Monday, November 24

Cleaning Slates: CBS and The CW

"What would you do with 22,000 pounds of nuts?"

That was the opening question to what became the longest running living crisis communication and social media case study ever covered here. Nuts were the statement of choice for tens of thousands of fans who protested the cancellation of the television series Jericho and went on to win a truncated second season as a result. In the end, they didn't send 22,000 pounds. They send 20 tons, along with just as much mail, postcards, e-mails, etc.

The answer sounds simpler than it was: CBS sent them to the zoo; they sent out an announcement too. Done. Last week, CBS asked another question. What do you do with several million messages on the fan site of a cancelled show?

The answer sounds simpler than it is: CBS deleted them; no announcement needed. Done.

The decision, which was an expected side effect to some recent Website upgrades at CBS as much as the desire by many to reset the community boards, was an eventual reality. It also reinforces the smart decisions made by the fans who migrated to outside forums like Jericho Rally Point and Jericho Free Radio long ago (no tears were shed there for the loss). It also serves as a fine reminder for anyone fantasizing about immortality on the Web. In a blink, all those little bits of data — jokes, jabs, cheers, jeers, and tears — can be erased.

Jericho fans did receive some good news. Starting Nov. 30, Jericho reruns will return to television at 7 p.m. on The CW as part of a clean-slate strategy on Sunday night. According to CW Chief Operating Officer John Maatta, "Surviving Suburbia," "Valentine," and "Easy Money" weren't working. None of the shows was averaging more than 835,000 viewers. Suddenly, the 6 million viewers that Jericho managed to retain despite one of the worst restarts in the history of cancelled series reinstatement look pretty good.

Unfortunately, it won't be enough, not long term. Now that Jericho can be watched everywhere on the Web, from Hulu and iTunes to YouTube and UHD (and The CW), coordinating a campaign or even quantifying those fragments are futile. It just doesn't makes sense to ask the the most loyal fan to watch every episode wherever it happens to pop up. No one can yell forever.

"This is the way the world ends. Not with a bang but a whimper." — T.S. Eliot

Of course, that's not to say the book is closed on Jericho. If Jericho has any chance to score a movie, because a second resurrection seems impossibly unlikely despite the existence of the original set, only DVD sales will do (until the day that networks end their denial about paid download counts or enough time passes to start fresh). Otherwise, Jericho fans are simply best served by enjoying each other's company. The show might have brought them together, but only camaraderie will keep them together.

image hat tip: C., Radio Free Jericho



zohner on 11/24/08, 10:20 AM said...

Great article, Rich. I have been waiting for CBS to finally kill what little of Jericho they could be associated with. Hopefully fans can still get a movie like Firefly's brown coats did.

Rich on 11/24/08, 10:31 AM said...

Hey Jeremiah!

Yeah, it was destined to happen sooner or later.

If there is anyone is thinking about making Jericho into a movie, I suspect they will also be watching ticket sales when the The Road comes out, even though I think it would lead to a very misleading conclusion. They are very different ideas despite that CBS tried to market Jericho that way.

The best thing fan can do is hang tight with each other and reach out to the people who made it possible, much like Veronica Mars have done.


Schumi on 11/24/08, 12:02 PM said...

As usual, a great read Rich. Not surprising that the CBS board went away - was going to happen sooner or later, as I'm sure once they moved off of using the Prospero/Mingza software for their other boards - Jericho only remained as long as any lingering software contract played out. And since CW has its own message boards - I'm sure CBS saw no reason to continue with theirs.

CW's average audience demographic is much younger and tech savvy than CBS's. I hope the fans can tailor their outreach accordingly. Jericho needs more people tuning in and telling their family and friends to tune in than anything else right now. It screams for serious exploitation of social networking tools - in addition to traditional word of mouth.

As always - I enjoy taking a peek at what pearls of wisdom you have to offer. Never fail to find something interesting in your blog.

Anonymous said...

Great read Rich.

I've put a link and summary in our Jericho article archive.

Can't wait to see Jericho on TV again!


kystorms on 11/24/08, 2:32 PM said...

Hi Rich

Good points all around, and as you said we all expected this, none the less the loss of all the threads and basically parts of peoples lives were thrown away like so much trash and that is something that while I as an adult can understand on a Corporate level, I as a person was hurt by.
That being said, the one thing that we all got from the whole experience of being on the boards was as you said, the camaraderie. And that is the most awesome gift of all. We will watch Jericho ( I will anyway, even though I own the DVDs) and I am reaching out for new fans, and I know each current fan is doing the same. Miracles can and do happen, right? Thank you for the post on Jericho, it is always special to read what we all accomplished together.

terocious on 11/24/08, 4:37 PM said...

The Nuts got their attention but I believe the true triumph and eventual downfall of Jericho had to do with how we networked online. I think what we ultimately failed to do was to diversify our portfolio of interest's so we could reach more people through avenues which did not begin with a J and end with an O. Still, what we managed to pull off was beautiful.

As for CBS and internet buzz not reflecting real world interest, I think it is just that kind of separation and compartmentalization which will be the death of network television.

Here’s a suggestion for a new motto for CBS: “We’ll be taking you for granted all the way to our grave”.

