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June 19 2009

Dollhouse's seasonal DVR ratings. TV by the Numbers takes a final look at the DVR ratings for the past season. Dollhouse has the largest 18-49 demo increase and the greatest percentage of DVR viewing for broadcast TV.

That's twice I've heard TV by the Numbers say Dollhouse's budget has been reduced to reality-show levels. Is half of the old budget (the estimate I'd been hearing, anyway) seriously equal to a reality show budget, or are they being hyperbolic?

I mean, if it is seriously at reality-show levels, then that gives me oodles of confidence for Dollhouse's future. That's not even sarcasm, reality shows don't need amazing ratings at all.
Jobo, they don't know what the production budget is. They are just guessing.
I also don't think it was reduced to half of the old budget. "Epitaph One" had half of the old budget, because nobody paid for that ep. I cannot imagine S2 being shot consistently with the E1-budget.
20th Century Fox did pay for Epitaph One.
Well, yeah, obviously. That's what I meant. :)
"Since I think the real reason Dollhouse was renewed was that its future budget was reduced to reality show levels, and the DVR viewing was just public posturing, I donít expect to hear any more about it from them."

If that was the case then why not just do that for every show? 20th and FBC may be owned by the same company but 20th has to believe it will make a profit making the show and FBC has to believe it will make a profit airing the show.

If every show that had low ratings could be saved by the network simply saying "Yeah, we're going to need you to go ahead and make the show for half price. K? Thanks." then they'd all do it.
I wish TVbytheNumbers would stop making snide comments about everything. Why can't they just be a good resource for the ratings numbers?
If this isn't indicative of a show which has potential to grow on another night, I don't know what is. Sigh.
I agree wholeheartedly, flugufrelsarinn. TV By The Numbers' writers seem to have a definite grudge against the show, despite their claims otherwise. Every article I have read from them regarding Dollhouse has had a very negative tone.
Weren't they the ones saying that their formula proved the show would be cancelled? I guess they hold a grudge because it proved them wrong.
They repeated to no end that Dollhouse was as good as dead, even making fun of any other possible outcome. I don't see any real expertise or capacity to predict the future on their part, it's just opinions based on previous knowledge, and that little reputation they had was hurt badly at the upfronts. I guess they're still smarting over the renewal. And since they already predicted Dollhouse won't receive the back nine I don't see their attitude changing any time soon. Oh, well.
They have a point, though-- network TV is still stuck on Nielsen ratings. Watch it as it happens, people!
Or perhaps the answer is Don't watch it as it happens. The more those DVR numbers grow over live numbers, the more the studios have to sit up and start learning new tricks.
EDIT: Delete this.

[ edited by Liam Mars on 2009-06-19 15:03 ]
Let's get a few misconceptions about TVBTN out of the way:

- First, they report on the ratings of a show, not the show itself. There's no "grudge against the show" (I think both of them have actually said that they liked a couple of episodes later in the season), there's only a "negative tone" on the ratings of the show.

- Second, this negativity can be easily explained: The ratings of the show did suck big time. There's no way around that. Not one person that is dealing with the ratings side of the TV business I've read of dared to claim otherwise.

- Third, from that perspective they repeatedly claimed that the show was dead, because it was the only logical thing to consider looking at the ratings, which is their expertise. They are not a "TV by the numbers and DVD sales"-site and most certainly not a "TV by the numbers with a little knowledge about proposed budget cuts and internal network dynamics"-site.

- Fourth, from the perspective of ratings, Dollhouse's renewal is indeed a (historically unprecedented) miracle and utterly inexplicable. That's what they repeatedly said. It's a professional evaluation from that point of view, nothing more. The Friday slot, 20th' willingness to cut the budget, the show's willingness to cut the budget, DVR viewing, long term strategic planning on Fox' behalf, Fox' expectations for the night, even "Epitaph One"... all these complicated factors that helped Dollhouse get renewed are not visible in the ratings.

- Fifth, since the renewal they have repeatedly adjusted their claims about their Renewal/Cancel index, always adding an (non-angry, non-pissed) "except on Fridays, 'cause as we've learned this year Fridays are obviously more complicated" (quoting from memory). They even went a long way in explaining how their index failed this year around, and not only on shows like Dollhouse. It predicted other stuff the wrong way too. That's no grudge, that's self-analysis and reflection on their own mistakes.

I also fail to see any snide comment in the linked article. They basically said: "Fox claimed DVR was important, but we don't believe that, because we believe the budget cuts are important." If anything, it's a snide remark on Fox's PR department, not Dollhouse.

[ edited by wiesengrund on 2009-06-19 16:05 ]
I generally agree with wiesengrund.

Back to where all this debate came from: I find it hard to believe that DH's budget has gone down to "reality show levels." Until that is backed by a number, I find it hard to believe that a show with sets, pre-production crews, writers, actors who could be finding work elsewhere, etc., etc., would cost the same as a reality show.

If the article is to be criticized, it is for hyperbole that is in danger of being misinterpreted.

