Wednesday, March 19

Waiting Games: Jericho Season 3?

With no official word from CBS, fans of the cancelled, resuscitated, and now on the bubble show, Jericho, are taking no chances. For several weeks, they have been writing letters and hoisting up banners of the “Don’t Tread On Me” flag that appears in one of the episodes of the second season. No more nuts yet.

Many critics have warmed to the show, but maintain it’s unlikely to see a third season. Some are even campaigning for faith in the rating system and against renewal, despite saying they like it.

The latter criticism came after Patrick Keane, vice president and chief marketing officer for CBS Interactive, speaking Monday at MediaPost's OMMA Global conference in Hollywood, used Jericho as an example of how online audiences can have a positive impact on a show, especially because online viewership doesn’t cannibalize the broadcast audience.

The online video audience for one episode of Jericho boosted the show's TV ratings by almost a full point: from 4.2 to 5.1.

Even for those who have never seen the show, the significance is in that it represents the transition for television. As cross-convergence seems eminent, Jericho provides a glimpse into just how forward-thinking networks can be, if they want to be.

With two different episodes — one that offers closure and another that provides a cliffhanger — CBS can justify a Jericho renewal as easily as a cancellation. Enough so that I wouldn’t want to hazard a guess. See for yourself…

Five Reasons To Keep Jericho

• Fans are engaged, watching episodes and embedded ads over and over.
• The online audience continues to grow, with ample consumer evangelists.
• Even with less-than-stellar ratings, the rating are better than many other shows.
• It’s a leading program among the network’s growing online inventory.
• There were notable flaws in engaging the fan base that saved the show while CBS continues to get up to speed on how to best engage online fans. There is an opportunity to do it right with a third season.

Five Reasons To Let Jericho Go

• The ratings are just not there; no matter how flawed the system.
• The fan base did not meet Nina Tassler’s condition of more live viewers.
• The fans were never able to develop solidarity or sustained buzz.
• The network met its commitment to deliver a wrap-up with seven episodes.
• There are too many financial limitations to give the show the budget it needs.

Of course, there is also the possibility that network executives at CBS have secretly acquired a taste for nuts. But that is purely speculative.

The real questions CBS might ask is what kind of network does it want to be. Is there an opportunity to take the lead position as an online content provider? Is Jericho the right show to help usher in a new era? And can it preserve this fan base to help lift up new original content in the future?

Everything tells me that the network is split on the decision. Rumors suggest that CBS may be answering these questions as early as today. The clock is ticking and the worst thing the network could do is keep its decision a cliffhanger. Maybe part of the answer lies in non-traditional thinking: Jericho has helped boost other CBS and CW programs online and provided more brand recognition for the network than broadcast ever did on its own.



kystorms on 3/19/08, 12:55 PM said...

This was a great article Rich, and you hit every point right on! I do so hope and have faith in CBS to renew, but as you said.... seems to be a toss up as of now which way they will go! thank you for always being a huge supporter of Jericho and its fans, its been a supreme pleasure to have you helping us along.

auntvonna on 3/19/08, 1:08 PM said...

Great thoughts Rich! I hope CBS is bold enough to step outside of the box here and start bridging the gap between the old way (their way and Nielsens way) and the way people today ACTUALLY view their programming (DVR, Online, downloads, etc). I think that Jericho will perhaps survive anyway somewhere else, but it would be nice for CBS to pick up the ball and run with it in the right direction!

SaveJake on 3/19/08, 1:48 PM said...

I think we did find a much larger viewing audience. I know I have in several states. Not one of them are Nielsen households. Also when combining all the numbers, I think CBS will see they have a hit show and part of the problem is with them holding a decision about renewal. How many times have we watched a new show only to find out it has been cancelled. We have all these new viewers and they are not happy when we can not provide an answer on Season 3.
Let's hope CBS finally ventures out into the new world of providing viewers the entertainment they truly want.

Sweet Tea on 3/19/08, 2:54 PM said...

