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May 18 2009

"DVR viewing can save low-rated programs". So says FOX Business, quoting Fox exec Kevin Reilly in reference to Dollhouse. More quotes from Kevin about Dollhouse and Joss can be found here. Fox additionally say: "DOLLHOUSE delivers an educated audience, surpassing its Total U.S Adults 18-49 average in "Adults 18-49 with 4+ Years of College" and that "DOLLHOUSE [is] the #1 most time-shifted show on network television".

Where do they say the blurb about the educated audience?
FOX press release. I'll find a link now.
Tis alright I found the relevant link thanks to our friends at Fox (this is killing me btw).
They don't at the link. They do in a press release, mentioned in another thread.
iFMagazine had more from this, including the great quote:

"If we cancelled his show, I would have had hundreds of emails from his fans this morning," says Reilly. "That audience has a core you can work with."
I assume that the "#1 most time-shifted show on network television" thing is a sleight of hand on FOX's part. It's #1 in terms of percentages, but not in terms of absolute numbers. Right?
The emails quote I've now seen three versions of. One with "hundreds", one with "hundreds of thousands", and one with "110 million". The latter is the first one I saw.
I loved reading that. Even the sad part about Terminator.
Jennifer Godwin (from E! Online), tweets that Kevin Reilly said the Dollhouse renewal "is a bet on Joss Whedon."
The "4+ years of college" metric is also being used to describe American Idol, House, Lie to Me, and 24 -- so make of that what you will (it's all great for us, of course).
You bet it is.
[In Checkpoint/Xander "I've logged field time" voice] I'm an educated audience! :)
Longer quote from Simon's link:

* DOLLHOUSE ranks #1 in its Friday 9pm time period among Adults 18-34 and Men 18-34 and #2 with Adults 18-49, Adults 25-54, Women 18-34, and Men 18-49/25-54.

* DOLLHOUSE delivered FOX’s highest-rated Friday series premiere in over four years (since 1/14/05) among Adults 18-49 and Adults 18-34.

* DOLLHOUSE delivers an educated audience, surpassing its Total U.S Adults 18-49 average in “Adults 18-49 with 4+ Years of College.”

* DOLLHOUSE averages a +40% increase from Live + Same Day to Live + 7 Day, making it the #1 most time-shifted show on network television.

So it's doing relatively well with younger viewers ("#1 in its (...) time period among Adults 18-34") and among more educated viewers; that probably gives them the ability to charge reasonable ad rates despite the low overall numbers.

[ edited by Tristan on 2009-05-18 20:09 ]
I actually think that JW's strong internet following played a role in FOX's thinking. Dr. Horrible's success may have contributed more than anyone there is willing to state.
It's a nice surprise, I didn't expect FOX to change their thinking so quickly to a new paradigm. Perhaps the current economic difficulty is forcing them to think outside the old box and accept that TV is changing.
Is it just me or where they actually responding to questions the fan base had... Whether or not DVR rating count...

Now if we can just get them to count some form of online viewing we'll be set for an accurate viewer count for all tv shows...

This is amazing.
Is it just me or where they actually responding to questions the fan base had... Whether or not DVR rating count...

Many of the people on the call could properly be considered part of the fan base. Also, many of them were legitimate questions, fan or not. (That said, most of the questions apparently were about Dollhouse, but now I can't remember where I just read that.)
God, I wish more execs could be like Kevin Reilly. The guy's been involved with Law And Order, ER, The Sopranos, Nip/Tuck, Rescue Me, The Office, Heroes, Friday Night Lights, 30 Rock, NewsRadio, My Name Is Earl, and others. I believe it was Reilly who saved the US Office from cancellation after its low-rated first season, and now he's done the same to Dollhouse. He's just ballsy as hell and has great taste.
Kevin Reilly is my new hero. Someone to lookup to.
Just like Superman.

ETA: Sorry, watching Smallville.

[ edited by Jayme on 2009-05-18 20:34 ]
Finally, an exec that actually wants to nurture quality shows on tv and give them the space they need to find an audience. :-)

(Although I still wonder why Virtuality was dropped).
The show for the educated audience? I knew it! While other series are cinema-like, Joss shows are more like opera ;-).
I don't take the 'educated audience' bit to be much of a compliment, or an's just numbers. More people are going to college, and this has been happening for the last 30 years or so. There are no longer prejudices against women or minorities or even the poor for wanting to obtain a college education, and there are more programs to help the poor in particular achieve this. Thus, more people are in college, and representing all kinds of people groups. The main demographic of American Idol viewers is those who are at an age in which they are either in college or have graduated college in the past 10 years.

