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"I fed off a flower person and I spent six hours watching my hand move."
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March 15 2009

Remote Free TV is (probably) over. No more reduced advertising in Dollhouse, should the show be renewed for another season. According to unnamed sources, the practice hasn't proven to be "financially viable". Fox hasn't officially commented yet.

That's a real shame, I really enjoyed the format.
I don't care about remote-free-tv, as long as I get a second season of "Dollhouse".
I'm with Donnie, but I really have been enjoying Remote Free TV.
I also agree with donnie, but it's kind of a shame because I really enjoy the whole "less commercial" thing. I really hate commercials, unless it's that filet fish one, that song is so darn catchy...

[ edited by badwolf on 2009-03-15 10:37 ]
Remote Free TV also meant adverts in Dollhouse were more expense, which (obviously) helped pay for Dollhouse. For DH it means if they renew it, the ratings benchmark will now be higher for the show to be profitable.
They were more expensive, but there were fewer of them. Do we know for sure how the few but expensive ads compare to the greater number of less expensive ones?
We know for sure it made them more money per episode, as that is why they ran the experiment (they said that upfront: it benefited FOX, it benefited the advertisers, and it benefited the viewers). That article says, for example, 30 second spots were going for $300,000 a piece on Fringe - with several of them an episode, that's a lot of money.

I think, in reality, the collapse of the worldwide economy had an impact here. There's not the money to throw around on advertising that there used to be.
This sounds like some execs, not necessarily working for fox, are having doubts about it, but no decisions have been made yet by fox. So I will stick this in the "reporter trying to create a story that doesn't exist" file and move on.

I also thought the writers reasoning that fox had to pay more for 5 minutes of show content was silly. Editing would remove at least 5 minutes a week, so I doubt they are actually filming more, they are just editing less out for time.

I would call this irresponsible journalism, as it is reporting an opinion as being a fact, but it is about average for how entertainment news is written these days.

[ edited by Jaynes Hat on 2009-03-15 12:19 ]
You have to give them credit on trying a different approach. NBC seems to be lost in this arena.
I honestly stop watching when it goes to commercials and start surfing/chatting the net... so I really don't care much about the less commercial dealio. I'm a little confused as to how they could pull this off in the first place--if they put MORE commercials, won't the show run over the hour?
If they put commercials back in they'll just shorten the episode (it'll go back to about 43 minutes compared to about 50 now) so there'll be less story (they're considering returning to the old format next season rather than messing with the already filmed episodes so we basically won't notice it much i'd imagine. And it assumes 'Dollhouse' comes back too of course. Fingers crossed ;).

Editing would remove at least 5 minutes a week, so I doubt they are actually filming more, they are just editing less out for time.

Joss has said that it was a bit of a struggle to produce more minutes in the same time so I think they were actually filming more. Maybe most cuts for time are made before the scenes are filmed, at an advanced script stage ?

(the schedule also explains the extra costs BTW. Think it was Hugh Laurie - talking about 'House' - that said that in the UK we have no money but lots of time whereas in the US they have lots of money but no time. I.e. the solution to producing 50 minutes in the same number of days - 8 or 9 IIRC - that everyone else takes for 43 is to throw money at the problem and e.g. hire more people to run a 2nd "2nd unit")
"Dollhouse" has done some odd things, partly for money reasons, and partly - I suspect - to help fill those extra minutes. If you look at the aired episodes, 3 of the 5 have included moments from "Echo", the aborted pilot, spliced into the episodes.
Didn't know that gossi (I mean, i'd guessed at a few - like the "bottom of the pool" scene from the earliest trailers, just didn't realise the extent). I hope they do include "Echo" on the DVD, it'll be really interesting to see which scenes pop up and to what extent the contexts/themes match the final airing.
Saje, you have it pretty correct. 7 extra minutes is nothing to sneeze at. 30 extra seconds would be more feasible to simply not cut out and I bet there would be some difficulty there. 7 minutes is a 6th of the original time. That's a lot of extra content. I knew Dollhouse was shooting extra days (11 per episode) I believe it's because they had 50 minute episodes to shoot. That's a lot of extra money to spend BTW.

7 minutes could easily be 4 or 5 scenes. That's a lot of extra shooting!

[ edited by bobw1o on 2009-03-15 15:17 ]
bobw1o is, as always, correct. Damn him!
Looking at the bright side - longer bathroom breaks!
Could this be a positive development, in that:
1. The expeimental advert model gets the blame for Dollhouse's low financial payback. And...
2. Fewer minutes of production in a Season 2 would lower their costs & therefore make it easier to show a profit.
Gossi, your theory about using stuff from "Echo" is very sound, that was likely seen as a practical use for the already shot footage.

Steve P. Definitely #2, and I think quite possible #1 will be part of the equation.

Happy My Birthday everyone, I'm going to Disneyland!!!

