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April 06 2009

'Fox leaning toward Dollhouse renewal' according to Airlock Alpha. The site, formerly known as SyFy Portal, says "Fox is looking to give its struggling "Dollhouse" a second season, to see if it can grow some legs on a new night".

No. Down, hopes. Down.
Well the site does have a fairly decent track record when it comes to scoops.
I'm with Jobo, I'm trying to keep my hopes down, cause I will be less disappointed.

Of course, it won't work. :D
Seriously. My question was going to be, "How reliable is Airlock Alpha (formerly SyFy Portal)?" However, now that Simon says they have a fairly decent track record, I'm officially about to yay. Should I? Dare I? I have the "Y" out. It won't be long at all until the rest follows.
zomg.

*cautiously crosses fingers*
It'd be nice, though, if they'd at least characterize their source. Not identify it, but they don't even try to give a sense of what part of the vast Dollhouse and/or Fox universe this comes from. (For all we know, it could just be a variant of Nick C's reference on TV by the Numbers to Reilly saying he'd like to renew it.)
There's a decent argument to be made. Dollhouse has a built in audience and sunk production costs that might give it a leg up over a number of pilot projects. With Hulu and the DVD/Blu-Ray, a summer of decent promotion, there's certainly the potential that it could premiere to a larger audience on a new night. Plus, it'll totally prevent Joss from exploring the possibilities of the internet for a little while.

Do it, Fox.

Give it a full season order, too. Just to show how confident you are. Then we, as fans, will be able to much more confidently recommend it to our friends.

[ edited by Dirk on 2009-04-06 07:36 ]
XanMan, hold at Y, repeat, hold at Y. Wait until we get final confirmation, then you can either go with "Yay!" or "You bastards!"
Hmmm, 'Hope for the best, but prepare for the worst' 'tis a motto that has served me well in the past, and will cannily suffice here, too.

Jobo, I think I may need glasses, as I thought you were saying 'No, Dawn hopes', and was trying to work out why Dawn wouldn't enjoy 'Dollhouse' being renewed. Heh.
So, Dollhouse has been rather average IMHO with maybe two great eps. T:TSCC has been much more complex and enjoyable, but I digress. Anyway, Firefly was a much better show from the get-go than Dollhouse has been, again IMHO. Fox and/or sports broadcasts butcher Firefly's scheduling on Friday nights (or was that Sunday? Or both? I forget), not to mention the order of the episodes. But Fox could not give "struggling" Firefly another chance to "grow some legs"??? Hmmm.....

[ edited by jperiodrperiod on 2009-04-06 07:43 ]
I can't help it -- my hopes, they are UP.
jperiodrperiod, the people overseeing the struggling Firefly back then are not the same people overseeing the struggling Dollhouse today. (I feel like a bunch of us need to make that into a macro, we have to say it so often.)
This would be the most awesome if it turns out to be true. I say let's go ahead an hope that it is.
Please let this be true. I'll be sad to see Terminator go, but I love Dollhouse a great deal more. And maybe just maybe, if the stars align, Summer can join Dollhouse as a doll, thus allowing me to still see her weekly on TV. Unlikely, even more unlikely than Dollhouse being renewed, but am man can dream, can't he?
Plus, network TV today is not the same as it as when Firefly went off the air.

As for TSCC, the show debuted strongly, had a ton of exposure in terms of advertising and eyeballs (it got ~18 million viewers for it's pilot), and yet the ratings slid consistently downward. The second episode had half that number, half. And it's currently at less than 4 million viewers each week. The network has valid reasons for thinking the show will never break out.
dottikin, yeah, that's the argument I keep making with Dollhouse. It actually hasn't lost that many viewers. It just never had that many in the first place. Maybe on a different night, more people would be willing to try it out (and hopefully stick around).
I've always said FOX would need to move it to another night for another series. I'm not sure they will. Decision wise they're holding off, and they will for another 3-4 weeks.
I don't know if I should take this article with a grain of salt or do my dance of happiness.
I don't know if I should take this article with a grain of salt or do my dance of happiness.
Grain of salt. They've published it at the weekend for a start, so the people at the network who matter won't have looked at Fridays rating yet.
badwolf, your indecision is palpable. I would do the dance of joy, were I you. I'm just optimistic, though; gossi has a reason and stuff.
I dunno though, I feel like if it wasn't renewed, I'd strongly consider doing the Dance of Shame, mostly because come on Fox, give our man a chance. You epic-failed with Firefly, you don't wanna do it again.
Dollhouse should have been on a different night from the get go.
Quoth dottikin:
I can't help it -- my hopes, they are UP.

Yes, my hopes are also having a man reaction.

Which, considering my anatomy, is kinda... weird.


I am cautiously optimistic!
Just think that would be possible makes me happy, on Monday!

Fox, I'm hoping for. Say anything soon.
well, I guess I'll postpone the moping then, at least where DH is concerned. I've been moping over TtSCC's probable demise (*sniff*) for a few weeks already.
Ugh now I'm slightly hopeful.

Going back and reading the ratings thread should put that to rest. :P
No TSCC, don't leave me; you are too awesome to end now!
Steppemerc,

Please let this be true. I'll be sad to see Terminator go, but I love Dollhouse a great deal more. And maybe just maybe, if the stars align, Summer can join Dollhouse as a doll, thus allowing me to still see her weekly on TV.

This. A woman can dream as well. What a beautiful thought!

Fox should at least give it another 12 eps. I'd love 12 great eps instead of 22 that might not be so great. Or move it to FX. Or something. There are a few good reasons Fox should give it an extension. Very true that a new pilot could perform worse. Now that it feels like a Joss show, good stuff's a brewin'.
Okay, I know it's a long shot, but I needed the pick-me-up!
Maybe, just maybe Fox is thinking that the radical "Fridays aren't working, we need drastic action" change would be not to scrap everything and start again, as they've done so many times previously, but to actually give a show a chance at a second season. That would be changing things.

Now to read the article...
For crying out loud.

I read a quote this weekend by John Cleese from Clockwise this weekend:-
"It's not the despair, Laura. I can take the despair. It's the hope I can't stand. "
As said above, please let this be true.
I wish I didn't read this.

After Friday's ratings I had pretty much concluded that 'Dollhouse' was never going to get a second season. I was beginning to get into the mindset of "appreciate these last few episodes and consider them the final episodes of the show. Now I've read this I have hope again, which means that if it does get cancelled I'm even more shattered than I would have been before.
The move seems to be an easy one for Fox. While the audience hasn't been as large as expected, it has instead remained stable. It's not a number that Fox uses, but "Dollhouse" carries a BlipNetwork Stability Index Rating of 92.0, better than every other network genre show currently on television outside of "Reaper" on The CW, which has a 94.7. A Stability Index Rating is the comparison of the show's highest overnight rating and its average overnight rating to see how much of its overall audience a show has retained.

My hopes are officially up again.
Unlike the ratings which seem to be, in general, trending downwards.

That aside, this is an unattributed rumour from a site and a journalist I don't know so my 'Dollhouse' hope level is staying on Puce.
Well, Simon says they have a pretty good record on scoops. Could be?
Sure, could be toast. But to be honest, I also don't know what Simon considers a "fairly decent track record" so that's a data point but not exactly decisive either.

Basically my attitude for the last 4-5 weeks has been "I doubt 'Dollhouse' will get a second season but if it does, great, if not then we'll get a boxed set and then we get to see what Joss comes up with next". This article hasn't changed that even slightly.
I think from about 3rd episode, I alway considered this a one-season deal and never expected anything more. Just wanted to enjoy the ride. This news gives me some reason for optimism, but I think I'm just going to stick to the plan until something more official comes out. I just hope the show finishes strong... if not for its renewal, then for its fans and its legacy.
Charlie Brown. Lucy. Football.
'Airlock Alpha leaning toward writing articles with unidentified sources to get pageviews' according to Septimus.

Still, I won't deny a brief uptick in the old hopemeter.
Oh man. Dammit. What an evil, evil link. Looks like my hopes will be crashing to the ground from a higher altitude.
Please after this sucking week some good news are badly needed
Wut? No comics then?
Articles like this seem rather pointless in regards to FOX. Even if they are at the moment leaning towards picking up Dollhouse for a full season, they will change their minds many times before Upfronts occur in 6-8 weeks. I always think about Dark Angel, which was in a better situation then Dollhouse, but still was on shaky ground. A few days before the Upfronts, the producers were told by FOX that the series was picked up for Season 3. Then some upstarts named Joss and Tim sat down and wrote a script over a weekend. Fox went with their show and dumped Dark Angel.

