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March 22 2004

How Does Your Favorite Show Stack Up? Angel mentioned as having one of the biggest gains of a returning series.

Once again this points out the idiocy of Jordan Levin.

"Let's see, Angel is one of only three of our shows which has gained in viewers while all of the others have fallen dramatically, it has wide critical praise, it has a devoted fan base that we can entice to watch our new shows...let's cancel it!"

And this man is paid millions to be this stupid.
Jordan Levin needs to be visited by the Ghost of TV Future.
And then it would be funny if the Ghost of TV Future was Lorne.
electricspacegirl, let's hope it's Lorne in his kick-ass-and-take-names phase....and maybe accompanied by Harmony.
Well if Jordon Levin had a "Scrooge" visitation, there could be the Ghost of TV Past, Present, and Future.

Of all the Angel characters, who would be the best for which? Lorn would have to be in there somewhere, it would just be so funny.

[ edited by electricspacegirl on 2004-03-23 05:54 ]
I would like to know the research techniques used for this study...i would like to see the numbers myself because I cannot believe that AtS would show such positive numbers and promise (overall) and still get the "stake". Furthermore, one could infer from this article that Angel is one of the most stable and promissing programs on network television (based on the data provided). Truley mind boggling!
Hi, a little insight into the bizarro business of TV. It's not all about ratings guys. And believe me there's a lot more to ratings than they will ever release to us. Neilsen's also include a breakdown of everything the viewing household buys, owns, does, and is. If you are a Neilsen family, have a kid, play soccer, are in debt, have a dog and a hamster - the Neilsen's know about it and provide this information to advertisers who also know which stores your family shops at. Etc. This data is broken down and analyzed by advertisers who in turn decide to rate each show.

Neilsen's aren't the only things they use though. They also go by what the channel's overall content is. Because we now have so many channels to choose from - Lifetime - The Women's Network, Spike TV- Men. Fox- in your face, hip, Food TV=Food shows, TLC=reality shows. Many advertisers select networks to place their ads based on the overall theme of the shows.

WB only makes money off of advertisers. They pay Fox a license fee to host Angel on their network. Then advertisers pay WB money to place ads next to Angel. WB promises the advertisers to bring a certain percentage of and type of viewers to see their ads. The advertisers hire firms like Neilsen to see how many viewers potentially will come and what products those viewers buy. Neilsen's survey a cross-section of families or viewers in a select number of areas. It's an inexact science, becoming even more inexact by the minute - since in today's world, most of us have to pay for our television reception, and those of us with money, can pay to make sure advertisments don't interrupt our shows (Replay used to be able to do this, not sure if Tivo still does, the advertising association sued them for it a while back). Also we now have channels like HBO and Showtime where we can pay to just watch the shows we want - via in demand on DTV.
Then there's DVD's, where you can skip watching the show on TV altogether and just wait for the commercial free DVD set to come out. (I know lots of people online who do this btw.) But Jordan Levin, WB and the networks are still playing by the old tv is free and everyone has ads model. They still get their money from ads and their parent companies get money from all the cable companies that license to distribute their channels to the viewers. WB does not get money from DVDs, does not get money from subscribers. Their source, right now, at any rate is advertisers.

So they come up with a marketing plan :
1. What are the current marketing trends? What is hot?
The OC - has people talking. Reality shows. Sitcoms are cheap.
Young-hip family shows sell according to our market research
2. What is the theme of our network, do we have one?
Well, what are our shows? Charmed, Seventh Heaven, Gilmore Girls, Grounded for Life, Smallville, Everwood - all family oriented. What's in development? Lost in Space (family oriented sci-fi adventure), Dark Shadows (family oriented - sort of like the OC meets Dracula). Works. What doesn't fit? Angel the Series - that's not family, it's workplace. It's also in it's fifth season and contracts are up for renengotiation, especially the stars which means Fox, knowing Fox, will up it's licensing fee.

So they meet. They look at the numbers. They look at what the advertisers want. And they decide Angel is the best one to cut. It gives them room for a couple of cheaper shows. And makes their hip-young family oriented theme more solid.