BTW, Today is the 1yr anniversary of the first day of shooting on Dr. Horrible!!
Yay! Enjoy Disneyland bob. I went there with somebody when I was last in LA. I even stayed for the fireworks. Yes, I am 4.

[ edited by gossi on 2009-03-15 16:18 ]
I like the longer episodes and less commercials, but if this keeps Dollhouse on the air, fine by me.
I regret to say I'd missed the last episode. Was it any good?
I can testify to their findings -- I definitely notice the commercials more when there are only 2 of them. The "clutter" has become unbelievable. Even at fast forward it amazes me how many run, especially around the half hour.
You can watch it on Hulu, Madhatter.
We know for sure it made them more money per episode, as that is why they ran the experiment (they said that upfront: it benefited FOX, it benefited the advertisers, and it benefited the viewers). That article says, for example, 30 second spots were going for $300,000 a piece on Fringe - with several of them an episode, that's a lot of money.

I think, in reality, the collapse of the worldwide economy had an impact here. There's not the money to throw around on advertising that there used to be.
(-gossi)

Hmm, the $300,000 spots seem to be described as the highest price they got for some Fringe spots, while Dollhouse has significantly lower ratings. This seems to describe the avarage impact on the rates they were able to charge:

The cost per thousand viewers (CPMs) are some 25% to 30% higher for [the] two shows compared with shows of similar appeal, according to one media executive. Initially, Fox was asking for a 50% premium.


About 50% less national ad time that they were only able to sell at an average 25 to 30% higher cost (per minute per viewer I assume), that doesn't sound (more) profitable at all.

[ edited by Tristan on 2009-03-15 17:48 ]
We know for sure it made them more money per episode, as that is why they ran the experiment (they said that upfront: it benefited FOX, it benefited the advertisers, and it benefited the viewers).


Wait, but, gossi, if it actually was making them money per episode, then why are they not continuing the practice now? It would seem that they were not making more money because there were added costs for longer episodes and less advertisers willing to pay higher rates.

I also don't get how "more adverts for less money" instead of "less adverts for more money" automatically equates to "needs more viewers next season"? In fact, we may assume that the 'regular' advert scheme will make them more money (because: why else would they switch), meaning it's easier to make a profit. So while, yes, ad revenu translates to viewers needed (because they are the basis for the price at which ads sell in the first place), I'd say that - based on what I've read so far - we are now comparing two things with rates which are both based on viewing figures. So when comparing the two, do things then not become indepentdent from viewing figures? We're just dividing the viewing figures out, so to speak?

And to add one more thing to the tangled bunch of things I'm wondering about: weren't Remote Free TV ads more expensive because more people would - at least in theory - watch them? So, because of that, assuming my argument above proves false, wouldn't Dollhouse need more viewers right now to sustain the higher ad price instead of more viewers next season when we return to "normal ad prices"?
Sigh. Well if Dollhouse gets a second season (please please please) maybe the shorter episodes will allow the webisodes that were promised.
I miss being able to go to the bathroom. Also, maybe a few minutes less run time will make the episodes tighter, if it does come back next season.
My first reaction was that this is bad news for Dollhouse, given how much of the audience is watching it on DVR. Rumours seems to have implied that a high proportion of Dollhouse's DVR audience are watching the ads, and the C3 (?) ratings reflect this. If they discontinue Remote Free TV, it seems natural that this proportion would fall, and the high DVR won't mean anything at all. I guess I have been assuming that the high-DVR combined with Remote Free TV is the thing most likely to swing Dollhouse over the line into renewal. Am I off the mark though?
Happy Birthday, bobw10! Regards to bobw1-9.
I have a bladder the size of a thimble so while I like having more show I also like being able to use the bathroom so I'm kind of happy to hear this.
I can personally attest to the fact that, as a DVR viewer, I usually fast-forward through the commercials, but with remote-free tv I am actually watching them. When they're only 60-90 seconds, it just doesn't make sense to fast forward, that's usually just 2-3 ads to sit through. I would be sad to see remote-free tv go away, because it seemed like great progress for the tv medium, which has become so buried in ads that it is hard to watch it live.
This seems to be an article about nothing. So some exec (most likely middle mgmt nobody) thinks that Fox's experiment is a failure and therefore it will go away. But no one at Fox is saying anything?

Bunch of silliness. Don't take any stock in this "reporting". It could all be true but this is real shoddy journalism.
But no one at Fox is saying anything?

TamaraC, Kevin Reilly has said in an interview the other day it might not be coming back as advertisers didn't want to pay for it. Or were reluctant to.
This was a great experiment, and I think it helped keep me watching Fringe. I like when people play with the format of how things are done. The idea of making ads that work even in fastforward is fascinating.
I do like knowing when the show will be back. 60 seconds, 90 seconds. It's also why I hate when the last act break on Dollhouse doesn't say, and it goes back to a nebulous ad break.
Props to them for trying it anyway. It takes a lot to try and change the status quo in television.

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