I won't believe anything until the deed is done. And since some picked up shows have not even aired on FOX (i.e. Still Life), I still would be uncomfortable about a second season.
@Qixotl Wait, Josks and TM were responsible for the demise of Dark Angel? Oh the anguish in my soul! How can I hate them for that, when I love their shows so much?
Most of our sources on stories like these usually come from the network. The people on the show are typically the last to know about cancellations and such (not all the time, but mostly).

This is NOT a final decision yet, however, and is only a "lean toward." It seems that there is enough strength in the show and its financial viability to continue it more, but I'm sure a small boost in its audience couldn't hurt. Maybe it will depend on what Fox replaces "Sarah Connor" as the lead-in.

Simon, by the way, is there a way to change this name to like AlphaMichael? I don't own the rights to "SyFy" anymore. :)
You should be able to edit your name/nickname to AlphaMichael in your profile.
@dotkin (about "Sarah Connor" losing half its premiere audience) -- One thing to note is that the series premiere of "Sarah Connor" was artificially inflated. It ran after a highly rated NFL playoff game (in fact, one of the highest rated games in a long time). It lost 50 percent of that audience and still found 12 million people. That's a tough thing to knock it for since it normalized the second week at 6 million.

@saje (about ratings trending downward) -- I have not seen a downward trend outside of the premiere (and you typically DO get a downward trend immediately following a hyped premiere).

"Dollhouse" premiered with an overnight of 2.8HH, and over the next four episodes, fell 18 percent to a 2.3. But in the fifth episode, it bounced back 13 percent and was off just 7 percent from its premiere, and has pretty much stayed there ever since. So the ratings did go downward initially, but are right now just a few percentage points off its premiere.

Also, in terms of our track record, Airlock Alpha has existed (albeit under two previous names) for 11 years, and if there is one thing that we're usually pretty good at, it's renewals and cancellations. We were the first to announce Buffy's and Angel's cancellations, for instance, as well as Firefly. That doesn't mean we're always right. One of the risks of doing rumor reports is that you get "snapshot" information, meaning, you are getting information from that moment, but could change. We saw that with "Jericho" after we were told it WOULD get a second season, and then the network changed its mind at the last minute, and with "Sarah Connor's" full-season pickup this year, as we were given the information before Warner Bros. TV slashed its license fee.

And as we say in this story, this is only a rumor. And it's a snapshot of where the network stands right now. A lot can happen between now and an official decision.

@Septimum (about us seeking pageviews) -- Of course ANY site is looking to post pageviews, that's the nature of the business. We (meaning AA and even Whedonesque) update regularly as a means to that end as well. However, we do not just post news for the sake of building traffic. We're not into sensationalism. We report what we feel is newsworthy based on sources we have developed over a long period of time. Sometime we're right, sometimes we're wrong. But we don't post anything that we don't fully stand behind. :)

@Qixotl (Articles like this seem rather pointless in regards to FOX. Even if they are at the moment leaning towards picking up Dollhouse for a full season, they will change their minds many times before Upfronts occur in 6-8 weeks.) -- Very true. Which is why it is only a snapshot in time.
AlphaMichael, thanks for the information, even with it's acknowledged limitations. Can I ask whether your source reported this "leaning" before or after release the latest episode's ratings?
Anyone got any familiarity with this "blipnetwork" thing -- never heard of it, then noticed that it appears to be a metric, and a corportation, owned/created by the author of the article. Is this (or a similar number) used by anyone other than this guy?
@saje (about ratings trending downward) -- I have not seen a downward trend outside of the premiere (and you typically DO get a downward trend immediately following a hyped premiere).

"Dollhouse" premiered with an overnight of 2.8HH, and over the next four episodes, fell 18 percent to a 2.3. But in the fifth episode, it bounced back 13 percent and was off just 7 percent from its premiere, and has pretty much stayed there ever since. So the ratings did go downward initially, but are right now just a few percentage points off its premiere.


I've been going by

The overnight recap:

Episode 1 - 4.8 million, 2.0 in 18-49 demo.
Episode 2 - 4.3 million, 1.7 in 18-49 demo. 5% share.
Episode 3 - 4.2 million, 1.6 in 18-49 demo. 5% share.
Episode 4 - 3.5 million, 1.5 in 18-49 demo, 5% share.
Episode 5 - 4.3 million, 1.6 in 18-49 demo, 5% share.
Episode 6 - 4.1 million, 1.5 in 18-49 demo, 5% share.
Episode 7 - 3.9 million, 1.3 in 18-49 demo, 4% share. (In the finals it was 1.4 in 18-49 demo).
Episode 8 - 3.5 million, 1.4 in 18-49 demo, 5% share.

Where the Live numbers seem to be dropping although admittedly the share is holding fairly steady. Let's discount "Watchmen week" as an outlier, then we have 4.8, 4.3, - , 4.2, 4.3, 4.1, 3.9. 3.5. That's surely a downwards trend ? It's not precipitous but it is down. Course, maybe a low but steady share is enough for Fox to renew, I certainly won't complain if that turns out to be the case.
It's maybe worth pointing out that mostly the networks are looking at the demo (or in the case of the CW some sub-group of the demo) rather than total viewers. It's also trending down but it seems more stable.

Never heard of the blipnetwork thing and it may be something that only comes into play with bubble shows. That Dollhouse is second to Reaper isn't too inspiring considering Reaper's current rating woes.

ETA Evidently the blip thing is a measure that the site developed itself.

[ edited by helcat on 2009-04-06 15:14 ]
Good news if this pans out.

You know,pairing Dollhouse with Fringe might be good fit.

Disappointing news about The Sarah Connor Chronicles.Sounds like the only reason that got a second season is because Warner Bros. wanted to use it to promote this summers new Terminator film.

When are the Fox upfronts?

[ edited by Buffyfantic on 2009-04-06 15:16 ]

[ edited by Buffyfantic on 2009-04-06 15:17 ]
May I think. Is it May 18th-19th this year ?

Is there a list of previous Blipnetwork scores/predictions alongside the actual outcome (cancelled/renewed) ? Then I guess we could at least judge how accurate it's been (beyond anecdotes I mean).
Once again I read the headline, thrilled about the news. However 20 minutes later when I've finished reading the 60+ comments, I'm back to mildly optimistic.

I really, really hope we get more DH. It was good at the start but has been great these last few weeks.
@AlphaMichael: Sorry about coming off as snippy and accusing you of just seeking pageviews. I'll chalk it up to my trying to read all good news about Dollhouse renewal with a giant grain of salt, in an effort to tamp down my hopes.

My largest concern about the article was that the rumor was entirely unattributed, not even giving a characterization of the source (Fox insider, person close to Joss, internet rumor, Ouija board, etc.). I assume you can't give that information or you would have, but the lack of it is the kind of thing that makes me skeptical.
Where the Live numbers seem to be dropping although admittedly the share is holding fairly steady. Let's discount "Watchmen week" as an outlier, then we have 4.8, 4.3, - , 4.2, 4.3, 4.1, 3.9. 3.5. That's surely a downwards trend ? It's not precipitous but it is down. Course, maybe a low but steady share is enough for Fox to renew, I certainly won't complain if that turns out to be the case.


Ah, but is it a statistically significant downwards trend compared to other viewing figure trends?
In other positive news, a cheery, positive fanvid. ;)

A very late response to Saje: The ratings aren't trending downwards. I'd call them stable.
If FOX finds a way to monetize off a second season, it would be a wise move for them. The sets are already there, so the initial costs will be lower. If they move it to a new timeslot and give it another 13 episodes to grow, it will prove their promises of having faith in the show to build a stable audience, slowly.
Airlock Alpha is usually very good at checking its sources, and has had an excellent record in terms of separating the rumors from the real possibilities.

Also, if Fox does take into consideration the number of viewers who record the show for later viewing, or view it online via Hulu, iTunes, Amazon, and its own website, the numbers are a bit bigger than just what the Nielsens count.
All I can say is "I hope it's renewed." And beyond that, there is nothing I can do. (Being helpless sucks, but at least it takes the pressure off of me.)
Also, if Fox does take into consideration the number of viewers who record the show for later viewing ...