So in my interpretation, Fox isn't saying Dollhouse attracts smarter people (though I think Joss Whedon attracts smarter people) - the fact that Dollhouse is lumped in with American Idol, which I consider to have an educated audience but has little to no potential to make any of its viewers actually think about anything of significance - means that Fox is looking at numbers, not meaning. They're not saying "Whedon viewers are smart," they're saying "Whedon viewers have college degrees" which can be interpreted as a statistic.
It certainly doesn't matter to Fox that the audience is educated or more intelligent (or not), but on average people with college educations make more money than those that don't have them. That little factoid matters to advertisers. And advertisers are still the ones paying the bills.
Just thought of something to add to the mix. With all the buzz about Fox renewing a show that performed lower than expected, so much so that LA Times is reported that the upfront discussion was "all about 'Dollhouse,'" isn't it likely we can expect some additional viewers to tune in to the season two premier out of curiosity as to why a network like Fox would have faith in a show that did not live up to what they had hoped for in terms of its first season?

Hey, run-on sentence.
CrazyKidBen, the average TV viewer hasn't ever heard of the upfronts and will never hear any buzz from them.
As Tamara said earlier, advertisers will pay far more for certain types of viewer that they believe will have more disposable income. In the UK the BARB (our version of Nielsen) breaks down viewing figures as:

AB - higher (A) or intermediate (B) managerial, administrative or professional
C1 - supervisory or clerical and junior managerial, administrative or professional
C2 - skilled manual workers
D - semi-skilled and unskilled workers
E - state pensioners, casual or lowest grade workers

Advertisers take this very seriously. A show that gets 1m AB viewers is worth vastly more than 2m D viewers in most cases.
If you're selling something aimed at C2 and D people then it's different.

[ edited by zz9 on 2009-05-18 23:40 ]
I could have clarified more. While I used the upfronts as an example of name-dropping, there are other venues where people unfamiliar with the show are asking what it's all about [social networking sites for the most part]. What I meant to draw attention to was that the buzz around the show being renewed in the face of low numbers may attract new viewers.
the buzz around the show being renewed in the face of low numbers may attract new viewers.

There already are people popping up on Twitter saying things along the lines of, "Now that it's renewed and I won't be left hanging, I'll finally check it out."
Yeah, I've come across lots of people who said they would only watch the show if it got a second season. Hopefully there are a lot of them
In my 200 word email (prompted by Miracle Laurie) to Fox executives, I emphasized that there were 7 people I know, all college educated or currently in college, who watch the show together, and that we watch all the commercials too because there simply nothing else on the air that interests us (at least on Fridays). I'd like to think my email passed under someone's nose! :)
The press release seems aimed at advertisers, and I'm assuming it is more about spinning Dollhouse as a good investment than reflective of the reasons they renewed. Have said that, obviously the ability to show the numbers as a good investment is key to whether you renew it.

It seems to me that all those demographic and DVR facts are also true for T:SCC, the main difference is that Fox owns the studio with Dollhouse, so it is an overall win for the company.

Call me cynical, but I'm guessing that Fox won't announce any screening of Epitaph One before the DVD is released either, as a favour to the studio.

To me, the most interesting thing about the renewal decision is that it implies (ok, may imply, but I'm an optimist, and I like to speculate) a couple of directions for network tv: 1) Shows will get cheaper; and 2) Shows that can make money through multiple streams have an advantage (esp. if their network and studio have a relationship).

I don't care much about cost, most of the shows I love are cheap, and i think shows with a strong fan following provide more interesting TV, on the whole, than those who excel in the casual viewer. So for me, so far, all good.
I asked askfox about ep. 13, hoping to get a general sense of when it would air, and they said, "We never ordered that episode - it will not air on FOX"

I guess they haven't heard?
"DVR viewing can save low-rated programs". So says FOX Business, quoting Fox exec Kevin Reilly in reference to Dollhouse.

