Saturday, July 14

Rating Jericho Reruns: E! Online & Buddy TV

Despite having the disadvantage of returning for a summer rerun schedule during a long holiday weekend when many people were traveling, Jericho won its July 6 time slot. This leaves everyone, including E! Online and Buddy TV wondering whether Jericho succeeded in capturing new viewers or those responsible for the cancellation protest.

Given all the curiosity that non-viewers have, wondering what they missed before the controversial cancellation; the enthusiasm of existing fans; and several creative though inconsistent fan-generated campaigns; I'm more convinced than either entertainment media outlet: the bulk of the Nielsen families watching the show were primarily new viewers and the most diehard of Rangers (those fans who could watch a rerun front-to-back and back again).

However, I'm less convinced that the recap show did much to secure new viewers as this spliced together story line was just as jarring as it was when Jericho returned from that ill-fated mid-season hiatus last time. But, the only indication we will have whether the strategy to air the recap (and not another regular show) worked will be the number of viewers who stayed on for the full episode at 10 p.m.

It seems to me that recap shows appear to work better for reality TV than serial dramas, and even then those are painful to watch. That said, perhaps a better indication of Jericho's future success will be if items like the May 29 edition of Daily Variety that is up for auction on eBay will actually sell.

With a starting bid of $2.99 and s/h cost of $5.30, I can only imagine what that might one day mean for those who purchased fan-generated items prior to the return of the show (or the six people who won Copywrite, Ink. "Covering Nuts" T-shirts after I spoke at yesterday's IABC/Las Vegas luncheon).

Will Jericho memorabilia eventually match Veronica Mars or The Black Donnelley? I suspect we really won't know until more episodes are ordered for Season 2 or CBS commits to a Jericho Season 3.

In the interim, there are several interesting online consumer marketing approaches out there and today I'll mention two. First is Remote Access's weekly Jericho guest blogger feature. Second is the art for Jerichon 2007 produced by "rubberpoutry" for Guardians of Jericho as it appeared in the Jericho Times.

Jerichon is a convention being held by fans in the least likely convention hotspot of Oakley, Kansas. While some fans were concerned about the lack of accommodations in Oakley (despite Oakley having some Jericho-like characteristics), the Hays Daily News is all abuzz about the prospect of welcoming 300-500 attendees in a somewhat off the beaten path location. Then again, you never know. No one expected thousands of wayward rockers at Woodstock either.

In sum, although CBS, E! Online, and Buddy TV are sure to be watching the summer rerun ratings (that’s what they do), it might be everything but ratings that indicate the true temperature of this famous fan base. Hot or cold may ultimately be the indicator that attracts new viewers or not. It certainly won’t be CBS marketing efforts.



Sweet Tea on 7/14/07, 12:18 PM said...

I am almost too underwhelmed with these ratings for last night.
8:00 Jericho 3.10 mill.
8:30 Jericho 2.84 mill.
9:00 Jericho 3.20 mill.
9:30 Jericho 3.31 mill.
What frustrates me most is the fact that new people continue to join the boards and I get emails from so many people who say they're new fans. It's clear to me that they must not be Nielsen families. I'm on my tangent about Nielsen again but, fortunately for you, I'll slink off to my own blog and rant.
Thanks for the article.

Rich on 7/14/07, 12:26 PM said...

Hey JS,

Don't slink; it was the recap strategy, not the show.

Thank you for adding this though; I was just about to add it myself. Ha! You beat me to the punch.


Sweet Tea on 7/14/07, 12:57 PM said...

Hey Rich,
I quit slinking after I saw this at Amazon:

Latest rankings on the DVD set have Jericho at #36 in the overall sales category (up from #48) and #78 in the "Movers and Shakers" category.

kystorms on 7/14/07, 5:03 PM said...