Sure, DVR (etc.) might count more for 'Dollhouse' since it apparently has good C3 numbers. We don't know how Fox are counting those. Just to be clear, i'm not saying there's no hope and never have. I'm saying that right now my hope is where it was 8 hours ago and until I hear something concrete from either Joss or Fox that's likely where it'll stay.

Ah, but is it a statistically significant downwards trend compared to other viewing figure trends?

I'll leave that as an exercise for someone that can be arsed ;).

(3.5 million is more than one deviation from the mean though)

A very late response to Saje: The ratings aren't trending downwards. I'd call them stable.

3.9 to 3.5 is downwards. Those're the ratings and they're going down, that seems undeniable. Not as much in relative terms (i.e. the share is fairly stable) but there must come a point where they're just not getting the advertising eyeballs to justify the outlay, no matter how stable the share is.

Still, pilots are expensive and arguably even riskier than a known property so they may plump for 'Dollhouse' over a leap into the unknown.
Didn't I read somewhere that while the live viewership is declining, "Dollhouse" has one of the highest DVRing rates, and if you put that together with the live views, the numbers haven't dropped significantly from the beginning? I don't think I made that stuff up in my head (or in any other part of my body).

We'll see. I am cautiously optimistic.
the question that fox must be asking itself is whether strong DVR viewing indicates that Dollhouse would do better on a different night. Or, more accurately, how much better on a different night?
Dollhouse gains a bigger percentage of its viewers from DVR than most other shows but mostly that is to do with the low number of actual viewers it has to start with. If you look at the actual gain rather than the percentage gain Dollhouse doesn't make the top 20.

[ edited by helcat on 2009-04-06 16:42 ]
I'll believe it when I see it. Hope level: stable, which is to say, still practically nonexistent.
I will be looking forward to actual confirmation of this. I can't allow myself to get my hopes up.

Does anyone know what the online viewing (Hulu and Fox.com) numbers look like? Are they being counted?
I think this is wishful thinking, saying something to see if the writer can start a groundswell to push his hopes for the show. Without attribution, this means nothing. I would not hang my hopes on a Fox decision here based on what I read. I would believe that Fox has not yet made a decision about DH's future. I could see them deciding to continue it, or not. Look at HBO, as a model. Last season, In Treatment had horrid numbers- but it had huge acclaim, and so now it just began S2 last night- and folks, it is excellent TV. So there really can be hope that excellent TV can get renewed with low numbers, as FNL did. But the truth is, the word on DH has been less compelling that the word on IT ever was- IT has superb reviews, and great press and also Gabriel Byrne; DH has mixed reception, bunches of gripes, and ED. The past few weeks reading about DH does not reveal a fandom rabidly committed to the show; instead, it reveals concerns, and people sticking with it only because Joss in involved.

[ edited by Dana5140 on 2009-04-06 16:52 ]
Didn't I read somewhere that while the live viewership is declining, "Dollhouse" has one of the highest DVRing rates, and if you put that together with the live views, the numbers haven't dropped significantly from the beginning?

AFAIK the DVR numbers are very steady at around 1.5 million per week. But obviously if the live numbers are going down and the DVR numbers are "only" holding steady then the total number of viewers will still be falling.

Added to that is how much importance Fox attaches to the DVR numbers - a 30% increase looks great until you consider that Fox may count DVR viewers as half (or less) of a live viewer (AFAIK we don't know how they weight them). And as helcat points out, a big percentage increase in this case largely just means that the initial viewership is pretty low.
probably the most encouraging new information I got from the post is regarding its expense: the reminder that that expensive set is a "one time" expense, and may not have handicapped the budget as much as I thought as it was made possible by not having to shoot a pilot before the show was initially picked up (later pilot redos aside).

I still get a little lost in the whole "...20th Century Fox Television is still the primary production company involved, which means its licensing fee is not as steep as it would be if the show was produced by another studio." I know studio and network are different, but does this mean ANY fox studio show is basically expected to discount its price to the network? This would, of course, be a good thing for survival chances if true.
@squishy (about when I heard) -- This was told to me Sunday evening (last night). I usually post such information as soon as it's corroborated. :)

@doubtful guest (about BlipNetwork and the Stability Index Rating) -- the BlipNetwork is the network of sites that includes Airlock Alpha, Rabid Doll and Inside Blip, the latter which has not been launched yet. The SIR is a metric I developed more than a year ago as a tool to see how well shows were holding their audiences. Obviously, networks are more comfortable selling shows when they have a good idea they will hit their target numbers, which usually requires stability. This is just one metric we created to help show stability, and we make it clear in the story that Fox does NOT use our metrics. :)

@saje (about downward trend) -- I don't use demo numbers in my research, but instead full audience numbers. I use overnights rather than full numbers because I like to have a comparative metric in examining numbers and I'm too impatient to wait for final numbers. =P However, the HH ratings I have are: 2.8, 2.7, 2.6, 2.3 (this was the decline I talked about), 2.6 (the bounce back up), 2.6, 2.5, 2.5. Just to note that Zap2it reported a 2.2 for last Friday's episode, but those aren't the numbers I received (and they don't match up with Fox's average for the night -- there is no way a 2.2 and a 2.2 averages to a 2.4, no matter what math you use, hehehe).

@septimus (about being snippy) ... it's perfectly OK. :) No hard feelings at all. In terms of the source, I don't always characterize sources, especially right now that Fox is clamping down on everything hard. If a source asks me not to identify his or her position, I have to honor that. I know that doesn't help in how you take the news or not, but sadly, there isn't much more I can do. I can say that almost all of my talk of where shows continue or end comes from upper management in the network, or someone associated with them.
@JIG (The ratings aren't trending downwards. I'd call them stable.) -- Exactly. That is why we brought up our Stability Index Rating. That metric allows us to see how stable it is, and compare it with other shows in an apples to apples basis.

@doubtful guest (I know studio and network are different, but does this mean ANY fox studio show is basically expected to discount its price to the network? This would, of course, be a good thing for survival chances if true.) -- Actually, what it means is not a discount, but more or less that the company is paying itself. It's like if I had Airlock Alpha, my science-fiction site, start charging my horror site Rabid Doll for news content, it's basically charging myself. I can make it as high or as low as I want, but essentially, the money all goes to the same place.
Also, just to note, I don't pay too much attention to demos only because each network and each show really has its own demo market that it's trying to reach.

For instance, I can tell you that CBS is less interested in the 18-25 demo, and maybe even the 18-49 demo than most other networks, simply because they have a belief that 35+ have more disposable income, thus are a more desired audience of advertisers, than say the 18-25 crowd that many try to reach.

Also, you have some that are more interested in capturing the female or male demographic, or other very specific demos, and it makes it hard to do an apples to apples comparison. At least by looking at overall numbers, we can get a better picture, plus a better way to compare.

Not that advertisers aren't focused on demos. They are. And they play an important role in the fate of a series. But it's kind of tough to say that the adult 18-49 demographic is the only demo they care about.
AlphaMichael, the show IS trending downwards in total millions, 18-49 and 18-35. I'm not sure how it's possible to interpret it otherwise.

I've got an article going up on Dollverse later on tonight about this, with quotes from the network on the record and opinion from the studio off the record.
A tiny little flame of hope just got lit. I'm going to guard it very carefully.
gossi, I think what AlphaMichael means is that it isn't trending downwards in terms that it hasn't dropped the way it was expected to and that the networks like their ratings stable (no huge changes from week to week).
But... it has dropped week to week. In terms of week to week, it dropped the 2nd week, it dropped the 3rd, it dropped the 4th, it rose the 5th, it dropped the 6th, it dropped the 7th, it dropped the 8th (to a season low). It's not possible to say it's not trending down, because it is, both in total viewers and all the key demos. Although the key demo is clearly now a little more stable.

[ edited by gossi on 2009-04-06 18:04 ]
I'm not hoping for much, but it'd be great if this were true.
Maybe it will depend on what Fox replaces "Sarah Connor" as the lead-in.

This is a confusing statement, unless I'm mis-reading it, since we already know the "what", but the statement reads like we don't: Prison Break.
Well, basing an analysis on impatience is not doing the analysis favors. Looking at the final numbers should give better results.

