Saturday, December 15

Campaigning Fans: From Jericho To Journeyman

Yesterday, Amy Vernon with Remote Access let Jericho fans know that Universal HD, a cable network owned by NBC Universal, is airing Jericho for two mini-marathons in high definition, starting tonight. One person commented.

A few days ago, CBS launched a viral YouTube video that is aimed at fans more than new viewers. To date, it has received less than 15,000 views, a fraction of what Jericho fans once mustered. Even the positive comments hint at frustration.

“Thank you, CBS, for finally letting us know what the freak is freaking happening.”

Despite still being the rally cry for consumers, with Charlie McCollum, The Mercury News, recently telling Journeyman fans “good luck with that although it certainly worked with ‘Jericho,’” Jericho prospects are tired of hearing about the campaign that saved the show and not the show. Meanwhile, even diehard fans are growing weary of carrying the rally banner for more than six months with the first real word from CBS arriving last week. Too little, too late? Maybe. We’ll know in February.

All fan campaigns have limits. For evidence, take a look back at the three we turned our attention to last June: The Black Donnellys, Veronica Mars, and, of course, Jericho.

The Black Donnellys (TBD), which was pulled from the air after the first five episodes (and even one of those was unaired), was the long shot. After placing their faith in sending 670 pounds of crackers to HBO (not NBC) to pick it up as a Sopranos replacement, TBD fans had nothing left to do when HBO politely said “no” just prior to the release of TBD DVD. The fans had the passion, but not the numbers nor a full season. Abandoned.

Veronica Mars fans surged in September prior to the launch of a Veronica Mars season three DVD. Since, sales have been admirable but not earth shattering and the fan base is somewhat hindered as people focus on the holidays. If there is any spark left that will carry the concept of a movie, it might be the abundance of DVD giveaways from places like Buddy TV. Not abandoned, but coming close to a closed case study.

Jericho has also seen its share of diminished fan interest despite the best hope for a full revival after CBS acquiesced. CBS will make good on its promise to air the truncated second season in February. However, the network not only missed an opportunity to engage fans, it may also be responsible for the discourse seen throughout the post-renewal campaign. The net sum of six months suggests the network’s half-action split fans into two groups: those who believed CBS will support the show, and those who did not. Alive and well, at least through April.

All three of these campaigns provide some great insights and case studies for fans rallying behind the newest show facing cancellation — Journeyman.

Immediately following the news that NBC allowed the deadline to pass for picking up the rest of Journeyman season one, fans began a campaign to save the show, which includes pooling funds to buy and send boxes of Rice-A-Roni to Jeff Zucker, president and CEO of NBC. Why Rice-A-Roni? Journeyman takes place in San Francisco.

While I’m still being brought up to speed on the viability of the Journeyman campaign, it seems clear that consumers are increasingly prepared to pummel networks for quick cancellation of good shows. Sooner or later, networks might get the message: the old rules are dead. Nowadays, it’s better to feed shows on the bubble than let them fade quietly into the night because there is nothing quiet about vested fans and brands can only take so much.



Sweet Tea on 12/15/07, 11:22 AM said...

Thanks Rich. I go back and forth about CBS in my mind. I look at what they've done so far and I'm not impressed. Will the future be different? Maybe;maybe not.

One thing I do know;the number of fans has diminished but the core group who loves this show will continue to do everything we can can to get more viewers.

Strange, huh? Was it only a week ago that I said I had no fire left?
Aw, Rich, my fire is back. Life can be strange.

Rich on 12/15/07, 11:35 AM said...

Hey Jane,

CBS is lucky to have fans like you. As I said, Jericho is alive and well, at least through April. :)

In looking back at all the campaigns, and I hope the Journeyman folks take note, the long haul challenge is keep creating points of engagement (without overworking the community). It has always been this way with any action oriented group, online or off.

It's one of the reasons my faith in the fans of Jericho has never wavered; only my faith in networks recognizing how to market content in what seems to be a post-broadcast world.


Anonymous said...

I think one of the problems with fan campaigns is the lack of gauging the success or failure of ones effort. Are we gaining new viewers? Are they the all important Nielsen viewers? Jericho fans will not know if they have been successful until the ratings are in and a decision regarding a third season has been made. It would be helpful if we knew what result CBS are wanting. "Good ratings" isn't very helpful if you don't know what good ratings are.

