Turn your TV off

Chadwick Matlin argues the best way to save an endangered TV show is to not watch it on TV.

The author seems to suffer from ignorance of statistics, and assumes (or knows without divulging the evidence) that the networks both look at and heavily weigh viewership numbers from DVR, Hulu, iTunes, and their own streaming sites: given what is I assume much smaller revenues from these as compared to broadcast TV, I take a show-me attitude. Nevertheless the central point is unassailable: watching a show on TV, if you don’t have a Neilsen box, tells the networks nothing; watching it online might do some good, and can’t do any worse, as far as telling the suits what you want to see.

(Of course, if you simply must see it on your TV as soon as it’s aired, you can always do so and then, later, crank up Hulu, start the playback, and go do something else.)

Joss Whedon and Eliza Dushku both seem to be more optimistic in the past day or two about the future of “Dollhouse”, after having talked to people at Fox recently. Call me an incorrigible optimist, but I’m going to stick my neck out and predict it’ll be renewed. In fact I’m so confident I’m willing to wager up to eight cents on it. Besides what Whedon and Dushku are saying, there’s the simple fact that the last time Fox cancelled a Whedon show it ended up being a major embarrassment when loads of people who didn’t watch the original broadcast saw it in syndication and on DVD, bought the DVDs, bought tickets to the movie, and generally made it a perennial favorite in the “great shows cancelled too early” polls. (Or at least Fox should be embarrassed.) With the Friday night timeslot and the series’ slow start Dollhouse’s Neilsen ratings have not been impressive, but the DVR numbers have been very good and I’m guessing the iTunes and Hulu stats have been too. And with the series kicking into high gear in the recent episodes, I think the ingredients are all there for a Firefly-like cult hit. So what are the suits at Fox thinking? “Hmm, do I want to be forever known as the guy who repeated the Firefly fiasco?”

Okay, so I’m probably so far out of touch with network TV reality I’d need a megawatt laser to say hello. Anyway, I’m keeping fingers crossed.


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