Only one problem with this schematic - 85% of their viewers are paying for television reception. Some of us, myself, included, are beginning to wonder why we are paying if all the good content is getting cancelled. Makes more sense to invest in DVDs.
Also, many viewers have nifty little devices called Tivo, which means they don't pick networks based on themes, they don't even pick networks, they program the Tivo to pick shows they want to watch, preferably without commericials (not sure that's possible, I'm too broke to own a Tivo). What makes it even more complicated is how decentralized TV is as a business. The people who produce the DVDs are separate from the ones who actually produce the show and they are separate from the ones who make the programming decisions, none of these guys really interact, they are all separate departments. So it is possible to have Fox production company produce a show, license it to WB because Fox TV sees it as too expensive, meanwhile license rights to Fox DVD productions to produce the DVD and rights to F/X to show re-runs. Each group has a different source of income. WB channel has the license fee from cable, advertising dollars which are much more than annual DVD sales - if your content (shows) are rated high you can get an 3 min ad for 3.8 million, and of course affliates who get ad space or may license as a co-distributor. Fox productions gets their money via the license to WB. Fox DVD's gets theirs from dVD sales. So you see - from WB's perspective - ad dollars count the most. But what happens if the majority of viewers decide to cancel their cable subscriptions or find ways not to watch the ads...then what? Not that this is likely to happen. But I am beginning to wonder if the networks need to change their model.
thanks s'kat! the w.b suck and i am heartbroken!
"2. What is the theme of our network, do we have one? Well, what are our shows? Charmed, Seventh Heaven, Gilmore Girls, Grounded for Life, Smallville, Everwood - all family oriented."

Charmed is family oriented????

And yes, TiVo and Replay BOTH can still fast-forward commercials...

And ad revenue is very important for the WB because the WB (and its parent company Viacom) rely on advertising revenue for 95% of its operating revenue...

[ edited by Simpleba on 2004-03-23 08:37 ]

[ edited by Simpleba on 2004-03-23 08:39 ]

[ edited by Simpleba on 2004-03-23 08:41 ]
Hey s'kat posts. Cool. Nice to see you here.

Regarding the ratings, this comment by Stacia at the An Angel's Soul Spoiler Board was interesting:

"The funniest thing was when I was arguing with the WB publicity guy Keith at the Angel Rally, I gave him stats on how much better Angel was doing verses last year and in that timeslot and he insisted I was wrong. The WB is so totally in denial, despite all of those glowing press releases they love to put out raving about Angel's ratings."
Yeah I heard that conversationa at the rally. But I also noticed the guy was in total denial, period. He also was there to grease us up a bit (giving pictures and posters.) but also to spin some BS. And the girl kept asking him "Who should we talk to? At the WB? At FOX?" and he just kept beating around the bush. "You know who." - "No we don't. Who?" - "You know." So don't put too much stock in what he was saying. Every single site, magazine and output has shown Angel's ratings to be up from last year.

I still think he lost drawing straws with his coworkers and that's why he was the one to be out there.

Interesting post by s'kat by the way. Pretty much sums it up. It also shows how limited their vision is. And Dark Shadows going to be 'teen-oriented'?? Argh! Not another 'Dawson's Creek' show. I hate them! All of them. Even Smallville is just 'Dawson's Creek with Superpowers' most of the time. And now this.....blurgh, I hope it sinks fast.

Because I am bitter and unforgiving.
Well I've stopped watching the new season of Smallville on E4 in the UK. Enough is enough. It's fizzling out big style. I watch Enterprise cause it's improved somewhat but what is there to grip my attention once Angel is gone? Not a sausage.
I stopped watching Smallville too. It just seemed like every episode was the same. Lana in trouble, Clark saves her. I just got bored. I was only interested in it for the mythos anyway, and not seeing a lot of that lately.
Simon, electricspacegirl...I hear you...the first three seasons of Smallville were great, the writing was almost on par with ME work...The latest season has seen a serious decline in script quality...I wonder what happened?
Wait, this is the 4th season of Smallville already? I'm really lost. I thought it was only the third.
The end of Angel pretty much signals the end of me watching network television, 'cause you know Wonderfalls will get the axe. Say "goodbye" to my Dish Network subscription. I only watched Smallville because it was before Angel - that and I liked to make fun of how it spent most of its time ripping off either Buffy Season One or The X-Files. During Smallville's first season, I made the joke that the next two season were going to be "The Red Kryptonite Years." I wasn't far off.
Ocular I'm with you - kind of a relief actually not to have to worry about my crappy broadcast reception messing up my videotaping of the one series I actually watch. Now the only things I watch are DVD's from Netflix...
Because I am bitter and unforgiving.

Sing it EdDantes! Seems like we should have a blues song a la the Firefly theme for the whole Jossverse fandom. Coulda sworn I saw a filk on it recently, but I could be making that up out of my fevered imagination.

I gave up on Smallville last season. This season started off with a bang and immediately went to a whimper by the 2nd ep. If I didn't need the cable connection for my computer, it would be gone and my tv would become an elaborate paperweight.