However, this week has bouyed my spirits. An effort was made to reach out to fans who were no longing posting on the boards. Many of those who reported in have talked about how they were promoting Jericho. They been talking to their friends, loaning out their DVD's and buying DVD's for Christmas presents. While these fans have not been visible they have been working. CBS will either be amazed or disappointed in Jericho's performance this winter. Right now I feel they will be amazed.

terocious on 12/15/07, 3:47 PM said...

Hi Rich,

I would like to add that there is still plenty of time for CBS to step in and start really working with the fans to get the word out about Jericho. This does not have to end up a historical Shoulda Coulda Woulda on the part of the network. I think all of the fans would be very encouraging if the old dog decided to try out some new tricks.

Anonymous said...

I ran a CBS Jericho Yahoo search and there is the same level of activity as there was 6 months ago.

I truly believe the viral marketing efforts, the save camapign and ground level efforts to recruit fans will create a buzz to the show Season 2.

With Writers strike and all aligning for Jericho in Sweeps. This could be the perfect storm.

Anonymous said...

judist63 here, I also agree that CBS could still jump on the "bandwagon" to help with promoting Jericho alot more than they have so far. I know we have some time before the February premier of Jericho's season two so I think that it will be a success! As long as CBS does their part to promote and advertise we will actually see just how many fans of the show there has always been and still continues to be. Even with the holiday season, there is still alot of people visiting all of the Jericho boards across the net. Just my opinion of course!

Rich on 12/16/07, 7:40 AM said...

@ichthus That is great news. Staying in contact with people who are no longer participate or were banned from the boards is smart.

@terocious You're exactly right. CBS has an opportunity to make or break the show. And naturally, we all hope they make it. As for tracking, ... sometimes we have to shoot without having a clean shot. It's one of the reasons that I had hoped CBS would have went beyond the Web redesign. A robust site would have given them indicators as well as engaged new viewers.

@norsu Your optimism is always appreciated.

@judist63 There is no doubt there are more Jericho fans now than many fan bases ever have.

Your comments are all very appreciated; as for Jericho, you are all among those that enable to write that Jericho is alive and well.


Neptune Rising on 12/16/07, 8:01 AM said...

Hi Rich,
Mark here from the Neptune Rising Veronica Mars campaign, I wouldn't take the VM campaign off your case study just yet because I wouldn't want you to have to put it back up and explain why you were mistaken about taking it off in the first place, we still have the desire and passion so I'm putting my money on us.
I always enjoy your articles and the comments that are posted, I agree with ichthus about gauging campaign progress and I'm rooting for the Jericho campaigners to continue to change television history.
I looked into the Journeyman campaign and think that they have started off doing things right by organizing quickly and having a plan to execute.
Journeyman is another show that I really liked and I'm starting to think that the Nielsen people look at what I'm watching on television and give low ratings to them (sigh), oh well at least I've learned how to use the computer some and have made some amazing friends.
Keep up the good work!

Unknown on 12/16/07, 9:23 AM said...

Hi Rich. I'm also a member of Neptune Rising and I love reading your blog and keeping up/supporting the other campaigns. The Veronica Mars campaign is still going strong. We have a number of things we're working on at the moment and there is increased interest due to contests on blogs as well as ones that we're sponsored. While we still have a way to go, I think that keeping up with others and learning from those campaigns will help us stay motiviated and reach our desired result.

Rich on 12/16/07, 10:07 AM said...

Hey Mark and Caroline,

I didn't intend to discourage (or imply I'm writing you off; I'm just not certain if it makes a living study for this blog or just something to follow up on now and again).

I know you are among the many fans who are working hard to make sure Veronica Mars continues to live. There is no doubt it is a good show and the comics alone ensure her life.

Yes, I too think that different campaigns can learn a lot from each other. Journeyman has a lot going for it in terms of their launch, especially because the show has not been officially canceled.

Keep the faith and your fans engaged (but not overworked) and it seems to me that you will not be forgotten. :)


Anonymous said...

I'm a member of the Neptune Rising campaign, and just wanted to voice my support for the Veronica Mars campaign and all the others out there, Jericho, Journeyman, etc. I enjoy your blog, and look forward to more of your studies.

erika on 12/16/07, 9:38 PM said...

Rich, thank you so much for your continued support of Jericho and its fans. I was with some Jericho fans tonight while watching the finale of Survivor, and an actual cheer went up when CBS ran a promo for the new Jericho start date! it was very exciting.

