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May 16 2009

A Good Day for Unconventional Television. The fabulous Maureen Ryan (@moryan) aka The Watcher has a new entry up about Dollhouse's renewal and what it might mean for network television in general.

Could the tyranny of the Nielsen overnight ratings be over? If a network like Fox, which is not known for its sentiment and softness, renews a show like "Dollhouse," the paradigm has surely shifted.

My thoughts exactly, the implications of this fantastic news extend far beyond our own desire to see more of the show we love.

The way we watch shows is changing, and now a major network has signaled that they consider these changes widespread enough to warrant serious consideration for the finiancial viability of a project.

The key strategy for networks will probably always be to aim for mass appeal so that traditional advertising revenue can be generated, but the niche has just found a comfortable home in the business model. Nerds spend money like no other demographic, they buy the DVDs and double dipping special editions, they buy the toys and the games,they stream online and purchase episodes on itunes. You don't need a hit TV show to make money, you just need a small committed group of nerds.

Color me thrilled that the terribly outmoded Nielsen's system just lost a little steam, I just wish it had come in time to save Firefly or Pushing Daisies.
Great article! Hope it's true that Nielsen's rein is over!! And yes, wish this had been the case with Firefly, Miracles, Wonderfalls and the many other shows that ended way before their time!
A well written piece, which nicely sums up the reasons behind FOX's renewal decision- $$$! If they make it, we will eat it up with a spork and yes indeed, I AM in the target demographic.

I wholeheartedly agree that the Nielsen system is outdated and needs to be reformed. (I think the peeps at Nielsen know it too, given their recent moves to downplay the number of watchers that online media such as Hulu are generating.)

And it's really lovely that all these shows that came OUT of the writer's strike will continue to be 'carrying the banner' next season.
Loved this article! Thanks for posting!
Zeitgeist, if Dollhouse gets renewed, well... that makes you completely right this whole time -- about Kevin Reilly, and New Fox, and everything. King of TV, pretty much. How did you know?
if Dollhouse gets renewed

Um. Hello?
...

[ edited by Succatash on 2009-05-16 05:44 ]
Reilly really should consider going to Comic Con. He'll get a Godlike reaction from the fans. He's quickly becoming a geek legend.
Succatash, dunno if you missed it but Dollhouse has been renewed. Hence b!X's 'Um. Hello?'
Thanks, Let Down. I wasn't sure it was official. WOo hoo

Zeitgeist deserves a big round of applause for sticking to his guns and being right this whole time. Also, thanks to the first Save Dollhouse campaign for getting things done. Way to go!
Since Fox helped US by renewing the show, I'm wondering if we can return the favor by asking how we can help THEM?

That is: most of us are not Nielson families. But we want to help Fox make money on this show so they keep renewing it. Can we explain that situation to them and ask them to advise us on what we can do that drive the metrics they care about? (i.e., do they want HULU views? iTunes sales?)

We can speculate, but why not ask Fox directly and act as a team? They're on our side.
Nice article, very well stated. And not to take away from that but where is that picture from? (I don't think I've seen that yet but I want to, badly.)
Presumably it's a promo shot taken during the filming of "Needs".
I'm not convinced this is a paradigm shift. While Fox isn't known for its patience in general, it does have a track record of giving the occasional show more of a chance to catch on. X-Files and Arrested Development both leap to mind...
^and there's our new hero Kevin Reilly. His track record is better than Fox's.
I've never wanted to go to Comic Con more.
You don't need a hit TV show to make money, you just need a small committed group of nerds.


Unless the show is very cheap to produce, I doubt this is true or will become true in the near future. Let's not overestimate the revenue potential of nerds in the way that Universal overestimated the ability of fan-directed word of mouth to get people into theaters for Serenity.

Likely the revenue potential of alternate distribution channels was one of a host of factors which affected Fox's decision. But if the ratings don't go up in Season 2, both Dollhouse and the new paradigm will look less attractive.
I've never wanted to go to Comic Con more.