As for the ratings confusion, just want to add to the confusion by mentioning that although Angel has improved over last season, its ratings still don't compare with the WB's other top-rated shows. Seventh Heaven, Smallville, Gilmore Girls and Charmed, all consistently out-perform Angel even though they've suffered up to double-digit losses in ratings. If Angel's ratings were comparable to Charmed for instance, it would've been more of a horse-race for those limited slots on the WB's fall schedule. But no...the bean counters have finally triumphed. If they'd had their way last year, Angel wouldn't have gotten a 5th season. We just got lucky that other forces conspired to leave the WB with little else to put on the air for the 2003 fall season.

Is the WB in denial? On crack? They can spin it both ways. Earlier in the season, they were happily pimping Angel's gains, especially in the most coveted demographics. Now because it was in a new time slot "with more significant lead-in" Smallville, they can write it off as a scheduling improvement, ie., they only got better numbers because of Smallville. Sigh.

Frankly, I'd rather look at entrails, but I wouldn't be surprised if that's how WB execs really figure out ratings anyway.
s'kat - Thanks for posting all that. I just want to ad a couple of things though, first Nielsens do not rate by show they actually rate by the hour and station. Because affiliates have ultimate control over what is shown just because it's 9pm Wed night on a WB affiliate does not mean you are watching Angel it means your are watching that affiliate at that time - this is especially true in the reported overnights. So if Angel s pre-empted the show will get the credit for what is played but it will not be accurate cause it may be local programming such as a local sporting event. Then when Angel is shown those who watch it are not counted toward the show but counted toward the hour it is on more over at an affiliate level not on a national level. One other thing to take into concideration the WB will sell the rights to another networks affilates stations to show Angel in places that do not have a WB affiliate (example Columbus, OH does not have a WB affiliate but you can see new episodes of Angel on the UPN station in Columbus at 10pm on Thursday night). Those numbers are not calculated into the show either. So does anyone know what the real numbers are - nope.

As for TIVO - from B&C on 2/5/04 - Nielsen Media Research and digital-video-recorder company TiVo Inc. have inked an agreement to collect and distribute information on DVR usage, the companies said. The companies will create an "opt-in" panel of TiVo users to cull data on TV viewing patterns and trends. The new service is aimed at advertisers and television executives seeking information on the effects of DVR usage.
Fair's fair. To address the impact of TiVo and personal video recorders, Nielsen Media Research will credit networks for most DVR viewership. Overnight ratings will include only shows watched live. Viewing network sitcoms and dramas played back on DVRs will count in national ratings beginning July 2005. And only shows screened within a week of broadcast will qualify. "By bypassing DVR homes, the sample has not been representative of the U.S. population," says MTV Networks research chief Betsy Frank. A bigger challenge is how to treat viewers who fast-forward shows. One network research executive says the agency expects only to count the actual viewing time. Skip through the ads in Friends, and Nielsen will record 23 minutes or so, not 30. The wave of the future is its new A/P meters (for "active/passive"), which will read codes embedded in the programming. They are key because Nielsen has traditionally relied on a home's channel changes, which mean nothing if they're watching the show on a DVR. Nielsen's aggressive stance is a boon to researchers. (It also recently inked a deal with TiVo to get data from some TiVo-enabled homes.) In the next 18 months, Nielsen will expand its local people meter service and the national sample and tweak its weighting system. And adding PVR measurement

From B&C on 3/8/04 to show we are not the only ones upset by the fuzzy math used by Nielsen a snippit from the article - Maybe Nielsen ought to call its new ratings device the "people eater." Nielsen Media Research's local people meters being tested in New York City are spooking some broadcasters, which are losing viewers in a big way. "They should be shot," says one New York City general manager about the ratings giant. He complains that Nielsen, is "shoving this down our throats and charging us twice as much." In Gotham, ratings for four of the six network-owned stations were down in February, according to the new Nielsen system that has been in place since last fall. Ratings for individual shows during the test phase have shown striking differences. Let's put an asterisk here: The numbers are based on household panel samples that aren't yet complete, so Nielsen may do some fine-tuning. The numbers are compared to the Nielsen Station Index, the measurement method being phased out. In a nutshell, the current Nielsen Station Index uses a combination of diaries and an old-style people meter that records that the set is in use. The new local people meter eliminates the diary and requires viewers to identify themselves so Nielsen knows a show is being watched by a woman 25-54 or a man 18-24. That way, Nielsen can instantly calculate demographics. In Boston, general managers say, the numbers have stabilized but are still down across the board compared with rankings prior to the meters' installation. "There are still some issues of missing viewers," says Paul La Camera, president and general manager of a affiliate in Boston. Since the data is better, many broadcasters believe the local people meters will spell the end of sweeps. Buyers see an upside, too. With daily ratings, they will press for ratings guaranteesóin writingólike they get from the networks. "What we're hoping to get to is a real-time accountability with local people meters," says Finkel Greene. That would mean getting make-goods immediately "rather than after the fact." And no one would mourn an end to sweeps. "It's really not smart to put all the best programming in three months of the year," says Andy Donchin, senior vice president and director of national broadcast, Carat. With a daily flow of ratings out of the major markets, where half the spot dollars are spent, affiliates and O&Os will require attractive programming year round. "That will force the programmers to think beyond the sweeps."