Hi Rich

I too was not very happy about the recap, and it was not the best presentation of the show for new fans/viewers. The way the show was presented in the recap was nothing like it is in each episode! I hope that those who did tune in will come back next week to see the consistency it always has in its presentation.
I too have many people who email me and tell me they love the show , so I agree with Jericho Saved.... these folks are not Nielsen families.
The bottom line is, this is not the battle we need to worry about, we need to concentrate on the 'rest' of the summer reruns, and forget about last nights ratings.Hang in there Jericho fans, we will rule the day if we stay the course!

Kay on 7/14/07, 6:26 PM said...

Rich, great article as always.

For DAYS, many of us on the CBS boards tried to get administrators to correct the inaccurate time/date information on network's own webpages.

I even got an email Wednesday morning from Kelly Kahl assuring me it was being taken care of.

Yet on banners across the site, you continued to see "Jericho returns July 6th".

My email to Mr. Kahl was that while we dedicated viewers are doing everything we can to promote the show, CBS needs to do its part, too.

I have this terrible sense of foreboding...

If new episodes of Jericho don't meet CBS' expectations, how simple for the network to wash their hands of us and say we didn't do our part?

rubberpoultry on 7/14/07, 8:40 PM said...

Hi Rich,

Thanks for the continuing coverage and analysis of Jericho. We can only hope that we'll succeed in securing a future for the show through all our efforts.

One minor correction... the flier I created was not for the Guardians of Jericho. They were not directly involved in the project.

I included the small ad at the bottom at the request of someone who was helping organize the effort to get the fliers printed.


Debby on 7/14/07, 8:45 PM said...

The thing I don't think people understand is CBS does want this show to be a success if they didn't it would still be cancelled. I do believe the memorabilia will sell well because we have passionate fans. I think the DVD will sell well also. I just hope that the new people who are watching will be counted. With all the new viewers coming to the web surely some of them have to Nielsen families it seems to me that it would be statistically impossible for none of them to be Nielsens.

jackie on 7/14/07, 11:36 PM said...

Thank you so much for your continued support of Jericho. I know there is still much to do if we want to see more than 7 episodes. The DVD coming out on October 2nd will be a great tool to use to raise the fan base, especially in that target demo. I know I will loan my set out to anyone that shows any interest in watching. It will also make a great Christmas present. If we just have enought time to use the DVD for promotion before the second season starts I think we should be in pretty good shape.
So, Rich, how about if we buy you a drink in Oakley for all your help? Thanks again-

Rich on 7/15/07, 7:49 AM said...

Thanks for the additions. Really, they provide a great snap shot of the some the fan dynamic.

Yes, CBS marketing seems to needs to refocus. Overall, I think the consuming marketing has been pretty solid, with some standouts like rubberpoultry. Btw, rubberpoultry, thanks for the clarification; looking at the art again, I think the ad blended in so well, I didn't see any distinction.

The good news is that remaining reruns seem to be a better use of the time slot. As JS pointed out, the DVD sales are going well, which indicates to me that the new viewers most interested will be able to catch up via the DVD. But, depending on what the producers do, might make it so people don't have to catch up to much by finding the right mix of a stand alone show and a serial.

But really, at the moment, there are many unknowns, especially Nielsen. Personally, I think the time has come that the networks begin to rethink how they think about programming measurement, which will lead to better programming. As the convergence of traditional media and digital moves forward, I can only think that television as we know it today will be more reliant on consumer cash, like movies are, than advertising dollars.

Unfortunately, I think Jericho seems to be 24-36 months early to truly benefit and CBS seems most sensitive to the Nielsen rating system. The irony is that if they attempt to play to Nielsen, then they will never get shows like Jericho to produce or turn into a major success like House.

If there is any answer here, it's for fans to continue to do what they in promoting the show and wait to see if next week survives the decision to air a racap. While the reruns could help prompt CBS to buy in deeper for season 2, ultimately it will be seven episodes that determine its fate (and DVD sales I suspect).

Because while I know CBS wants Jericho to succeed, the real questions are how much will they really do to make it succeed and do they know how. As I said, so far, it's all been the same: it's not the show, it's the strategy.