Ditto. I have the time, just not the funds. Yet another event I miss out on.
That's just typical, why didn't this happen when Firefly needed - where was Fox then .... no wait... hm.. never mind.
(i.e., do they want HULU views? iTunes sales?)

And what about FOX on Demand? I like the way you think, SteveP.
What it comes down to is that if Dollhouse became the kind of show that it did in the back half, garnering not only ardent fan support, but an outpouring of critical cheers, then it would be exactly the kind of show that Kevin Reilly has become known for offering a lifeline and a chance to grow. Joss & co. and Fox need to concentrate on what worked in the back half and give the show more promotional attention to bring in new folks and/or folks who were in the 'it's just going to get cancelled' or 'stopped watching before Man on the Street' camps. They definitely have their work cut out for them, but I'm glad that New Fox is acting a bit like NBC under Reilly and FX under Reilly. This slash and burn style of programming that's been in vogue in the past few years is not what brought us some of TV's most belived shows. There are so many classics that, if launched in the past few years, would've been consigned to the scrap heap without a full season airing. It may be worth directly asking Fox PR what would help them show that this show is deserving of the shot it's getting and I may just go send off that email. At some we can talk more about how the numbers looked worse than they were given the total number of folks watching and share %s and stuff like that. The important thing is that Joss & co. made a quality show and Fox were able to see that and respond to it, as were a vocal fanbase and critics with a means of expressing their appreciatiation publicly. Good on all of 'em :)!
It would be nice to believe that this really was a sign of things to come. There really has been a sense of doom around pretty much all new television series just recently and obviously especially anything genre related. You almost feel that you don't want to bother getting into any new show until it has at least been renewed once, just so you can avoid the disappointment of yet another series being axed before it can even get itself established. The problem being that when lots of people think that way it has the knock on effect of getting the show canceled because of low ratings. Vicious circle.

I can't exactly condemn anyone for thinking like that though. I'm definitely guilty of this 'wait and see' attitude these days although I live in the UK so I'm not exactly damaging the ratings by not watching straight away. Still, if I did live in the US I imagine I'd probably have a similar outlook. I really hope that what has happened here with Dollhouse and to an extent with The Sarah Connor Chronicles (a couple of seasons back I really can't see how that show would have been given a full second season on Fox) is the start of a new way of thinking for the networks that just might generate an equally hopeful and positive response from the viewing public and that this will lead to less examples of the likes of Firefly. We can hope, at least.
The BBC Entertainment home page have just linked to this article which is surprising seeing as Dollhouse hasn't even started airing in the UK yet.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/entertainment/8053531.stm it's half way down as 'SciFi Surpise'

:D
It does however start in the UK on Tuesday.
Yes b!x it does and I shall no doubt watch it again and record it :)
And what about FOX on Demand?

Personally FOD stinks in regards to viewing on-line. It's always lagging and there's no way to make it better. At least with Hulu, you can pause and let it buffer in more. I think it might actually be better to just promote Hulu on the Fox site and take down the FOD. Anyone else have this problem?
I've had FOD crash my browser a couple times, but on the other hand, the last few times when I've watched Dollhouse right after it was put up they failed to show me any commercials. That's much rarer on Hulu ;) (So yes, it's quite buggy. Haven't had too much lagging though.)
Does FOD show the amount of hits for each video? There was an entry on dollhouse_tv about it.
As ActualSize said "I like the way you think SteveP." I think the biggest way to show our support and garner more support within Fox for us is to extend the hand of friendship has Joss has done for us. Just as Joss has made it possible for us to get up close and personal with his shows, now is the time for the fans to give Fox a chance to get up close and personal with the fans. Let's show them why we are such a great fan base and make a big effort to include them in what we do from now on.

I say this is the turning point where everyone makes a change in how we think. Stop thinking of Fox and the television conglomorate as our enemy. As SteveP said:

We can speculate, but why not ask Fox directly and act as a team? They're on our side.

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