I also appreciate you mentioning the Journeyman campaign, another show I truly adore.

Rich on 12/17/07, 6:57 AM said...

@Thera, Thank you for taking the time to comment. I'm glad to see there are more fans out there who are working for the show.

@Erika, Yes, I caught the spot as well. Much more show focused than the spot on the Web too. I hope it serves as a sign that CBS will market the show through Feb.

Ally my best,

AmyV on 12/17/07, 7:55 AM said...

The thing that's so weird about Journeyman is that in the midst of a writer's strike, they're cancelling a show that has (admittedly slowly) been growing in ratings and viewership and has quite a devoted following.

In pre-strike days, Journeyman wouldn't have been allowed to grow its viewership, as it would have been cancelled way back toward the beginning of the season. In fact, Journeyman almost got struck from my DVR season pass because it was moving so slowly. But just as I thought I was going to cancel the weekly recording, it finally hit a stride for me and I was hooked!

Remember a little show called Cheers that NBC took a chance on way back in the day? It came close to cancellation, but NBC believed in it and gave it a second season. We all know how that turned out.

The networks need to give shows even more of a chance these days because there are so many options out there. They might not catch it in the first go-round. Like cable, the networks need to have repeated airings of shows at different times of the day and let the shows develop before deciding they're canceled.

And they've got to promote them, not just decide which shows are going to be the hot ones at the beginning of the season, promote the heck out of those and leave the others out to dry (thinking about Bionic Woman, here).

Anyhow, sorry for rambling. Just my humble thoughts.

Rich on 12/17/07, 11:10 AM said...

Hey Amy,

No need to apologize. :) I thought the handling of Journeyman was odd as well. And you're right.

Networks are not giving new shows enough time, which has left viewers wonder whether they should vest themselves in any new shows. Who wants to like a show that won't live much longer than a season? Not most people.

You're assessment is spot on. Like many shows this season (including Heroes), the builds were much to slow for their own good. It does seem Journeyman has hit its stride. I cannot comment on their treatment of time travel (it's drives me batty), but it's entertaining and supported by solid acting.

My wife loves the show. She even sent a box.

You have some great observations here. Networks could learn a lot from cable. Marketing, it seems, has become their blind spot. And you have to market nowadays. It's no longer about being better than three other networks; it's about 1,000 channels with whatever programming you want when you set the DVR.

Given many cable channels are owned by the networks, you'd think they'd share their own in-house expertise.


Kim on 12/19/07, 10:20 AM said...

I am bummed that my favorite show on network television is getting the boot. Please, if you watched the show and enjoyed it, send a box of Rice-A-Roni (the SF treat, hence the Journeyman connection) to:

Jeff Zucker
Save Journeyman
NBC Universal Television
30 Rockefeller Plaza
New York, NY 10112

You can buy a box for $1.50 or so and it's cheap to mail. Let's send a message to NBC. Take away our shows and we'll find something to watch on another network.

jacks12 on 1/4/08, 12:35 PM said...

I am from the Journeyman sites and am one of many who are trying to save this show. I wanted to let you all know that we were very impressed with your efforts to save jericho and that is one of the reasons we decided to fight for Journeyman. If the fans of Jericho can do it then so could we!

So i am asking the fans here to rally together one more time and join the fight to save Journeyman. It is a great show and many believe it to be the best show of the fall season and it only got better as time went on. Journeyman is a show that put you on the edge of your seat from day one wondering what just happened and what is going to happen next?

To all who have seen this show and love it as much as we do please sign the petitions, send out boxes of rice-a-roni (the san fransico treat = journeyman is based in san fransico), also go to the save journeyman sites, do what ever you can any little thing helps. I am posting a message from the NBC message boards called "The Twelve Days of Journeyman" which gives you 12 different ways you can help to save this show!

To those of you who have not seen the show before please go to the Journeyman page at and start watching trust me you will not regret it. the show really gets good with the two parter episodes Emily and Blowback then its all uphill from there.

So please help us save this amazing show! Please!

Sweet Tea on 1/4/08, 12:55 PM said...

I'll post this on my blog later tonight for you. Thanks.

Rich on 1/4/08, 1:33 PM said...

That's great of you Jane. And thank you Jacks for taking the time to comment.

Add two boxes to you tally. My wife sent hers direct.



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