Thank, Rich. I see both sides here but I think CBS should take the plunge and renew. I think they should also be ashamed of how they leave us and the cast/crew hanging. Those people need jobs. They can't sit around and wait for this decision for long.
Give Jericho to another network because I'm sick of CBS.

maybei on 3/19/08, 4:02 PM said...

Great article and of course I agree with all the reasons to keep Jericho.

I am however a bit annoyed with CBS putting the full responsibility of getting new viewers on the fans. I truly feel they could have and should have done more to help us. They had it in their power to PIMP this show major big time and they did not. Shame on You CBS!

mpbnice on 3/19/08, 5:04 PM said...

CBS could have used the free advertising that we got for them last year and put Jericho on last fall in place of one their duds. Instead they waited until February and then put it on at 10:00 following Big Brother. Brother!

Anonymous said...

The fans may not have achieved solidarity or buzz in the way everyone would have wished, but let me pose two questions:

1. Is this not the most passionate fan base for any show on the CBS network?

2. Is this not the most talked-about show on the CBS network?

Why would any network cancel a show in that position?

Which is better, six or seven million rabid viewers for "Jericho," or ten million viewers for a rerun of NCIS that creates absolutely no excitement?

Does CBS know that many "Jericho" viewers park themselves in chat rooms on Tuesday nights and discuss everything -- including the commercials?

Nielsen ratings be damned. I think CBS has ample reasons to renew the show. If the above isn't enough, let them count the numbers on iTunes, xBox, Amazon and other sites again.

The damn show is a hit.

Rosalind Van Landingham on 3/19/08, 5:28 PM said...

Interesting article, with many good points. However, I disagree with one of your reasons to let Jericho go:

"The fans were never able to develop solidarity or sustained buzz."

Jericho is just about the most talked about show on television - now or ever. And the fans are as united as such a large, diverse group can be with very little new content from CBS to feed it. Whether CBS renews Jericho or sells it to another network, the fan base is a very strong asset to go with it.

"T.V. Barnum" on 3/19/08, 5:37 PM said...

I don't envy CBS either way.

Unknown on 3/19/08, 6:48 PM said...

Rich is a great writer and right on every mark..

I personally feel that the proliferation of the fan sites, has not helped in terms of rallying the fans..

Personally I made the decision to stay on the CBS/Jericho site and avoid the fansites for the most part..

Nothing wrong with the sites at all, but I felt I should show loyalty and gratitude to CBS and the show but staying primarily on the network site for the show..

Maybe its wrong, but I think if there were less or no fansites, it would have been easier to rally the fans for the fight for a third season now.

Rich on 3/19/08, 7:14 PM said...

Hey Shaun,

Always great to see you. Yep, you were wrong. It was that very thinking that divided the fan base. Too bad.


Debby on 3/19/08, 7:33 PM said...

Rich I think what CBS needs to realize is they have a passionate audience that is not going anywhere else they sell Jericho to another channel and then they will follow the show. The big shows have a fickle audience that follows the latest fad and can be easy come easy go. In my mind the bird in the hand (Jericho) is worth the bird in the bush the unknown show.

Schumi on 3/19/08, 9:18 PM said...

Rich, I absolutely love popping over here and garnering a bit of wisdom, sometimes about Jericho - sometimes about something else equally as interesting.

I agree with you completely about sitting on a single site, and I don't believe this was ever CBS's intention for the Jericho fans: otherwise why create something like the widget or provide fans with a feature to add clips to their sites and blogs that they just posted about last week.

Sure they want eyes on the CBS site - with online advertising, they make money from page views - but they also want NEW VIEWERS. And you don't get new viewers by sitting around waiting them to find you.

I've always believed that CBS wants the Jericho fans to go out there - wherever, and use the fan sites, forums, pages on social media sites, blogs, whatever to build interest and buzz in Jericho, and sure, eventually funnel traffic to the CBS Jericho site. You need to "go out there" to find new fans - those on CBS have already discovered the show. And there's no reason why on the internet - a world without walls - fans can't participate on CBS AND on several other Jericho-related and non-Jericho-related sites.