But I agree that Dollhouse is most stable in the Household rating, probably because those ratings have the biggest sample and therefore much less variation in general. Same thing goes for overall viewers: Here it scores 85% (average/maximum). But both 18-49 and 25-54 are under 80%.

gossi, looking at the Household rating, it did trend up for two consecutive weeks (2.2>2.5>2.6) between episode 4 and 6 based on final nationals. It seems to be more stable in that regard, but I agree that overall, and looking at the demos the show is trending down. Till now, that is. :)
AlphaMichael: I do understand the whole ultimate "paying yourself" studio/network thing. What I'm not sure I still understand is how this works in practical day to day terms. For example, there have been a lot of discussions on various threads here reminding us that things like future DVD profits for the studio don't really have much way of playing into network decisions unless they mean the studio is willing to cut their fees charged to the network in hopes of making the money back later in DVD sales. Obviously, on the sacred scroll presented to Overlord Rupert, any subsidiary interactions are ultimately a wash, but does this in fact mean that Fox studios will routinely (and aside from other considerations like the DVD issue I mentioned) charge Fox networks less for shows and that this will, therefore, have a direct impact on the possibility of a show being picked up for further episodes/seasons?
Yeah, in the Households it went up slightly 2 out of 8 episodes. The other 5 episodes it went down.
"It'd be nice, though, if they'd at least characterize their source."

I took him to task once for his frequent citation of anonymous sources, and he defended himself saying he's a serious journalist who has won awards, who does not have to prove to his readers that he has an actual source. So, take that for whatever the heck it means.
I've put a story up on Dollverse which includes the network's response to the story, and some quiet prodding about what this was about with not-the-network-Fox.
Would someone who made this up take the time to explain everything here?
The long and the short of it is that it isn't a made up story. It's summarized in one sentence: FOX and Fox are still working out if they can afford another series. They'll decide next month. Everything else is noise, however.

[ edited by gossi on 2009-04-06 19:17 ]
Thanks, gossi. (For some reason, I can't access Dollverse right now, but I'll assume that's an ISP DNS thing ro something and that it will come back soon.)
Gossi,

Maybe you should have had Rutherford B. Actualperson ask the questions.

:D

Other than that, I have nothing to say, like others have said, I'm expecting the worse, hoping for the best.
Thanks for that Gossi.

The last 2 questions especially, very helpful :)
I didn't really understand the basis for the statements made in the Dollverse thing, which is presented in the form of an "interview" but makes clear (in a humorous aside) that it is really just the interviewer talking to himself. Who are the sources? Other than a meaningless statement attributed to Kevin Reilly, I didn't see any sources cited. Am I missing something?
The way I figure is that "Prison Break" will be the test of "Dollhouse" -- If "Prison Break" has better ratings than "Terminator" (5.1, for argument's sake), and "Dollhouse" grows that audience the same way it grew from "Terminator", then they know people are actually A) staying on the channel to watch "Dollhouse" (which means Terminator was holding it down) and B) switching over to watch it.

If Prison Break gets it's hypothetical 5.1 and "Dollhouse" still goes right back down to it's 3.5, they'll know that "Dollhouse" has a pretty static audience.
Squishy, I asked FOX to comment on the Airlock Alpha article. They said: "Nothing to report at this time regarding renewals (for either show)".

KoC, what you just said is exactly what I heard (today) Fox is thinking. That's why they're waiting it out.
So hope this is true, fingures crossed.
Come on, FOX, after what we Whedonites have been through this past week, we all need some love.
@gossi (AlphaMichael, the show IS trending downwards in total millions, 18-49 and 18-35. I'm not sure how it's possible to interpret it otherwise.)

Yes, I already talked about this aspect of it, and you can scroll up to read more. :)

I've got an article going up on Dollverse later on tonight about this, with quotes from the network on the record and opinion from the studio off the record.

I read it and tried to post a response, but apparently either it hasn't gone through yet, or it didn't work. But just for the record here: We never claimed the SIR was used by the network or any network. In fact, the story specifically states "It's not a number that Fox uses" right before I share SIR information. This has always been internal information for us, and ways that we can illustrate possibilities and see if rumors have legs.

Also, if the studio would admit to rumors and such, then I wouldn't have to report on rumors anymore, because then it would be official. That's why they are rumors.

Fox may announce the fate of "Dollhouse" in May, but I can guarantee you that a decision will be made long before that, contrary to your last part of your Q&A.

Finally, I don't see anything in my story where I talk about the lead-in show to "Dollhouse" once "Sarah Connor" goes off the air. Maybe I talked about it here, but if I don't know what the lead-in is, it's not suddenly proof that I am wrong. I only cover science-fiction and related genre shows, and since "Prison Break" is not one of those shows, I can not simply name the new lead-ins off the top of my head.

You may run a "Dollhouse"-centric site where you can keep up with even the smallest details, which is great and I love that, but please don't expect a site that covers a much wider area to be able to do the same. :)

I hope you are interested in making those updates to your Q&A so at the very least you represent me fairly, as I would hope you would expect from me. :)

Thanks!
@doubtful guest (AlphaMichael: I do understand the whole ultimate "paying yourself" studio/network thing. What I'm not sure I still understand is how this works in practical day to day terms. For example, there have been a lot of discussions on various threads here reminding us that things like future DVD profits for the studio don't really have much way of playing into network decisions unless they mean the studio is willing to cut their fees charged to the network in hopes of making the money back later in DVD sales. Obviously, on the sacred scroll presented to Overlord Rupert, any subsidiary interactions are ultimately a wash, but does this in fact mean that Fox studios will routinely (and aside from other considerations like the DVD issue I mentioned) charge Fox networks less for shows and that this will, therefore, have a direct impact on the possibility of a show being picked up for further episodes/seasons?)

Very good question ... this more commonly comes up when you are dealing with a production studio that is not under the same ownership as the network, for instance, Warner Bros. TV producing "Sarah Connor Chronicles" on Fox -- two different companies.

It has nothing to do with charging less for less. When we are dealing with a production company paying a studio a fee, this is more or less a formality to help make sure the right people are paid for what they do. The people at Fox Television, for instance, get a certain amount of the license fee paid by a network, whether it's from ABC, CBS, Fox, etc. By setting a license fee even amongst properties under the same corporate ownership, you are able to make sure that the people who get compensated based on that fee remain compensated.

However, the rest of the fee is a paper shift, not an actual dollar shift. And that's the biggest difference here.

Say the network pays $2 million per episode, and certain people with the production company get 25 percent of that. If the network and production company are under the same ownership, they will still pay out the 25 percent, but the other 75 percent is simply a paper shift. So lowering a license fee would mean less for the people who get paid based on that fee, but still, the majority of the fee is being paid to itself.

I don't know if that makes any sense .. =P
@will.beuche (I took him to task once for his frequent citation of anonymous sources, and he defended himself saying he's a serious journalist who has won awards, who does not have to prove to his readers that he has an actual source. So, take that for whatever the heck it means.)

Please cite this specifically where it was said in this way and in this context.

I think you are summarizing a number of conversations into a nice little package that is actually mischaracterizing everything that was said and is shining this in an untrue light, and I would appreciate you not doing that.

As with all unnamed sources, we cannot sometimes identify where they come from specifically. That is the way it is. Networks, studios, you name it, have worked hard to crack down on leaks such as this, and I have committed to making sure that we protect them because this is their LIVELIHOOD we're talking about.

If there was any discussions on awards and such, it was out of discussion on why I should be personally trusted to do this compared to some blogger or something, and it was in an attempt to show that I have done this for a long time, and have been recognized for my work as a journalist, thus I take my credibility very seriously.

These kinds of attacks are unwarranted, and unnecessary for this conversation, and I won't respond to them again.
Of course I never expect a network to confirm a rumour, hee, that's why I glossed over that bit. I also deal with them as press on a regular basis, I know what it's like Michael. I'll edit the thing about Prison Break, for some reason my brain said that was in the e-story.

I'm reliably told they're holding off deciding about Dollhouse until they're got a few of the Dollhouse & Prison Break numbers in, to see how it pairs with (they think) a bigger lead in.

If anybody wonders how the economics of 20th knocking down the licensing fee could work - Firefly, obviously, sold a lot of DVDs and made Fox a lot of money. In terms of viewers, with DVR taken into account, Dollhouse has a lot more eyes. If Fox can keep it on the air for a few years, it will likely sell way more DVDs than Firefly, which equates to a lot of money. So the argument - which isn't a simple one - is should 20th shuffle things around and in the hope of making it back in total long term. I don't know is my answer.

