Is there something wrong with the way CN gathers data?

Discussion in 'Transformers Animated Discussion' started by Flashdisk, May 19, 2009.

  1. Flashdisk

    Flashdisk Well-Known Member

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    Newsarama.com : DVD, DVRs and Ratings: Green & Guggenheim on TV's Changing Reality



    Green & Guggenheim: DVD, DVRs and Murky Ratings
    By Vaneta Rogers
    posted: 19 May 2009 06:08 am ET

    Of all the technological advances of the information age, one of the biggest changes to how Americans enjoy entertainment has come in television.

    "Network television is in the throes of a major evolution, or devolution, or whatever you want to call it. But it's a crisis, really," said Marc Guggenheim, co-creator of the recently canceled ABC show Eli Stone and showrunner on next year's Flash Forward, also from ABC. "And the crisis rises from the fact that people have choices in how they consume their product."

    Not only have channel choices increased exponentially with cable, but new technologies have ushered in new ways to watch. From iTunes and Amazon to DVRs and DVDs, the world of television has changed from one where most people in America tuned in to I Love Lucy every Monday night to one where more than 30 percent of TV viewers watch their shows later on DVR.

    As we continue our talk with Guggenheim and Michael Green (who also just had his show, Kings, canceled by NBC), we look at how the television industry is adjusting to new technologies, questioning whether the changes have put quality, scripted programming at an unfair disadvantage. [See part one and part two of our discussion here.]

    Green and Guggenheim were working on the script for the Green Lantern movie with co-writer Greg Berlanti, and the two of them noticed they had a lot in common. Not only are both comic book writers – Green on Superman/Batman for DC Comics; Guggenheim on Resurrection for Oni Press and Amazing Spider-Man for Marvel Comics – but they will see both of their canceled TV shows finish this summer on Saturday nights.

    As the two spoke to Newsarama about how reality television seems to be growing in popularity while fictional shows like Pushing Daisies and Life on Mars struggle to make it on network TV, the discussion turned toward how the current rating system doesn't favor serial television. For example, the DVD life for reality television is almost non-existent while shows like Lost or 24 have done well on DVD.

    "With serialized shows, there are a lot of people who are waiting for the DVD box set to come out," Guggenheim said. "Imagine if comic book companies didn't pay attention to how many trades they were publishing, but rather only paid attention to month-to-month sales," Guggenheim said. "In fact, I'll go you one better. Not even month-to-month sales. They're only paying attention to how Amazing Spider-Man sold on the Wednesday it came out as opposed to the following Thursday, Friday or Saturday, right? So that's the problem. You have a lot of people who are either 'waiting for the trade' or picking up their comic book on Thursday, Friday or Saturday."

    ENLARGE IMAGE
    What Guggenheim means is that television shows are judged for renewal long before it's time for them to be released on DVD. While DVR and internet numbers eventually roll in, the potential for DVD and iTunes sales is rarely a part of the equation.

    "The networks are starting to pay attention to that kind of data, but they're sort of in between two models of thinking," Green explained. "Here's an example of that. Literally the day Kings was sent off to die on Saturday nights, we were No. 1 on iTunes. We had achieved No. 1 status on iTunes. So we were all happy, thinking this was quite an achievement, and then we get a call that says, 'sorry, we're scuttling you.' And I asked, does that iTunes number matter? And they said, 'no.'

    "It's still on the margins for them. It's an indicator," Green said. "So if [the show is] something they quite like and it's doing well [in ratings], then they'll recognize added success. But it won't turn around what they already perceive as a failure. It's also a numbers thing because iTunes doesn't represent the millions that they feel they need at this point."

    The information that networks receive about all this new technology is also new. Nielsen didn't start including DVR numbers in its data until late 2005. Now, its ratings information comes in three versions: live, which is the traditional way of tuning in to TV; live plus 24 hours, counting how many people watch shows on DVR within a day of recording them; and live plus seven days, which includes those households who watch within one week of recording the show.

    "But there's another factor here, which is perception," Guggenheim pointed out. "Nielsen is the company that has the monopoly, and I use that in the most pejorative sense, has a monopoly on reporting ratings. Nielsen comes out with preliminary ratings the very next morning. They're called overnights for that reason. That's the first data point that you get. And that is purely live viewing on the first night – no DVRs, no iTunes, no internet. Then over the course of the new two to three weeks, additional data comes in, and it includes internet and it includes DVRs. But here's the problem. Those overnights have set the tone. Those overnights have created the perception."

    "It's already been reported on every news outlet by that point," Green added.

    "I always analogize it to, it's like if you open the sports page to see how your baseball team did and only saw how they did up until the third inning, and you made a judgment about their success or failure in that case, based on three innings instead of nine innings," Guggenheim said.