I thing CBS sincerely would like to make a successful go at new media - they're just moving at a turtle's pace. I just hope they don't over look the gem they have in the Jericho fanbase that is already very new media savvy - something that could really help a network with a significantly older viewership and therefore somewhat less educated in utilization of the alternate platforms for viewing and use of social media and the internet as a communications tool beyond email.

Regardless the fate of Jericho Rich, I look forward to looking in on your blog on a regular basis. Its one of the many good things I've discovered as a result of Jericho.


Rich on 3/19/08, 10:54 PM said...

Thank you all for the comments that lend so well to the post. It really demonstrates the continued humble nature, unwavering spirit, and the amazing diversity of the fans.

I'd like to underscore FANS. For me, at least, after writing about your efforts on and off for about a year, that is what Jericho has always been about.

The fan base came up with a great campaign and saved a good show. I hope it happens again, because it seems to me that the reasons to keep it far outweigh the reason to let it go.

So while I won't guess, there are two other things that might interest you today as you work to save ensure a third season.

1. Jericho was among the shows touted as part of CBS' new push to offer more Video On Demand content, which effectively opens up yet another place people can fall in love with Jericho besides the CBS site. The story broke today on CNN Money. I think that is significant. Some shows were not included.

2. Although many people write that there seems to be less fans today than last year, I think the operate word is "seems." Today, for example, I've seen just as much interest in this topic as I did last year. There are a lot of fans who are obviously interested, certainly more than any current measure can count.

I suspect CBS knows this, but I cannot be certain. What I can do though is continue to draw attention to what you have done, which is playing a key role in ushering in one of the most significant shifts in television history. No other fan base lead that.

Passive viewers are now active consumers.

You watch what you want, when you want, where you want, and how you want. It's not all that different than social media 101. You cannot succeed in social media by sitting on a single site because the very definition is the opposite of that.

It's obvious to me that CBS knows this. It's obvious to me that they also know that in the very near future, it will be the networks responsibility to count the fans and not the fans responsibility to be counted.

But in the mean time, please make sure you are! :) Good night and good luck.

All my best,

Unknown on 3/19/08, 11:00 PM said...

There's a great fan base and there have been more viewers! Hopefully this will be enough to get us a season three.

Anonymous said...

Rich said:

"It was that very thinking that divided the fan base. Too bad."

I tend to agree with Shaun, here. I feel that is was the fan site divisions among the fans that divided the fan base.

Rich on 3/20/08, 12:06 AM said...

Absolutely right Amber. They are good people.

Having spent time with almost every fan group, I was always amazed that just below some simple misunderstandings because we are all human, everyone was all the same page, almost.

With that in mind, let's stay on the same page in the comments. It's really about what the fans can do now as opposed to the some old topics that do not belong here. I'd hate to dust up some emails. ;)


Anonymous said...

Rich, Your articles are always well thought out, informative and the best. Thank you once again for all that you do and have done to promote social networking and insight to the fans of Jericho. Your added tidbit (cnn money)brought a smile too. Thank you g (starfire101)

kystorms on 3/20/08, 6:39 AM said...

I would love to hear more about what was said on CNN money!?? I cant believe we were mentioned, and that makes me so happy. I am very grateful to all the writers, such as Rich who keep Jericho in the public eye!

Briarpatch on 3/20/08, 8:18 AM said...

Thanks for this article, Rich. You always help me to focus on the issues at hand.

How in the world can additional fan sites be a bad thing. That's silly.

Charlene in Mississippi

zohner on 3/20/08, 10:00 AM said...

Rich, as always, you seem to be right on the money. Thanks for the insight.

Rich on 3/20/08, 10:29 AM said...

Highlights from CNN Money story...

