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October 06 2009

Profitability of Dollhouse vs. a House rerun. TV by the numbers breaks down hypothetical numbers for the profit a Dollhouse episode gives Fox vs. a rerun of House.

At the current ratings, it doesn't look good, but it's mentioned in the comments that a jump from a 1.0 to a 1.3 could be enough to make Dollhouse profitable over that House re-run.

What a shocking and unexpected story from TV By The Numbers. He's not the least bit bitter that they didn't cancel Dollhouse after that article he wrote, is he?
Hey you can't spell blogger without conjecture.
It's interesting to see these numbers all laid out in one place. The House or Bones rerun replacement is a point often made in ratings discussion threads here but without this kind of back-of-the-envelope calculations showing you what all might be factored in.
If Epitaph One has taught us anything, it's that Dollhouse is at its best when it's made for half the price, shot on handheld cameras, barely featuring Eliza Dushku in it and disposing entirely of it's "active of the week" formula.

[ edited by Aidan W. on 2009-10-06 02:43 ]
If Epitaph One taught us anything, it's that Maurissa and Jed can write and plot, and to expect big things from them.
Aidan, since E1 didn't air, we have no idea whether or not it's Dollhouse "at its best" in terms of ratings.
Personally I don't see epitaph 1 as a "step up" from most of the episodes in the 2nd half of Dollhouse's first season.

I think it was just a continuation of the awesomeness.

1 would put it as my fourth favourite episode behind Spy In the House Of Love, man on the street, and Briar Rose.
Dollhouse had its first uptick in the ratings with the episode Echoes, so arguable Dollhouse is at it's best when Adele and Topher are whacked out of their gord, Boyd plays beautiful piano, Echo listens to Rilo Kiley and Mellie is really sad.

Why should Echo be the only one to glitch? Everyone glitch, all the time! Do it for the ratings!
This gives me hope. Thank god. It's 6AM here.
rocknjosie: ...
Why should Echo be the only one to glitch? Everyone glitch, all the time! Do it for the ratings!


I'm glitching right now!
I love shows that expertly explore the darkness. I hate when shows I love garner so much dark press.
All this talk of glitching makes me want a series of Dollhouse print ads premised on the word "glitch" where the Glee ads say "glee".
All this talk of glitching makes me want a series of Dollhouse print ads premised on the word "glitch" where the Glee ads say "glee".

"It's Bitchin' to be Glitchin'!"

Ok...so it's not quite the Glee thingy.
Dollhouse had its first uptick in the ratings with the episode Echoes, so arguable Dollhouse is at it's best when Adele and Topher are whacked out of their gord, Boyd plays beautiful piano, Echo listens to Rilo Kiley and Mellie is really sad.


There were only two episodes in Season 1 that showed an uptick in the ratings and they were "True Believer" and "Needs". (But you may be right regarding that such upticks do seem to tell something about the episode before, so in a way Craft & Fain knew how to bring people back in, since "Gray Hour" and "Echoes" were written by them.)
When he says "Budget" does he mean production cost or what FBC pay 20th for the show?
He seems to be mixing the figures, using FBC costs for some items and 20th costs for others.
FBC don't see any DVD or international revenue, they pay a fee for the show and that's it. But that fee is subsidised by 20th because they will make it up in DVD, overseas and eventually syndication.
So if he's considering the consolidated figure to News Corp, adding FBC and 20th together, then he needs to consider the actual production cost, not the fee FBC pays 20th.
Interesting read. But how did they figure out that House reruns on a Friday would get a 1.2 to 1.3 rating ? I know House is a popular show but if people don't even bother watching most new shows on Fridays why should a larger number watch a rerun ?
What about non-US DVD sales shouldn't that be counted too, because the money from that is going to FOX aswell, and here in the UK I think the DVD sales are doing very well, in my local ASDA it had Dollhouse at number 21 in the DVD chart, and my dad saw it at number 5 in TESCO's DVD chart.
He doesn't say he's only counting US DVD sales though I think his figures might be slightly low there (and placing 21st/5th on a sales chart doesn't tell us how many it's selling, it only tells us it's selling more than others and less than some).

But how did they figure out that House reruns on a Friday would get a 1.2 to 1.3 rating ? I know House is a popular show but if people don't even bother watching most new shows on Fridays why should a larger number watch a rerun ?

Not sure where the demo figure comes from but 'House' has shown repeats in the past and pulled 3.7 million viewers (though everyone else was also showing repeats on that particular Friday and 'House' was arguably doing slightly better in its first-run ratings then too). And if you look at the final ratings for last Friday then a new show ('The Forgotten') beats it in viewers and equals it in demo. In a rerun.

Also, like it or not, it's not really true to say no-one watches TV on a Friday - last season when 'Dollhouse' was getting 3-4 million viewers, CBS shows like 'Numb3rs' were getting around 10 million. Even with this year's lower numbers it's getting 3-4 times the viewers 'Dollhouse' is.
If they ran this week's (last night's) episode of House on this Friday, and built buzz on what happened, it would crush everything every network has on that night. Talk about a game changer- it seemed a dull episode until the very end, when there was a reveal I will not mention that was just astonishing.
I know it's a TV by the numbers article (and I should never read these b/c they just upset me) but just like 10 accountants would look at a set of books 10 different ways, the same holds true for this educated guess on profitability.

I hear those Star Wars trilogy marathons that run from time to time are very good with ratings too. Maybe the studio should just run Star Wars every. single. Friday.

Lastly, is it possible that the studio's put some value on producing something new to the viewing world? (Like an ego thing.) To be able to say they don't just run infomercials and re-runs of their best rated shows on Friday nights. It seems all those TV execs are over compensating for...something.
The way he assumes FBC can air House for "Free" just because they have the right to three airings in their contract is also a bit misleading. If they use one of their airings then that's one less airing that they can use some other time. It's still a cost to them.
True, it might mean coming up with something else to fill a slot over the summer for instance.
If Epitaph One taught us anything, it's that Maurissa and Jed can write and plot, and to expect big things from them.

Well, half the time anyway. They wrote both the very worst (Stage Fright) and very best (Epitaph One) episodes of Season 1 IMHO.

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