[ edited by gossi on 2009-04-06 21:25 ]
Great interview, gossi :)

What is the name of the episode airing May 8th?
Omega, written and directed by Timothy Mine-ear.
It was mentioned that the site was the first to break the news of Buffy's cancellation. Maybe I'm wrong, but I thought the show ended because Joss & co. decided to end it (and SMG wanted to do movies, etc.).
Finally, I don't see anything in my story where I talk about the lead-in show to "Dollhouse" once "Sarah Connor" goes off the air. Maybe I talked about it here...

It was here, yes. And I referenced it because I always challenge reporters whose pieces suggest they can't be bothered to look up easily found facts. It's nothing personal, I just find it a bit lazy. (And it's the sort of thing best avoided, because if a reader can so easily realize that a reporter hasn't bothered to look up a simply-known fact, it feeds into reader skepticism on the rest, whether or not the skepticism is actually warranted.)

ETA that obviously it being in the context of a discussion thread, which it was, is a little less problematic than if it had ben in the article, which it wasn't. ;)

[ edited by The One True b!X on 2009-04-06 21:54 ]
Wow, this is certainly food for thought (and fuel for hope). Thank you AlphaMichael for posting here and clarifying so many points. Obviously we cannot depend up anything, and personally I'll be satisfied with the great 13 episode & commentary DVD set that I'll be able to own. But I do like that we can still hope for more!
It has nothing to do with charging less for less. When we are dealing with a production company paying a studio a fee, this is more or less a formality to help make sure the right people are paid for what they do. The people at Fox Television, for instance, get a certain amount of the license fee paid by a network, whether it's from ABC, CBS, Fox, etc. By setting a license fee even amongst properties under the same corporate ownership, you are able to make sure that the people who get compensated based on that fee remain compensated.

However, the rest of the fee is a paper shift, not an actual dollar shift. And that's the biggest difference here.

Say the network pays $2 million per episode, and certain people with the production company get 25 percent of that. If the network and production company are under the same ownership, they will still pay out the 25 percent, but the other 75 percent is simply a paper shift. So lowering a license fee would mean less for the people who get paid based on that fee, but still, the majority of the fee is being paid to itself.


Thank you for that, AlphaMichael. That's something that's been coming up for years on this board, without even much of a useful framework for discussion, and you've provided one. Thank you. Please don't get a thin skin about people doubting you because they don't know you. Stick around and you'll find this is one of the most civil of boards.
It's the battle of the critics!
Just from a personal perspective, I prefer AlphaMichael's take to Robert Seidman's. (I appreciate gossi's take as well.) I'm not sure Seidman's take was fair that AlphaMichael's piece was simply a reflection of rampant, wishful internet speculation. No, I don't think that was a a fair assessment. Clearly AM has his sources. But so does Seidman. Hmmm.

I'm not sure I can take much more of this uncertainty. I really want this show to be renewed. Hope is scary, even if it seems there's cause for only a very little, tiny droplet of hope.
Clearly AM has his sources. But so does Seidman. Hmmm.

Actually, in that link Seidman -- even if he's correct -- doesn't cite or mention any sources, even unnamed or uncharacterized ones. He just speculates based upon the ratings themselves. Hinman -- even if he's incorrect -- in his piece is reporting the scuttlebutt he's hearing from someone.
We're all just on the cusp of a good dance of joy, it's very frustrating.

I can see the logic of Alpha's (waaait...a minuet) post and I can see the logic in Gossi's standpoint. I presume that our arguments (in the sense of debate) are the same as what is going on in Fox HQ, although with more spreadsheets and erm less emotion.
Good point, b!X.
One day we will actually talk about what happens in an episode.
What episode? There are actual episodes now?
I'm having an episode right now.
*pun-dun-tssjjj* ;)
Me, too, but mine's more of a " 'sode." I hope I wake up with powers.
Actually, in that link Seidman -- even if he's correct -- doesn't cite or mention any sources, even unnamed or uncharacterized ones. He just speculates based upon the ratings themselves. Hinman -- even if he's incorrect -- in his piece is reporting the scuttlebutt he's hearing from someone.

Yes, and also doesn't address the issue of the two Fox's shared earnings (I still want to hear more about that), and, assuming he's referring to the topic article of this thread, apparently hasn't read it, if he thinks it's about critical acclaim.

bad spelling

[ edited by dreamlogic on 2009-04-06 23:29 ]
Dollhouse being a Whedon show, it will certainly sell some DVD's, but does anyone think it will sell as well as Firefly, Buffy or Angel?

I bought Firefly 'cuz I wanted to see the unaired episodes. I have since watched each ep probably fifty times or more. Same for Serenity. Then again Firefly is my all-time fave tv series.

While I watch Dollhouse each week and hope for its renewal, my only reason for purchasing the season one DVD would be for the always awesome comentary from Whedon and cast. I can only begin to imagine all of the exciting tidbits we will get (especially, sadly, if it only runs one season).

For the record, I think commentary on almost every movie or show I have watched is so bad that I don't even access them anymore. Firefly was the first DVD where I realized how rich and satisfying commentary could be. Serenity followed suit.

To my original point though, I don't see Dollhouse selling even nearly as well as any of the previous shows. Then again I am not a DVD-aholic. Nor do I pay attention to itunes and such. I hear that Dollhouse does well with it, but I don't know the definition of "well" in this context.

[ edited by lottalettuce on 2009-04-06 23:32 ]
Simon- Yeah but this isn't the "Discuss Episode X" thread. This is the "Possibility of Renewal" thread.

[ edited by lottalettuce on 2009-04-06 23:31 ]
Nobody knows what Dollhouse will sell like on DVD, but the longer it's on the air, the more of a DVD following it shall have. The season one DVD includes (unless they change their minds) the unaired episode "Echo". Along with many, many, many extras. I imagine they'll take it to Comic-Con, which has an attendance in the middle 6 figures in itself. If they market it right, it will sell.
I think a lot of fans who didn't get on board to watch Dollhouse would still buy the DVDs! I'm hoping for not just Joss' commentaries but ones w/the other writers and all the actors.... Eliza managed to sell quite a few Tru Calling DVDs, and I think Dollhouse would manage to do very well.
AlphaMichael (or others with knowledge of such things): I understand from your last post that production companies have to be careful discounting fees because that also means chopping the pay of anyone whose income is tied to percentages of that fee. Does that mean that if a show like Dollhouse is "co-owned" by Fox studios and by Mutant Enemy (?and by Eliza's company) that Fox can cut its fee without affecting the pay structure of anyone whose income is linked to Mutant Enemy, etc (M.E. etc still proportionally get their fee). Or is it not possible to "compartmentalize" who takes the hit in this way?

(I am assuming (?correctly?) that only one entity on the production side (ie 20th C. Fox) negotiates with the network, and that all of the proportional ownership goes on "behind the curtain" between those co-owning production companies through some process of eventual consensus. That is, I am assuming that the Network does NOT have to individually deal with every production company that gets to put a cute logo after the credits on the show. I guess I am also assuming that all of the sorts of people who get paid based on percentages of things like the licensing fees are the big players like Joss or Eliza and a few others, and that these people tend to be under the umbrella of "Mutant Enemy," etc, NOT under the umbrella of "20th Century Fox." Am I even close?)
"Well the site does have a fairly decent track record when it comes to scoops."

Does it Simon? Which ones? I see other sites muse that its easy just to make something up and call it a rumor.

That Dollhouse is dead if it doesn't hit 1.7 really really quick.
I tried posting this on Dollverse but it's not working =/

I think Dollhouse tends to be good business for the production company, but not so much for the broadcaster. But since both the network and the major producer belong to the same group they could work something out.

The budget that was announced for Dollhouse early when Joss and Eliza first took the idea to FOX is bigger than that of most shows, and specially if Remote-free TV is gone, they could make episodes a little cheaper. Just a thought.

I think Dollhouse moving to another place is out of the question because of Eliza's development deal with the network, but since she signed it, it's been almost two years, so maybe if the deal expires they could share or move the show to FX, which I believe is also owned by News Corp.