Neptune Rising on 11/24/08, 9:32 PM said...

Hi everyone,
This is Mark from the Veronica Mars campaign and I think that it's great that at least the powers that be thought enough that Jericho might pull in more ratings for them airing repeats so it's promising in that regard.
I haven't noticed sale prices on the dvd's though in quite awhile which seems like that would hurt efforts to get a movie made.
We at Neptune Rising feel your pain concerning the forum because we lost the boards at the CW within two months of cancellation and just recently we have started abandoning the free forum we had moved to at that point because of constant problems it was having and have relocated to a new forum.
Though it wasn't something we decided to do lightly for reasons you have mentioned we realize that it's our people that make our campaign/community and we'll still have that no matter where we decided to go.
Keep the faith and I'll still be rooting for Jericho to keep making history.

Anonymous said...

Rich, what you may not know is that one resourceful Jericho fan, anticipating a takedown, saved many of the posts from a specific thread on the CBS board. The resulting PDF file, were I to print it out, would be nine hundred pages long.


maybei on 11/25/08, 5:56 AM said...

Great article Rich! TY :)

And one thing is certian - Jericho will live on at Radio Free Jericho. We are keeping the faith and in the meantime, enjoying each others company.

The friendships made across all of the boards is something I don't think any of us could have anticipated when we started this journey.

Stop by and see us - we've left the light on for ya :)

Anonymous said...

This enterprising fan anticipating the closure of the CBS board way back organized a group of other enterprising fans from We made pdfs of almost all of the threads that were important to us. I have no idea how many thousands of pages it represents, but our history has been preserved.


Anonymous said...

As usual, good plugs for two websites that are essentially dead to being with, but,hey,that's been the case for months now.
The people directly related to Jericho said months ago that they'd be notified before the CBS message boards came down. So, are we willing to say than that they lied or with held that information?
If you click on an old link from the message boards itself, you get a different page now. A page that in the past, has been used when work was being done.
Quite honestly, I fully expect these boards to return, but much to the chagrin of small few.
But hey, keep pluggin those two sites! Nothing will bring whats left of this community together faster than that.

erika on 11/25/08, 1:50 PM said...

What a nice article. It is a very interesting place the Rangers find themselves in at this moment. Those of us who have been asking people to talk about the show and buy the DVDs thank you for your agreement. Grassroots got us this far, I see no reason why it shouldn't continue.

Will there ever be any new Jericho? Beats me, but I have made friends that I would have never made if it wasn't for this experience, and ultimately, that is what means the most to me. Personally, I was glad to see the CBS boards go, and I feel like we can get on with enjoying what we have, and spreading the love a la Veronica Mars fans, Firefly fans, and everyone else out there who has found a community through a television show we adore.

Thanks for all your wise words over the months.

NHAQUEES on 11/25/08, 4:25 PM said...

Great article Rich, as usual! I can't honestly say I'm sad to see the CBS board go, it was a pain to navigate to begin with. I shall stick with JRP and RFJ and enjoy Jericho on The CW for as long as they let us.
The fight is not over for us, Jericho Rangers around the world will still hold out hope for the future of the show, and the cast and crew.

Anonymous said...

Jericho is alive and well and definitely living large at places other than JL and RFJ - puleeeze!

If that's all you can name, you're truly not the caliber of blogger you think you are.

Rich on 11/25/08, 6:29 PM said...

Thanks everyone! :)

My apologies for not responding to everyone specifically as I'm trying to clear my desk and enjoy some time with the family.

For now, I will mention that is very good thinking C., that you always make we want another post B, and I always keep that in mind Maybei. (It's not for not wanting too. Many changes around here. :) But it's good too see many friends drop by.

As for Anon, well, I think you have me mistaken for someone else. I never claimed to be "any" caliber of blogger. But if you must know, I picked those two sites because they have been there since the beginning. And while I know there are several newer places that I don't pretend to know the politics behind, if you want to be better than a troll, use your real name and simply post the links to those sites instead. That sure would be more useful than illustrating why many bloggers stopped writing about the show.

Read the last line again, over and over, and feel better about yourself. :)

The show might have brought them together, but only camaraderie will keep them together.

All my best,

P.S. Hat tip to Norsu, who contacted me. I should have included him in the post for doing so.

Anonymous said...

Rich, as usual, you're a class act even when others are not. The anonymous "sour grapes" posters apparently haven't yet accepted that it's about the show and the community surrounding it, not whoever gets the credit or publicity. And that's a genuine shame, because such an attitude invariably drives the fandom apart.

We're being given something of a clean slate when "Jericho" returns on the CW (on November 30, two years almost to the day since the CBS message board debuted). Let's enjoy the show together, rather than squabbling over which site is best or which segment of the fandom is most worthy of acclaim.


Jericho247 on 11/29/08, 7:45 PM said...

Rich, you rock! Thanks for all the support you've shown us. I am proud to have been a part of history. I am truly proud to be a Jericho Ranger.

On a final note, I know this show has nothing to do with Jericho, CBS, CW or the fandom itself, but a quote on a tombstone shown at the end of the Sons Of Anarchy season finale really hit home with me:

"We fight because we believe"

I fought for the show because I believed in it. I will never forget that, as long as I live.


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