[ edited by RavenU on 2004-03-23 21:08 ]
"what is there to grip my attention once Angel is gone? Not a sausage."

I hear ya. I look around the TV landscape and it's a wasteland. Did you see that "America's Top Model" was actually the highest increase for a show?? Unbelievable.

"I stopped watching Smallville too. It just seemed like every episode was the same. Lana in trouble, Clark saves her. I just got bored."

Yeah I've only seen eps of this season and the repetitive nature of it is numbing. If I have to see one more end scene with Clark and Lana exchanging vague, supposedly longing looks and vaguer dialogue I'm going to scream. Anyone else notice most of these people are not exactly setting the world on fire with the acting?? Seriously, Clark's facical expression when his mom lost her baby and his dad blamed him for it was about the same as when someone asked him what time it was. And Lana has two settings: cute smile and worried frown.

Sorry, sorry, don't mean to turn this into Smallville bashing. It's just that the contrast with the Buffy and Angel cast is gargantuan....

"I only watched Smallville because it was before Angel - that and I liked to make fun of how it spent most of its time ripping off either Buffy Season One or The X-Files. During Smallville's first season, I made the joke that the next two season were going to be "The Red Kryptonite Years." I wasn't far off."

I call you brother now. Uh, or sister. Lots of ripping off there yeah. And the red kryptonite, yeeees, the devastating effect it has on turns him into: Jerk-Clark! Who rides motorcycles and leather jackets and is disrespectful to his parents!

Sorry, sorry, I'll stop, really......

"Sing it EdDantes! Seems like we should have a blues song a la the Firefly theme for the whole Jossverse fandom."

Ah you missed my take on 'Rest in peace' on an older thread: " "We die-ed, several weeks ago-oo. Joss, please make us fee-eel, like it isn't soo-o...." Phlebotin added to that: "....first Buffy, now Angel, the WB really blooo-ooows......let Levin fry in greeee-aaase."

I still plan to sing it outside of Joss' house. As soon as I know where that is....

"although Angel has improved over last season, its ratings still don't compare with the WB's other top-rated shows. Seventh Heaven, Smallville, Gilmore Girls and Charmed, all consistently out-perform Angel"

And instead of going on a 'Why Charmed Sucks' rant, I'll simply point out it is time to leave this planet now. So if you'll all excuse me, I have to go stand on my roof and stick out my thumb to hitch a ride with the first UFO that comes by. And take my Buffy, Angel and Firefly DVDs...
Although on occasion I find "Smallville" mildly entertaining (and vastly superior to "Charmed"), I agree that in terms of quality on all fronts (writing, acting, directing, etc.) the contrast between BTVS/Angel and "Smallville" is "gargantuan".

That being said, just watching the insanely beautiful Tom Welling, is sometimes enough for me to forget that the boy can't act. I can't help it, that boy sure is pretty.
Thanks RavenU for the clarification on the ratings game. Every time I try to explain them, I confuse myself. Partly because what many people don't realize is Neilsen doesn't just do TV ratings. They also do market research and data gathering for just about every product out there. Advertisers can subscribe or purchase a more in-depth version of viewers buying habits, which ads are making a difference: ie. print, tv, radio or billboard, coupon? And which products do better for which ad. Just thinking about all of it can head-ache inducing.

I know that the more-in-depth info, which we cannot get any information on unless we do it for a living and it is highly confidential - includes a share or rating system for how well certain ads do in certain spots, how many viewers see them, which shows or magazines sell the most, etc. Not sure what you would call it.

Regarding Ed's understandably shocked response to hear Charmed is family-oriented. Yep - it contains three sisters, has happy endings, and has even a baby - in network lingo, that equals family. (It annoys me too, since I stopped watching Charmed two or three years ago, I find it unwatchable. I also find Seventh Heaven unwatchable. Depressing.)

The most annoying bit about all of this, is I feel as if the smart cult fandom is once again being ignored or pushed aside.
There are no shows in development right now that even appeal.
The ones that have been shown, such as Wonderfalls, don't appear to have a chance. Others which I find lack-lustre and predictable, seem to continue forever. Depressing. It almost seems to be a bloody miracle that we got shows like BTVS and ATS to begin with.

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