[ edited by danielgm86 on 2009-04-07 02:03 ]
@One True B!X (It was here, yes. And I referenced it because I always challenge reporters whose pieces suggest they can't be bothered to look up easily found facts. It's nothing personal, I just find it a bit lazy. (And it's the sort of thing best avoided, because if a reader can so easily realize that a reporter hasn't bothered to look up a simply-known fact, it feeds into reader skepticism on the rest, whether or not the skepticism is actually warranted.)

I know this is probably a bit hard to accept: But reporters don't know everything. Nor do they always have the time to put every single detail together.

There is a lot of confusion over what a site specific to a show does and a site that tries to cover a wider gamut. We cover a wider gamut, and many times, I am putting together stories as quickly as I can IN MY SPARE TIME. I have a life outside the site. Hell, I have a paying job outside the site. I cannot be here as a receptacle of every single item out there, so that when I take my time to discuss this here on Whedonesque, something I do because I feel it's important to be accessible and to discuss things (I mean, there are few places with savvier readers than Whedonesque), that I can grab every tidbit of information when necessary.

If it's necessary for you to judge that I didn't have the "Prison Break" information on hand in the middle of a discussion here in this comment section, then that is your choice. It seems like an odd way to approach something, but if it makes you happy, then I don't have the heart to stop you.
@gossi This site has provided little useful information. In fact, all it is is an opinion based on the fact that series have to reach certain overall numbers (no matter what its situations) to be renewed. Unfortunately, that's not the way the world works.

@hunted Whether you would like to accept it or not, I can't control that. All I can say is that I've been around for more than a decade, and our reputation is based on our ability to dig up rumors and have the right sources.

I will give you a more recent example of proof, however. Although we stopped doing spoilers with "Battlestar Galactica," I can tell you that we successfully reported the identity of the Final Cylon (we actually didn't reveal it, but listed five people who could be the final Cylon, and guaranteed that one of them WAS the final Cylon. We included Ellen Tigh in the list). We also stated that the Earth they found in the middle of Season 4 is not our Earth we're on now. We even reported that the final scene of the series would take place in New York City (that was reported on New Year's Eve).

So I guess I'm just very lucky? :)
[Meh, nevermind. It's not worth it.]

[ edited by The One True b!X on 2009-04-07 03:55 ]
One thing to also note on why the fact that Fox Television is producing a show for Fox Network gives it a little bit of an added bonus:

Fox, or should we say the overall company of News Corp., will benefit more from alternative post-broadcast distribution methods than if it were a show from another network.

For instance, "Battlestar Galactica" may have lasted a little bit longer than its ratings would indicate (based on the cost of the show) because the show was produced by NBCU, and was broadcast on one of its outlets. That means any DVD, iTunes, or other distribution post-broadcast would come back to benefit NBCU.

But it's a different story for, say, "Stargate SG-1." While SciFi Channel had a chance to air and make money off of the original broadcast of the series, the fact is, MGM produces the show, so anything it does outside of its broadcast goes into the coffers of MGM rather than NBCU. So even thought "Atlantis" may have been cheaper to produce than BSG, and maybe even generated more revenue than BSG in the broadcast schedule, the fact is that MGM collects the licensing fee, and will get the benefit of post-broadcast distribution nodes.

Does that mean Dollhouse is guaranteed a pickup? Of course not. "Firefly," as others have mentioned, was in a similar position -- produced by Fox Television (and ME and others, of course, as secondary shingles) and aired on Fox's network. But Fox didn't renew the show.

I never stated in any shape or form that Dollhouse was definitely coming back, or that a decision was even nearer. I received word that the show is not as doomed as some people think, and that Fox is considering allowing it time to develop in a second season, possibly on a new night. That is exactly what we reported. An analysis of the numbers, and yes using our own stability index rating system as just one tool in a box of many, was just added material to help give our readers -- who we feel to be as sophisticated as you would find right here on Whedonesque -- some additional analysis to consider.

I'm not here to drive people's hopes up. I would like to see the show come back. I wasn't impressed with the first couple of episodes, but after that, I've been glued, and I have enjoyed the overall story, and would like to see it continue. it's probably the most serious Joss Whedon production I have seen in a long time, but I think there's nothing wrong with that at all. Whedon is not just about comedy and demons and space cowboys -- he is capable of doing so much more than that.

I think a lot of the criticism here has been fair, and I appreciate that. For the minority that wasn't that fair, ::shrugs:: what can you do? There are people who are going to doubt others no matter what, either for legitimate reasons, or for whatever reasons they have. No one can change that ... and I stopped trying many years ago.

I can only report what I report. If the information ends up coming true, then great! If not, then we lick our wounds and move on to the next story.

I have been working on about 50 things at once right now (where I was supposed to have taken tonight off after work to just relax and get over this weird cold I have), so I haven't been able ti compile examples.

But just so you know that in regards to our past rumors, outside of some already mentioned here, we also were the first to report that when BSG was renewed for a fourth season of just 13 episodes, there was still a chance for a back nine. If that back-nine were ordered, however, it would indicate the end of the series.

Just weeks later, it was announced that BSG's back-nine had been picked up, and at the same time, it would be the show's final season.

There are so many more, but to be honest, I would have to go look them up. I try to remember everything, but it's hard to do. In fact, its easier for me to remember the times we ended up being wrong than right ... but that's just the perfectionist in me.
Thanks for explaining the network/production company angle better, AlphaMichael. I agree with you that it must be good business for News Corp to keep the show, big picture-wise.
Thanks, Daniel ... and just FYI ... I am not the Alpha that is pulling the strings in "Dollhouse" hehehe! =P
All these @'s are getting intense on here.
I have to say, it's getting a bit uncomfortable in here.

Gossi and TheOneTrueB!x, you guys are well-respected round these parts, and I definitely enjoy both of you being here, but it just seems you're being a bit hard on AlphaMichael here... and I don't really know why. As he states, he never once said DH is coming back for sure... he had a source, who he admitted he can't name, and this is what the source said... that FOX is thinking about renewing it.

I don't understand the need to jump all over him.

AM, I, for one, am grateful for the article. Whether it comes true or not... we'll have to wait and see.
I didn't jump all over him, although I got close at the very end which is why I blanked out my last comment to begin with.

My only point was that there frequently are entirely legitimate reasons people might be skeptical of any given reporter's material. And when one writes in public, one is subject to public questions about that writing. For any one person or another to voice skepticism, or to explain why they might have such skepticism isn't "jumping all over" anyone. It's part and parcel of vetting publicly reported or claimed information.

I've been on AlphaMichael's end of that dynamic. As has anyone who's involved themselves in any part of the world of reporting. You address it, you survive it, and then you go on to the next thing. Big whoop.

ETA some proof reading of really horrid typos.

[ edited by The One True b!X on 2009-04-07 07:37 ]
But on the general subject at hand.

Nick C's recent quoting of Kevin Reilly in TV by the Numbers comments, Airlock Alpha's piece linked here, and Dollverse's follow-up of sorts to it all seem to me to have one thing in common:

Some person or persons at Fox would like to figure out a way to renew it if there's some sort of realistic method of doing so to be found somewhere. But ultimately that doesn't really tell us anything at this point.

Does that more or less sum it up?
b!X I think that mischaracterises the Airlock Alpha article which doesn't just say that FOX would like to renew the show if it can get enough viewers (obviously) but also says that they're considering moving it to a new night to see if it can pick up more viewers there. That seems like news to me (though obviously we don't know the source)
In fact, all it is is an opinion based on the fact that series have to reach certain overall numbers (no matter what its situations) to be renewed. Unfortunately, that's not the way the world works.

In fairness, their Renewal/Cancel index was demonstrably a reasonably accurate predictor (for scripted shows) last season. Can't find the Blipnetwork predictions for last season. Was the hit rate as good ?

As to the rest, I don't understand the basis for vehement argument either way. Alphamichael admits that his (totally understandably) unattributed information should be treated as at best how Fox feels now (though when "now" is/was isn't specified i.e. was it before or after the overnights for 'Needs' ?) and that it should be seen as a rumour and so that's how i'm treating it. And whether that's how Fox as a whole feels or how one executive feels or how one executive's PA interprets them as feeling etc. also can't be judged without knowing the source - again, that's unavoidable and understandable but still pertinent IMO. He isn't claiming it as concrete information about the fate of the show and so my position's unchanged i.e. i'm still waiting for concrete information about the fate of the show.