Verizon expanded its video-on-demand (VOD) by adding programs from CBS, Discovery Channel, Smithsonian Channel, Ovation TV.

The CBS programming, specifically included: FiOS TV customers can now enjoy some of their favorite programming from CBS, including "Big Brother 9," "Numb3rs," "CSI," "CSI Miami," "CSI New York," "Jericho," "NCIS" and "Survivor: Micronesia - Fans vs. Favorites."

FiOS TV systems in Richmond and Virginia Beach, Va.; Tampa, Fla.; Fort Wayne, Ind.; Pittsburgh, Pa.; Burlington, Mass.; and Rhode Island. It is coming soon to all remaining FiOS TV markets.

"With an ever-growing list of VOD titles in both standard and high definition, FiOS TV continues to offer the largest collection of video-on- demand content in the industry, giving FiOS TV viewers a vast number of choices for their video entertainment," said Terry Denson, vice president - FiOS TV content and programming. "The best part of all is that with video-on- demand, you can watch what you want whenever it fits your schedule."

Anonymous said...

Hey Shaun,

Always great to see you. Yep, you were wrong. It was that very thinking that divided the fan base. Too bad.

Wow Rich,

Thats a pretty ignorant response don't ya think?

Rich on 3/20/08, 2:13 PM said...


No at all. I am always happy to see Shaun. And, he was mistaken on this point. It's also the very point that raised the most disagreement across all fan groups. That's all there is too it. That's not ignorant. That's a fact.

You know, I often disagree with people, including those I consider my closest friends. Disagreement on an issue does not warrant diatribe, which means the shouting down of contrary opinion. That would be ignorant.

But again, this isn't a post about Shaun. So if you have something to lend to the discussion on the renewal of Jericho by CBS, I'm happy to hear it.

All my best,

Jericho247 on 3/20/08, 10:24 PM said...

I agree with many of the things various people have mentioned here. I do hope that this whole thing somehow has CBS wanting to step outside of the box, and move into today's world, not the past of yesterday's world.

Of course CBS could've and should've done more, and had no right to place ALL of the responsibility on our shoulders.

Whatever happens, I am proud to be a Jericho Ranger. No one can and/or ever will take that away from me.

Rich on 3/20/08, 10:33 PM said...


That is absolutely a true statement. You and many other Rangers have every right to be proud.


Rich on 3/21/08, 12:15 PM said...


CBS has officially pulled the plug on Jericho. — Hollywood Reporter

Anonymous said...

Well I remember hearing Carol and Jon Steinberg requesting the fans to stay on the CBS website. Carol said it and Jon said it on Shauns show.

He was honoring what they said.

Would hardly call shaun ignorant. Anyone that was involved in the campaign heard the same thing. Some followed what they said to the letter, others drifted away.

Rich you came along late in the game and probably did not know that.

I expected better of you Rich, sad.


Rich on 3/22/08, 1:23 AM said...


I did not call Shaun ignorant. Please read more carefully. I said someone who would resort to diatribe over a topic disagreement and make it personal would be ignorant.

Regardless where the tactic originated, it was wrong and caused many problems for the fans. I'll be writing it again next week too, making it even more clear. Feel free to comment about it then.

Anyway, given the show was just cancelled, it seems to me to make this post about Shaun is disingenuous to the fans, especially after sourcing the location where the comment originated to match a similar comment.


Anonymous said...

Rich! Now you exactly why fans could not get it together. If you don't agree with Shaun, they tell you to get lost. Ignore them. Most fans aren't like that!

Anonymous said...

there are plenty of reasons why the fandom split and plenty of blame to go around, mostly to cbs who did a great divide and conquer effort.

leaving that divisive chatroom up for as long as they did was a masterful stroke.

that chatroom did more to divide the fandom than any single person could have.

Helena MT

Enchanted Etymologist on 6/2/08, 7:09 PM said...

Definetly HOPE Jericho gets ack on! I'm feelin' sort of bad right now 'cause i'm one of those internet viewers! Sorry!


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