No shite, Sherlock. What gave you the clue?
A lot of us have been talking about Time Shifting for a few YEARS now. Where ya been, genius?
Honestly. These people actually get paid money to be so clueless?
Yes, let's berate the man who's been championing quality TV for years now and who just saved Dollhouse. Good show!
I've been considering sending him a letter of thanks, actually. I can't decide if I will or not, though. It'd be nice if I knew I could get a bagel or something through security. A bagel shaped like Joss's head.
I'm wondering about that - would it have been Kevin Reilly or Peter Rice who saved Dollhouse?
I doubt Dollhouse would have gotten very far without Reilly standing by it the entire time, including during renewal talks. That's, obviously, speculation, but reasonable speculation. (Either way, it was still a crass and ungrateful thing to be said, up there. I'd like to believe this fandom has a little more class than that.)

[ edited by The One True b!X on 2009-05-19 04:30 ]
Oh yeah, I wasn't defending that comment (sorry AmazonGirl), I was just curious. Thanks
It was me. I convinced them with my email explaining why they should care about Joss' fanbase among college profs (we can deliver a large if coerced and captive audience):

" I have already assigned Dollhouse as a way of engaging students in discussions about identity, gender, power, science, feminism, etc. . . . Most of my classes feature an ongoing extra-credit assignment if Whedon has a current project, and students love this . So I engage hundreds college students/year in watching Whedon shows. . . . I teach smart, serialized television--shows that take up serious issues while telling great stories, shows we can watch the way we read literature. Lots of professors use shows this way. We bring a lot of "in the demo" eyeballs to your shows, students then buy DVD sets, tell their friends, have watching parties, etc.. I don't know how this audience would be measured.

I don't know that any of my students watch Dollhouse during its timeslot. What college student is watching TV on a Friday night? They all have computers, they all stream or DVR timeshift. There *must* be a way of counting these viewers! Plus, they are "long-term" committers. I hear almost every day from people who got hooked on one show or another in my class . . ."

I just hope all this newfound power doesn't corrupt us all absolutely. I've heard that can happen.
What subject do you teach, bunnykitty?
bunnykitty, I'm a college student, and I never missed a Dollhouse live... well except when my car broke down. But I only saw it an hour late. And yes, I often ditched my friends for an hour to watch it.

Its cause I'm socially handicapped, and my priorities do not resemble Earth priorities... they are more advanced. But yes, as a rule, most college students tend not to watch TV on Fridays. But I don't think to many dorm TVs have Nielson boxes anyway...
God, I wish more execs could be like Kevin Reilly.....He's just ballsy as hell and has great taste.

bonzob | May 18, 19:53 CET

A little vindication for b!x seems in order here. :)
I teach English lit and critical theory. And a smidgen of TV.
I e-mailed a thank you to Peter Rice and Kevin Reilly, as well as a thank you on Twitter. After all the years we (as a fandom) have spent complaining about the treatment given to Firefly by the Fox dcision-makers of the day, I wanted to express my appreciation for the current PTB's support of Dollhouse.

Of course it had to make economic sense to them, but I think the vocal - but not in a rude way - fans and Joss himself had a part in the decision-making. I did point out in my e-mail that I found Dollhouse so riveting, even from the first episode, that I didn't take my eyes of the screen during the entire episode, including commercials! I wouldn't even let people talk to me during the ads. :D
Don't know about b!x, but I think Zeit deserves big fluffy man-sized props for calling Reilly's balls and taste from the get-go. Just a-sayin'.
Yes, I was only on zeitgeist's bandwagon. Fluffies et cetera go over there.
Don't know about b!x, but I think Zeit deserves big fluffy man-sized props for calling Reilly's balls and taste from the get-go. Just a-sayin'.

SoddingNancyTribe | May 20, 05:50 CET

Yes, I was only on zeitgeist's bandwagon. Fluffies et cetera go over there.

The One True b!X | May 20, 06:03 CET

My bad. I was indeed confused about who doggedly reminded everyone at every opportunity that "this is not Firefly's FOX".

All apologies, zeitgeist. (It's good to be the "right" guy, yeah?) ;)
You guys are very sweet. I'm just glad that after all that time defending him and saying that if it was quality he would support it that he didn't make me look like a chump in front of my friends ;).

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