That said, if you post something on a public forum then people are free to respond to it and to question it and that's not a personal attack, that's just how thinking people should always respond to new information from any source.
TVByTheNumbers were right over 95% of the time with their Renew/Cancel index. It's unfair to say they don't know what they're on about, because it's easily the best ratings analysis online at the moment. For serious.

b!X, you've absolutely summed it up as I hear it.
We were the first to announce Buffy's and Angel's cancellations, for instance, as well as Firefly. AlphaMichael | April 06, 17:10 CET


Due respect Alphamichael, but you do realize that Buffy wasn't "cancelled", right?
I'm guessing a slip of the brain.

I'm just along for the ride at this point, but I feel like boycotting network altogether, if they cancel both T:TSCC and Dollhouse. I have to admit to loving T:TSCC almost as much as I've come to love Dollhouse, over the last three eps.
So I'm going to be one really pissed-off camper, if we lose both. With BSG having just finished (*still sniffling with the occasional sob*), where's the SciFi? Where are the kick-ass women?

OK, I'm breaking my own rule about getting bitter in advance.

Blaaah.
Some person or persons at Fox would like to figure out a way to renew it if there's some sort of realistic method of doing so to be found somewhere. But ultimately that doesn't really tell us anything at this point.

Does that more or less sum it up?

The One True b!X | April 07, 07:46 CET


We sum up now ?? And with fewer than 150 comments??
Naaaa, never. ;)
@jhflbuffy (AM, I, for one, am grateful for the article. Whether it comes true or not... we'll have to wait and see.)

Thanks for the sentiment! Sadly, if I bring cancellation news, people understandably get upset. So I had hoped if I had brought possible renewal news, people would be happy. I should've known better, hehehe! =P But it's OK. There are a lot of passionate people out there on both sides, and appreciate the comments. :)

@The One True B!X My only point was that there frequently are entirely legitimate reasons people might be skeptical of any given reporter's material.

Readers should always be skeptical of what they read, no matter what the source. Otherwise, they will simply believe everything they read. So I am all for that, even with the stuff I write. :)

And when one writes in public, one is subject to public questions about that writing. For any one person or another to voice skepticism, or to explain why they might have such skepticism isn't "jumping all over" anyone. It's part and parcel of vetting publicly reported or claimed information.

But there are ways to question and then there are ways to question. In your case, you decided to kick me around because here in this comment area I didn't say that "Prison Break" was replacing "Sarah Connor," and that was such common knowledge, that I would know that. Or that I should be researching to back up every single response I make here.

If I had included that in my story, and didn't state that I knew what the show was, then I would concede on this point, because you would be right. For me to write a story, I should at the very least make sure that I have the right information out there, and the most up-to-date. That is what readers expect of me, and if I didn't come through, then I hope you and 50,000 other people would jump on me about that.

But because I didn't have that knowledge in a discussion I had here, suddenly, it brought my whole story into question, and I didn't appreciate that. I don't have to come here and discuss this, but I am, because I care a lot about what you and others think and your thoughts on this. Also, the only way to make savvy readers more savvy is to be there to discuss things with them, and that way we BOTH learn a lot. :) I know I learn quite a bit in these discussions. :)

I've been on AlphaMichael's end of that dynamic. As has anyone who's involved themselves in any part of the world of reporting. You address it, you survive it, and then you go on to the next thing. Big whoop.

I have no hard feelings toward anyone here. I have thick skin, but that doesn't mean I'm not going to passionately defend myself where I need to defend myself (and admit mistakes where there are mistakes), so I do appreciate your responses. :)
(By the way, this was a double post, so I am just doing a second batch of responses as planned in the spot, so that is the reason for the edit)

@sage -- I don't want to get into a discussion about other sites and what they do, because to be honest, that's unfair to them.

Granted, this particular site took a potshot or two at me in their comments, but hey, what are you doing to do?

But in my brief opinion (because I don't want to speak too much on other sites unless they have the opportunity to talk about it), the renew/cancel index is nothing more than looking at a show's 18-49 average demo, and drawing a red line of pass-fail.

It's a bit elementary, and is completely simplifying a rather complex process. To say that shows live or die simply by an 18-49 average demo red line is really turning it into a crapshoot. A 95 percent accuracy? I'm sure it is. It's not that hard for many of us to look down a list of shows and see how it's averaging, and say what shows are going and what are not. But it's that 5 percent that is really interesting.

Using the site's system, "Sarah Connor" should've never received a full season pickup. Yet it did. We got that one wrong, too ... but at the same time, we were told of a position the network had taken at that moment in time. What changed was Warner Bros. TV slashing its licensing fee, which allowed the show to continue.

The index, as interesting as it is in concept, does not take any of those variables into account. It also would not accurately track the fate of CBS shows, because Les Moonves could care less about the 18-49 demo. He doesn't try to create shows that appeal in those demos, and if they hit it, great. If not, he has other demos he's more interested in.

Also, some shows could have stable 18-49 demos, but still face cancellation. For instance The CW cleaned house on a lot of shows a couple years back, despite stable ratings for most of them (which would've all been fails under this cancel/renew system) because they wanted to attract a FEMALE demo.

There is nothing wrong with this site's cancel/renew index. In fact, I think it's a cool thing to do. But it is nothing more than a crapshoot. Because to be honest, the best way to predict the fate of shows is not just by numbers, but also by network motivations. You have to know what those motivations are, and you have to know ALL (or at least most) of the variables that are involved.

Our "Sarah Connor" report ended up being considered a fail not because I'm a moron, but because we weren't told that Warner Bros. TV was willing to slash its licensing fee. I don't think even our source thought that was that much of a possibility at the time, especially in this economic environment.

But I prefer to be wrong because of some unexpected variable being thrown into the mix, then because I called heads and the quarter landed tails.

[ edited by AlphaMichael on 2009-04-07 15:54 ]
@saje Alphamichael admits that his (totally understandably) unattributed information should be treated as at best how Fox feels now (though when "now" is/was isn't specified i.e. was it before or after the overnights for 'Needs' ?)

My bad, Saje. I can tell you that this was the position as of Sunday night. Whether they had that position before or after overnights, I don't know. I can only vouch for when I spoke with my source, which was Sunday.

@Shey Due respect Alphamichael, but you do realize that Buffy wasn't "cancelled", right? I'm guessing a slip of the brain.

Not a slip of the brain at all. A "cancellation" to me is any show that is pulled off the air. The order has been canceled by the network. I know that has come to mean something more negative, but it's a general term to mark a termination of a series, no matter what the reasons were, or who initiated it.
AlphaMichael, I appreciate your article and your comments here. Very insightful. It's refeshing to get solid information from a legitimate industry insider for a change. Your comments have answered a lot of questions that I've had regarding the relationship between a network and a studio, and more. THANKS!
Err, no offence to Alphamichael but how do we know he's an industry insider ? My impression was he was a journalist with "a source" ?

In fact, I think it's a cool thing to do. But it is nothing more than a crapshoot.

Just to be clear, I haven't worked out if it's 95% accurate and it wasn't me that said that, it was gossi. But to say "it is nothing more than a crapshoot" is a bit daft - clearly it fares much better than chance (what I take it you mean by 'crapshoot') as far as predicting which shows will be cancelled or renewed. Or if you're actually saying you win at craps that often then please take me with you the next time you play ;).

So it might well be a simplification but it also clearly works in the majority of cases. That said, I agree it's the shows that seemingly defy the obvious predictions that make it interesting and I also agree that in order to actually know an outcome you have to be aware of ALL the variables. I think you'll agree that neither yourself nor TVbythenumbers are aware of ALL the variables at work here (though i'm happy to believe you're both acting in good faith according to the information you have) and that sources, as you note yourself, can be in the best of faith but still wrong or only partially informed.

