Tuesday, November 16, 2010

How Soon is “Too Soon” for Determining New Show Potential?

Innovative Thinking for the New TV Season

by Henry Schafer

Let’s face it, the networks often have a quick finger for pulling the trigger on new shows – well before viewers have a chance to sample or even form an educated opinion about these shows. Quick cancellations could result from the networks pre-determined business decisions (and thus, out of the viewers’ control), or because of initially low Nielsen ratings that are not necessarily related to the quality of the show. Low ratings can often be misleading due to ineffective scheduling and/or promotional positioning as well as debilitating competitive situations.

All I am saying is: give viewers a chance. Viewers need time to get better acquainted with new shows so that programmers can have a better sense of their potential based on real world viewing conditions. Initial ratings and early measures of positive and negative attitudes don’t necessarily point in the right direction. The real issues in the early stages of the new season focus on the viewers’ willingness or commitment to watch more episodes in the weeks ahead. Now, that’s a really good sign of potential!

And, of course, this potential can vary by type of show and clearly by audience demographics. Let’s take a brief look at the new prime time shows that are making an impression with respect to viewer likeability (Q Scores) and/or commitment to watching future episodes (Emotional Bonding).

  • "Blue Bloods" on CBS appears to be the strongest new show of the season with above average Q Scores and strong viewing commitment among younger and older adults, underscoring its ability to resurrect Friday nights for CBS or even anchor another night down the road.
  • The Defenders”, “Hawaii Five-O” and “Mike & Molly”, also on CBS, evidence potential for success with strong commitment to watch additional episodes, despite having average Q Scores overall. For shows like these, the willingness to watch additional episodes can eventually result in stronger likeability and even stronger emotional bonding.
  • Some new shows like “Nikita” on The CW, generate low ratings but show strong potential for growth (albeit in a narrowly defined network environment). “Nikita” happens to resonate with the under 50 audience, developing into a cost-effective dream for advertisers.
  • Detroit 1-8-7” on ABC (while it may not be generating strong Nielsen ratings in the early rounds of the new season) has developed above average emotional bonding among the 35+ audience. This is a good sign for potential improvement on its current Q Score profile and future audience growth – possibly in a different time period.
  • Outsourced” and “The Event” on NBC seem to be striking a chord with the 50+ audience, possibly indicating a surprise to that network. Again, this could be a good thing as this audience can be as vibrant an advertising target as younger viewers. After all, 50+ is the new 30+ as many marketers are indicating!

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