starting to feel like crystal-ball reading or numerology. If you look at the numbers THIS way, or if you look at THIS SUBSECTION, or if you ignore all subtleties then it's THAT.

I think that's probably because it is. I.e. it's speculation and in an arena where keeping your job probably doesn't depend on your speculations being correct more often than not (or in other words, just because they speculate on these things in public doesn't mean they're actually any good at it). As you say phlebotinin, ultimately only Fox knows (and even they don't know yet i'd imagine).
Thanks for that call QuoterGal, although it was apparently wasted.

It escapes me how some people fail to realize that a new show often hangs the good stuff on a glitzy premise, while weaving the really good stuff throughout. Especially true with Joss, trying as he is to please both Fox and his fans, while telling the story he wants to tell.

So I'm hoping the next ep will pull in the young male audience, even if it's just to watch Eliza shake her ass on stage in a scanty costume, since so much promo is obviously aimed in that direction. While assuming that the afore-mentioned really good stuff - the building blocks of the mythology and the witty dialog and the excellent acting - will be in the mix as well.
Zap2it states the overall rating as 2.7/5 which is only .1 down from last week.
One thing which I don't think has been mentioned - Flashpoint was in re-runs on Friday. It's not this coming Friday. That will have some kind of an imapct.
It'll be interesting to see the ratings for Dollhouse during Watchmen's opening weekend. Purely from a geek perspective.
If any of those American Idol type people were attacked by a fan, or Paris Hilton killed, why would I spend an iota of concern on them?


I'm gonna go with because they are human beings.
zeitgeist for the win. Pop music is just a job. (It's also enjoyed by millions of people across the world).

Episode 6 - possibly the biggest Dollhouse episode (and which currently caps FOX's air commitment for the show) is against the Battlestar finale, which is the biggest geek event in the history of... ever, I'd say. Doh. And CBS's March Madness that week. Doh. So guess where a portion of your geek audience and casual audience are gonna be?

I really, really hope they move it to another night as a special event.

[ edited by gossi on 2009-02-22 15:02 ]
So, couldn't Dollhouse's survival chances be improved by just adding some product placement?

Echo could go undercover at the Apple Store.
Personally l thought the second episode was better than the first l enjoyed the relationship between Echo and her bodyguard television is fickled anyway and so is the audiences l mean look at all those stupid reality shows l would say put alittle more action in the mix but don't overshadow the character Echo's origin l am particularly fascinated with it.
Zeitgeist is right to remind us of Gandalf's :
"Many that live deserve death. Some that die deserve life. Can you give it to them, Frodo? Do not be too eager to deal out death in judgment. Even the very wise cannot see all ends."
or John Donne's No man is an island quote:
"Any man's death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind."
I'm sure that both quotes relate to Dollhouse, and how happy I am that Boyd's desire to protect Echo is not just because she is a valuable piece of property.

Since all the shows are already filmed and in the can, I'm guessing it is too late to ad product placement at this point. But frankly I don't find it that disturbing, in just looking around my own apartment I see recognizable product logos... not a lot of them, but some.
Episode 6 - possibly the biggest Dollhouse episode (and which currently caps FOX's air commitment for the show)...

Are you sure? One of the promos specifically had dates for new episodes listed all the way through March 27, not March 20.
The 25k number for a number 1 ranking on iTunes was a discrete example of one show at one time and it wasn't Dollhouse. No one has any clue if DH is getting a #1 ranking on 25k downloads or 250k downloads. Gossi, your post makes it sound like you know actual numbers instead of just guessing. You might want to clarify that. I did hear that Fox was pretty jazzed about finally having an iTunes "hit". It's their first one. At the end of the day, that's something but it may not be enough.
You know, there's an easy way to try to bolster ratings for the back half of this season of Dollhouse: Renew it sooner rather than later. ;)
Are you sure? One of the promos specifically had dates for new episodes listed all the way through March 27, not March 20.

Ah, it's the music video which ends saying all new episodes on Fridays up through March 27.

[ edited by The One True b!X on 2009-02-22 20:24 ]
TamaraC, I wasn't meaning to suggest I have actual numbers. 'cos, clearly, I don't. I have also hear they're jazzed about having an iTunes hit along the grapevine, because 20th have historically struggled on iTunes compared to other studios.

b!X, correct, I was wrong.

Something which I don't think has been mentioned - on Friday, it was the season finale of Monk. Last years season finale got - wait for it - almost 7 million viewers for USA Network (a basic cable station). That's huge. If they did that again this year, it will have helped take away from Dollhouse's audience.
My completely unscientific estimate is that Monk's aud skews pretty old. Too bad FBC doesn't get a cut of iTunes. The buzz is good though and pressure can always be brought to bear at higher levels of the company if the rev streams are there.

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