So in other words, Fox hasn't decided yet which is good news IMO (because if they had it seems likely it'd be to cancel given the less than stellar performance so far) and when Fox decide, then we'll know. Until then, as you say yourself, we don't.
I'm still pessimistic about the show's chances, but to me this article and others make clear that even if Dollhouse is eventually cancelled, it was not left on Fridays to die. I think there will be a number of people (especially commenters on sites like TV By The Numbers) who, post-cancellation, will be saying "We told you so!" Sometimes it feels like everyone with a keyboard and an Internet connection has said that the show is dead in the water, that it's got no chance, or that Fox screwed Joss over. The impression I've gotten from everything I've read is that those assertions simply aren't true. Even if Dollhouse *eventually* gets cancelled, it is not dead yet, it wasn't dead last month, and it certainly wasn't dead before the premiere. Let's remember that if and when the ax finally falls. And, obviously, let's hope the show comes out swinging in the last five episodes.
@saje Err, no offence to Alphamichael but how do we know he's an industry insider ? My impression was he was a journalist with "a source" ?

That is true ... I would classify myself as a journalist with inside sources, more than an insider myself.

Just to be clear, I haven't worked out if it's 95% accurate and it wasn't me that said that, it was gossi. But to say "it is nothing more than a crapshoot" is a bit daft - clearly it fares much better than chance (what I take it you mean by 'crapshoot') as far as predicting which shows will be cancelled or renewed. Or if you're actually saying you win at craps that often then please take me with you the next time you play ;).

I think my description of it is quite accurate. While the odds that their system works is better than a coin flip, it's not exactly the most logical way to take it. And the fact that they ignore outside variables, even when presented to them, makes me question the overall viability of it even more.

I don't have enough data on hand to show if the prediction model would hold that high of an accuracy rate in previous years, but I did point out specific examples that were fresh in my mind where the model would not have worked.

It would be like saying you can predict what will happen next year in the economy using nothing more than how stocks are ticking up or down over a period of time. While it might produce some semblance of accuracy, the accuracy is actually more artificial. I can look at 20 stocks and say, "This will go up, this will not," and I might even be 90 percent right. But how great of a predictor am I if I'm just looking at the ups and downs of the stock, and not taking anything else into account (like if the company is carrying a lot of debt, if they are about to lose a lawsuit, if they are about to make a major work force reduction, etc.).

That is where the "crapshoot" comment comes in. It might yield a high accuracy rate one year, but a low one the next. And it's the inconsistency of it that makes it crapshooting, not just results of a single year or a couple of years.


So it might well be a simplification but it also clearly works in the majority of cases.

And if that's the means you wish to use to determine the fate of shows, I respect that. Like I said, you might see strong results at some points, but weak results at other points. I feel that when making these types of predictions, more than just its baseline number should be considered.

I think you'll agree that neither yourself nor TVbythenumbers are aware of ALL the variables at work here (though i'm happy to believe you're both acting in good faith according to the information you have) and that sources, as you note yourself, can be in the best of faith but still wrong or only partially informed.

You are absolutely correct, and I have never denied that at all. In fact, that's the reason why we were wrong on the "Sarah Connor" pickup -- we didn't have all the variables.

And I can NEVER have all the variables anyway. Because there is one other variable that we cannot always predict -- how the man (or woman) in charge is going to decide. Sometimes, it's just a gut thing, and that's something we can't really predict. :)


So in other words, Fox hasn't decided yet which is good news IMO (because if they had it seems likely it'd be to cancel given the less than stellar performance so far) and when Fox decide, then we'll know. Until then, as you say yourself, we don't.

Exactly. :)
@jkalderash -- And one thing to remember because of that is that now is the opportunity to get your friends to watch it, to download it on iTunes, to get the buzz going on the show. If you know some Nielsen families, even better! Get after them to watch the show ...

It's not too late yet. But sometimes, people start rallying for their show when it's too late.

And yes, sadly, one side or the other will say "I told you so!" but whether I'm right or my naysayers are right, that doesn't make one smarter than the other, or more attuned to ratings than anyone else.

That's what usually happens when I'm on the losing end of something like this. People use it to smack me around (while ignoring their own shortcomings, or the shortcomings of whatever outlet they supported), and it's just rude. If there is anything that eventually encourages me to retire from entertainment reporting, it's the whole arrogance that comes with being right.

Not that I have never been arrogant in my life. Hell, way too much. But at the same time, if "Dollhouse" is renewed, I won't be slapping this other site at all. I like their insights, and even if I disagree with some of their methodology and their propensity to kick around other news outlets (I have no idea why anyone would do that ... we all have the same goals in the end: To be fans), and we're all allowed to be wrong. Even them. Even me.

It's how we respond to being wrong (or being right) that really defines us, and it will be interesting to see how this turns out.
Because there is one other variable that we cannot always predict -- how the man (or woman) in charge is going to decide. Sometimes, it's just a gut thing, and that's something we can't really predict. :)

On unrelated topic: This is why I think not even Joss knows the extent of the importance of the Firefly DVDs getting Serenity greenlit three months later.

Joss only knows what the studio wanted him to know.
I think he knows more than that. He's been in the business long enough to understand what's going on and what's being spun.

Also there's the omniscience.
Succatash, there's a difference between a studio deciding to make a movie and a studio making a big PR song and dance about an official announcement, the latter having more to do with having finalized contracts and stuff so it can be properly and legally announced. That technical announcement might have come after the DVDs were on sale, but the actual decision to make the movie happened well before.

We've documented this eight ways to Sunday, a million times here. You can remove any and all of Joss' statements from the equation and it doesn't change those actual historical facts.
On unrelated topic: This is why I think not even Joss knows the extent of the importance of the Firefly DVDs getting Serenity greenlit three months later.

Joss only knows what the studio wanted him to know.


Would that still be how you felt if Joss had said categorically that the DVDs made it possible Succatash ? ;)

That is where the "crapshoot" comment comes in. It might yield a high accuracy rate one year, but a low one the next. And it's the inconsistency of it that makes it crapshooting, not just results of a single year or a couple of years.

OK but to say "it's a crapshoot" is a positive assertion, it's different than saying "We don't know, maybe it's a crapshoot". I.e. maybe this year or next year it'll be way off, maybe it's pure coincidence that they had any success with it at all. But right now (admittedly based on one season), the evidence is that it's quite accurate. And the results are at least tabulated and on display for each of us to judge for ourselves.

Does it work for every show ? No, clearly not, as can be seen from the table itself. Does your method ? Also clearly not, by your own admission. That's where the unknown variables come into it. But where predictions are concerned it makes sense to look at it on balance and on balance they're right much more often than they're wrong. If you're right as often as they are (preferably in predictions based on the same inside source this news came from) then it's literally a coin-toss as to who we should "believe".

Either way, it comes back to "We don't know, wait and see". Which has always been the case.
95% is pretty effective, but you also have to remember they're not just doing bubble shows. American Idol is a pretty safe bet to come back, for example. And shows with awful ratings, pretty safe bets they won't come back. If you take out the sure-fire bets either way, that 95 will drop an awful lot.
@AlphaMichael - I'm trying, but it turns out, crazily enough, most people I know couldn't give a crap whether or not Dollhouse is renewed. :) I'll keep posting to Facebook and Twitter.

I personally appreciate the renew/cancel index. They document other factors in the text, and if you're not "up" on all of the ratings for every show on every network, it's an excellent way to get a quick overview. I definitely make sure to check out the score for the five or six shows I watch. It's also an easy thing to point to in discussions about other shows - e.g., posters on HIMYM boards have been stressing about the show getting only a four-episode order (terrible, I know), so it's reassuring to look at the nice green entry for the show on the renew/cancel index.
Would that still be how you felt if Joss had said categorically that the DVDs made it possible Succatash ? ;)

Sort of. I'd rather hear it from Mary Parent's boss's boss. ;)

Joss wasn't given a clear ultimatum by Universal saying, "We need X amount of DVDs sold." It doesn't mean there wasn't one behind the scenes, as it's hard to prove a negative.

But if Universal HAD announced an official DVD ultimatum, things would be much more clear cut and transparent, easier to prove and believe without all the armchair quarterback "he said, she said" quotes that fly around.

ETA: And, of course, I am far more likely to question something that doesn't make any sense. ;)

[ edited by Succatash on 2009-04-07 21:54 ]
the actual decision to make the movie happened well before

The thing is, Bix - there are tons of movies that studios/creators want to make that get stuck in development and never happen. There's an official greenlight for a reason.
Well, I'm certainly getting an education by following this thread.

I sure hope they take into account Hulu viewings, because in our broadcastless household the internet is the only way we watch.

I think in regards to the renewal of Dollhouse, I will apply a lesson learned in the army: I will believe it after I've finished watching the Season 2 Premier.
Woohoo!

Renewal!

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