    "The illustration I saw of how they're learning to think in new terms but haven't quite achieved it yet is, I had a series of emails from NBC before Kings aired saying, whatever happens on premier night, don't worry about it. We're only worried about what happens once we get the DVR numbers and internet numbers. Do not freak out the next morning," Green said.

    "And I thought that was very encouraging, because they were very realistic about it. But then, when the next morning numbers came and they were disappointing, everyone freaked out. It was exactly what we were told not to do. And it could be that they were more disappointing than they wanted, but it was almost as if to say, don't worry about it... as long as it's good news," Green said. "And it may have been a disappointment on the fault of the show or of their own creation or both, but the effect was the same. The next morning, it was an avalanche of disappointment and retreats and bad news based on those overnights."

    It may seem like an antiquated system, but fans of serial television who cry foul because of DVR numbers should keep in mind that broadcast television is driven, for the most part, by advertising. The sponsors of television shows don't know if DVR viewers even see their advertising, and even if they do, the target date has been lost after certain amount of time. For example, if a retailer wants to promote that weekend's big sale, or a movie studio wants to advertise their new film, a DVR viewer who sees their advertising two weeks later does them no good.

    Viewers are more likely to tune in live to reality shows like American Idol or Dancing with the Stars, meaning advertisers can reach a targeted audience on a targeted date. Character-based, serial television, on the other hand, can be watched at a later date, or even watched many months later on DVD.

    Yet fans of serial, fictional television can also find hope in the official news today that Dollhouse, the Fox show by Joss Whedon, another TV/comic book writer, has been renewed despite dismal ratings. Although the show had been assumed canceled by media followers who only consider ratings, the network took into consideration the huge bump the show got from DVR and internet numbers. And it's said that Fox also considered the fact that Dollhouse is a sci-fi show, a genre that tends to bring in strong DVD and iTunes sales.

    This news is encouraging to writers like Guggenheim and Green who prefer working on serial shows, although their 2009 efforts didn't seem to benefit from that kind of thinking. For Green, his disappointment over having Kings dropped by the network is tempered by the enjoyment he got from making it.

    "I take a lot of comfort in talking to people who really enjoyed and appreciated the show," Green said of his canceled show. "And I take a lot of comfort in how fun it was to do it. The more I work, the more I realize the process of doing something and seeing writers/actors/directors take an idea you had and turn it into something sparkly and wonderful, is what I like. So I focus on that, and the rest gets easy."

    After Green's comment, Guggenheim joked that he had his own way of dealing with cancelation: "I self-medicate with drink."

    But after the laughter, the writer said that while new technology may be confusing the ratings system right now, it actually offers solace to people like him and Green.

    "It's the one advantage that writer/creators like me and Michael have doing television now than in days of yore," he said. "Kings will come out on DVD, Eli comes out on DVD, so those shows will exist for perpetuity. People can find them and check them out and they'll have a life beyond their broadcast."
     
  2. Flashdisk

    Flashdisk Well-Known Member

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    How is CN rating animated?
     
  3. Flashdisk

    Flashdisk Well-Known Member

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    Here is another related article. Do you have atypical viewing habits?

    Newsarama.com : 'Battlestar Galactica' Franchise Steams Ahead


    'Battlestar Galactica' Franchise Steams Ahead
    By Chris Talbott, Associated Press

    NEW YORK (AP) - Need proof the television ratings system is dead, a victim of the TiVo, the ubiquitous satellite dish and schizophrenic viewing habits? Take a look at what's happening with "Battlestar Galactica."

    If the traditional ratings system is used to measure its success, well, the series is scraping bottom like a viper throwing sparks on a hot landing.

    Yet the show's producers are moving forward with two post-"Galactica" projects that would never have seen the light of a cathode tube had ratings been the only factor in the decisions.

    Jamie Bamber, the British actor who plays Lee "Apollo" Adama in the series, has a much better way to gauge ratings. Turns out, as the ratings plummet, the show's popularity continues to skyrocket as it reaches the end of its five-year run early in 2009.

    "When the numbers were high I would get stopped in the street maybe once a week," Bamber said. "Now that the viewing figures are lower on the TV, everywhere I go someone will come up to me and say what a huge fan they are. That just tells me that people watch the show in a more modern way and that it has reached its sort of critical mass."

    "Galactica" wrapped shooting in July and the final 10 episodes will begin airing in January. But the franchise won't stop there.

    Producers recently announced end-of-the-summer production of a two-hour standalone "Galactica" prequel that will air in 2009 after the series finale. And they've also shot a pilot for a new series called "Caprica," which has yet to be picked up by the network but seems destined to air.

    These things never used to happen. There never would've been a "Rhoda" had "The Mary Tyler Moore Show" tanked. "Fish" would've been fried had it not been for the popularity of "Barney Miller."