All my best,

Unknown on 7/15/07, 8:23 AM said...

I agree, Rich.

I wouldn't take the ratings too much into consideration and neither should CBS, as that was got them into a bit of trouble in the first place. I also credit the summer for the ratings low.

As a new Jericho viewer myself, I'm confident that there will be more seasons to come. Really, I think the DVD sales are the best indicator of how well the series is doing.

I do think that it is not our "job" to be marketing the series. I think that's something the networks should be responsible for since they have the budget to do so.

Unknown on 7/15/07, 8:28 AM said...

Oh but I should add.. that I wouldn't sell CBS too short. I think that's what makes this network different from NBC, as they do have a loyal demographic and viewers. The season lineups mix well together in terms of the balance of dramas, comedies and reality shows. CBS only has one reality show correct?

I think their gesture in picking up the seven seasons means a lot.

I only think so, because, as I mention to all The Black Donnellys fans, JAG, a NBC cancelled show.. after one season, was picked up by CBS and was successful for 9 more seasons. (So in that case, I believe HBO or other networks could thrive with The Black Donnellys, given the right demographic audience. That's a whole other story.)

I think CBS viewers are loyal.

PlatPat on 7/15/07, 10:15 AM said...

Dear Rich,

Once again, thank you for your interest in Jericho. You always spin us in the right direction and pump us up when we need it.

For me, I choose to believe that the numbers are low because those who watched the show during the regular season are either tuning in to new cable shows, or on vacation or watching other shows that they skipped during the regular season. And that a portion of the numbers that are tuning in are new viewers. [Personally, I can't understand why someone would pass up the chance to rewatch Jericho!?]

So when the new viewers are joined by last year's viewers together with us rabid fans, the numbers will increase for the new episodes.

I also choose to believe that if CBS is serious about being a leader stepping into 21st Century TV, they might accept slightly lower ratings IF the TiVO and DVR 3 day audience is high and the DVD sales are there. Afterall, the time shift numbers convinced them to take a second chance. Also, if Jericho remains in its present slot, I think it will capture the GhostWhisperer audience who will stick around for Numb3rs.

I know I watched GhostWhisperer and although I liked Numbers, I just didn't like Close to Home (neither did a lot of other folks apparently), so Numbers lost me too as I would go and find something else and not come back.

Let's just keep that positive energy out there!

Thanks again.

Rich on 7/15/07, 10:41 AM said...

Ruth and Palpat,

Thank you for your comments. They give me much to think about as they include many good points.

Hmmm... so I might add that under normal circumstances I agree with the idea that it is the job of the network to promote its products, but Jericho is not a normal circumstance. Jericho fans became vested stakeholders in the show on the day they sent the very first bag of nuts.

Yes, I know it sometimes appears as if I sell CBS short. Given that they used to be number one, I cannot deny that they have ample talent there.

Yet, there is something is amiss at CBS and while I'm not close enough to know, what seems to be is this: it attempts to play the ratings game and fails (most obvious result: Katie Couric tanking), attempts to duplicate perceived success (most obvious result: three CSIs and countless crime dramas); and they need some marketing help (most obvious result: initial Jericho cancellation was largely because it was mismarketed), which is also why you think they have one reality show. ;)

The have four. Maybe more.

All my best,

Anonymous said...

I agree with Rich that I is primarily new viewers..

Plus the majority of the American public take their summer vacations after July 4..

I would keep and eye on the DVD rankings as an indicator of the show's popularity..

Rich on 7/15/07, 11:56 AM said...


Spot on. DVDs will demonstrate that new viewers are watching the last season to prepare for the new season.

All my best,

Jayhawkgirl on 7/15/07, 1:47 PM said...

Thanks for the article, and your continued support of Jericho.

pberlet on 7/16/07, 11:01 AM said...

I was really confused with the recap episode, and I've seen all the episodes already. I tried to look at it like I had never seen them before, and it really left a lot to be desired. I had a couple of people watching with me who haven't seen the episodes, so I had a lot of explaining to do.

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