[ edited by Ronald_SF on 2009-06-19 16:09 ]
Regarding tone, have to give credit to the TVBTN folks -- they seem to like to playfully tease their pro-dollhouse posters in a way that acknowledges how unusually obsessive a fanbase we are seen to be without using that as a reason to dismiss us.
All valid points Wiesgrund, but they were the ones saying that their system, and the ratings they were based on, would be the final, sole, factor in deciding renewal.

Clearly there are many other factors, DVR, Hulu, anticipated DVD sales, gut feeling on the network based on the showrunner pitch and so on. None of these should have been a surprise to anyone, we here discussed all these factors at great length in the run up to the decision.
But they wrote articles saying "Nielsen is all that matters, and it will be cancelled".

Saying "Fox say it's DVR but they are lying." is a snide remark. It is saying "It wasn't down to DVR because then our system would be at fault"
If it was a simple matter of cutting the budget then why isn't every show saved that way?
Count me as one of the people who think they are being snarky, and not in a funny Sawyer esque way.

zz9 pretty much summed up my feelings. Obviously Neilson ratings are HUGE, but not the end all and be all any more. Obviously Dollhouse proved it, regardless of them trying to explain it away.
wiesengrund, they repeatedly and also quite arrogantly stated time over time that the Nielsen ratings were the end-all, be-all criterion to judge a show's survival, and made fun of the posters who had the audacity to propose any other paradigm to judge a show's reach within the audience, especially DVR and Hulu, because they weren't their adored and revered Nielsen ratings. BUT, no matter how dead they deemed Dollhouse (and they started calling it dead from The Target onwards), they kept on fan-baiting us to their site with Dollhouse articles that said nothing else than "DH is failing, look at it failing, could it fail some more?" with a sneering tone. Why is that? Because Whedon fans are many and very Internet-present. They're not reporting, they're going out on a limb and take the statistically easy outcome as granted. It may not be mature, but I was happy as hell when Dollhouse was renewed also because it proved how simplicistic and arrogant they had been, and they continue on being so when they presume to know Fox's inside workings. Notice they are saying it's not Dollhouse's merit if it's being renewed, but the slash in the budget, and when they say "reality-shows level" it reeks of judgement. It's just another excuse for their face-loss a month ago.

Sorry if I sound harsh, but they've been harsh towards the show since its debut, and it looks likely they haven't learnt at all.
Perhaps people would like to focus on the data rather than the site. If people want to complain about how evil TV By The Numbers then they can do so else where. Otherwise they'll get banned because I really can't be bothered with site bashing here.
If they changed their name to "TV By Some of the Numbers," would that make folks happier?
[Focus on the data please thank you very much - Simon]

ETA: Aargh, didn't see it. Please delete if the party's over.

[ edited by wiesengrund on 2009-06-19 18:38 ]

[ edited by Simon on 2009-06-19 18:52 ]
USA today these days said that DVR viewers were a third of Dollhouses audience:

"And Friday, a night out for target younger viewers, led 1.5 million fans of Fox's Dollhouse, a third of its total audience, to press the record button."

http://www.usatoday.com/life/television/news/2009-06-17-dvr-ratings_N.htm?csp=34
This is the thing that confuses me... if the DVR is so good, wouldn't that support moving the show to a different time? I know DVR doesn't get as much money because you just fast forward through the commercials... But Dollhouse is staying at the same time. Which is confusing.
I think the DVR numbers mainly prove to 20th Century Fox: "There is a fanbase. It might not watch on Friday at 9, but it's there. Wait for the DVD sales." FBC themselves might not care much about DVR because of the commercial-skipping thing. (But they do care about the reduced price 20th can offer them because of the expected income in the long term.) So, by that logic FBC might as well keep it on Friday, where it doesn't have to pull awesome numbers to survive.
SteppenMerc, Fox still need to air something on Friday nights.
Much has been said about how reality shows get higher figures but they aren't as attractive for advertisers.
The Nielsen figures are broken down far more then the headline numbers we see. Totals for age, income, job type etc are very important and I believe Fox posted some figures saying that Dollhouse was very high in the "Viewers with four years of college" numbers for example.

Most advertisers prefer a million educated and wealthy viewers (with lots of disposable income) to two million unemployed bums living from paycheck to paycheck.
I must stop following links to that web site.

I find it really depressing reading about tv and the business of tv like it was sports.
KS, it is a lot like sports. Not sure why that would be depressing.
You should see comic book fans and sales figures. Oy.
You've pointed out the solution already, KS - stop reading about it all. I no longer follow the business-end of TV, and I'm happier, I've lost 20lbs, and my gray hair is turning brown again. :-).
I DVR almost everything I watch. I may be planning to be home at a certain time to watch a certain show, but I can't count on it. Besides, I have kids that I don't necessarily want to watch the same shows as I do. DVRing also allows me to pause at any time, to rewind, and to watch in slow motion.

When Buffy and Angel were originally aired, I recorded them on my VCR. That limited the number of shows I could record to one at a time. I can now record two shows at a time, while watching one of them or watching a recorded one. It's really nice to be able to watch a show when I want to, without either purchasing a DVD or ordering from NetFlix.

I finally watched Wolf Lake on SciFi thanks to my DVR. I'm really sorry that show didn't make it. If I'd had DVR then, I would probably have recorded it. Maybe a lot of other people would have, too, and it would have a few years run.

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