    "Galactica's" numbers — to put it politely — have begun to stink. The latest Nielsen ratings seem to indicate the show's viewers are as hard to find as the fleet's mythical destination of Earth. The series averaged 2.8 million viewers an episode during Season 1. During the most recent run of 10 episodes, the show averaged 2.2 million viewers, a slight dip overall but up from Seasons 2 and 3. The series lost some of that steam by the midseason finale, falling to just 1.8 million viewers.

    Co-executive producer Michael Angeli thinks the numbers are irrelevant, however. He believes most "Galactica" fans have atypical viewing habits and take advantage of new technology to watch the show whenever they want.

    "I think we were one of the first ones," Angeli said. "TiVo had just sort of taken off. This was four or five seasons ago, and because we were on Friday nights most people, most fans don't watch it (on first run). They TiVo it and watch it a zillion times."

    Others rent or buy the DVDs after the season is over and watch in long marathons. To take advantage of this group, producers will be releasing the two-hour movie on DVD shortly after it appears on SciFi.

    The movie is a prequel that gives some insight into the machinations of the cylons before they unleashed the nuclear holocaust that wiped out all but 50,000 human inhabitants of the 12 colonies. "Galactica" star Edward James Olmos will direct and Dean Stockwell (Cylon No. 1), Aaron Douglas (Chief Tyrol) and Michael Trucco (Sam Anders) — all "skinjobs," cylons who appear to be human — will participate.

    While the movie is a lock to air, the fate of "Caprica" remains to be decided. The pilot has been shot and screened, and there's a trailer up on YouTube. Angeli is helping with early scripts in case the series is picked up and said the show is an almost complete departure from "Galactica."

    "In fact, I don't think we ever go into space," he said.

    "Caprica" takes place 51 years before the events of "Galactica." It stars Esai Morales and Eric Stoltz as the heads of rival families who clash over the creation of artificial intelligence, which will eventually lead to the cylons.

    Besides the robots and the location, the only real connection between "Galactica" and "Caprica" will be Joseph Adama, the character played by Morales. While Joseph Adama — father and grandfather to the characters played by Olmos and Bamber — never appears in "Galactica," his work as a lawyer provides a moral compass in a significant storyline and his name is often evoked.

    Like "Galactica," which took on war, terrorism, torture, religion and questions of morality, the storyline in "Caprica" will have many things to say about our society.

    "It's really about big business, the machinations and the subterfuge that go on inside of it when you have something that is groundbreaking and could change the nature of life and the future," Angeli said. "In this case, they're developing artificial intelligence."

    Executive producer Ronald D. Moore described the show to reporters at the Television Critics Association meeting in Beverly Hills. While he was talking about the fictional colony Caprica, he could just as easily have been talking about today's America.

    "It's about a vibrant society. It's really at the height of its power and the height of its decadence at the same time," Moore said. "So it's really a thriving, vibrant culture that's going to come apart as we watch, but it's sort of the roller coaster. It's thrilling at the top when you see how far down you've got to go."
     
  4. realCliffjumper

    realCliffjumper Well-Known Member

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    Interesting...I was going to mention "Dollhouse" but they hit the nail on the head there. But Fox has had the most experience with canceling good shows...Family Guy, Futurama, Firefly...to name a few.

    I donno what CN is rating Animated, but since the Hasbro Channel is coming, I don't think that the fate of Animated has anything to do with the ratings. Though illegal downloads don't count either, I think. They also may not consider international airings weeks after the original episode. Jus' sayin'.
     
  5. Fairlady_Z

    Fairlady_Z Official Voice of Flareup

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    Industries are like dinosaur sometimes, the change is happening all around them, but instead of embracing the new techonology which really isn't so new anymore they wait until they absolutely have to change.

    I really don't know what the story with TFA's rating are but one of the few good things that can help keep cartoons afloat that prime times shows don't have is toy sales. So even if you don't have a Neilson box your voice can be heard to help influence a show, at least a little bit.

    Good news for Dollhouse though. I'm still hoping Middleman can be saved with DVD sales.
     
  6. Honey-Flash

    Honey-Flash Yes, I'm a girl.

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    Intresting read, but I think Animated's ending has more to do with what Hasbro wants than CN's ratings.

    I hear ya, I was kinda' pissed that they canceled it. They should have canned that stupid "Secret Life" show. I'm sorry, I just hate crappy teen dramas.
     
  7. SPLIT LIP

    SPLIT LIP Dry built

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    It was mostly just CN being CN.
     
  8. MetroBoy

    MetroBoy Keeper of the Cheese

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    The American ratings system is just a freaking dinosaur in need of some good old fashoned extinction.

    DVRs, iTunes, Hulu, and the internet in general have totally changed the way we watch TV. I for one watch TV on my schedual now, not the networks. My wife and I were discussing it the other day, and she mentioned that if we can browse the internet through our Wii by downloading an additional app for a $1.90, then why can't we get our Cable through our console as well? I didn't have an answer for her on that one...
     

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