Friday, February 29, 2008

Blackjack Fairgrounds: Blog Carnival

Thanks to Amy JerichoMonster is the proud host of this week's Blog Carnival. Enjoy.

The wonderful, talented Kricka gives us a delightful recap for Episode 3. She always writes about something I managed to miss. Thanks for your hard work Kricka.

Len Neighbors has done an excellent commentary on Episode 3, "Jennings and Rall." Not only is it interesting but I laughed out loud quite a few times. Be sure to read it.

Michael Hinman's post today at SyFyPortal addresses CBS. He discusses the mistakes CBS has made with Jericho. Excellent writing. Thanks Michael.

MaryAnn Johnson at flick filosopher discusses Jennings and Rall as well as Iraq and the occupation of Middle America. Great job.

Anna has written another superb recap about Jennings and Rall. I like the slant she puts on it. Read what she has to say about "Goetz (the Evil Overlord of Ravenwood). Great job Anna. Thank you.

Our favorite, Amy,delivers her outstanding recap here. Hey Amy, no more sneak peeks. You have to wait with the the rest of us for new episodes. Who snickered?

Like what you've seen? Submit your article for next
week's carnival. The carnival is accepting
submissions now and the deadline is 1 p.m. Friday.

The carnival submission form.

Past posts and future hosts can be found on the blog
carnival index page.

If you'd like to host a future
edition, e-mail Amy Vernon.

Les Moonves: Julie Chen

If we could convince Julie Chen to watch Jericho we might never have to worry about ratings ever again.

"However poorly you may think the CBS crime dramas perform in reruns, these reruns best Big Brother by 50%. Big Brother fared worse in the 8pm slot than it did in the 9pm slot but that makes sense. At 8pm it has to compete with AI for the whole hour, at 9pm it doesn’t. Wednesday night BB only averaged 5.56 million vs. 6.74 million at 9pm on Tuesday. CBS doesn’t seem in a hurry to change this and has accepted that BB has lousy ratings, but doesn’t seem to care."

"Never mind the attaching stuff to your equipment, never mind the time out of your life with basically no compensation. But the amount of time to take part in this extremely flawed ratings system is tremendous. I’ve always wondered who, exactly, is a Nielsen family and why their interests seem so different from mine."

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Jericho Ratings Improve

Jericho Ratings for Feb. 26:

"At 10:00 PM, JERICHO was second in households (4.3/07), viewers (6.90m), adults 25-54 (2.9/07) and adults 18-49 (2.2/06). Compared to last week, JERICHO was up +13% in households (from 3.8/06), +16% in adults 25-54 (from 2.5/06), +10% in adults 18-49 (from 2.0/05) and added +1.04m viewers (from 5.86m, +18%)."

Would you allow Nielsen to invade your privacy so they can learn everything about you? I'm not talking about just TV either. Keep reading.

"The central message here is that Nielsen, which would just love to know what TV shows you watch, which websites you visit, which books you read, which video games you play, and which brand of bread you eat, is running into iron walls as it tries to combine all of its audience analytics systems. Homes that are part of Nielsen’s television audience panel don’t want the company snooping in on its Internet browsing. Suddenly, privacy matters!

But that’s not keeping Nielsen from moving ahead with A2/M2, or “Anytime Anywhere Media Measurement,” which aims to measure the media a person is consuming anywhere, anytime. If that sounds a little Big Brother circa 2083, it is. It’s also nearly as impossible as it sounds.

Despite increasing competition, clients, like ad agencies and TV networks, have faith in Nielsen. But only because Nielsen is the biggest game in town, and not because its methodology and initiatives make any sense."

"The intimate media habits of the fickle public won't be a secret anymore. Nielsen announced yesterday that it will use paid human "shadows" to monitor plugged-in Americans during every waking moment, with information updated as often as every 10 seconds.

The television-ratings company calls the $3.5 million project both "landmark" and "groundbreaking," and has enlisted the help of academics and marketing mavens alike to mine the information. No bit of data is considered trivial."

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

How Not To Promote Jericho

Time is running short for Jericho and we Rangers have promoted to the best of our abilities. Most of us have anyway. In the time we have left I wanted to mention some items that are not effective when we want to promote Jericho. If you are a new fan I hope you will benefit as well. Please avoid these:

1. Don't anger other fandoms (they might be a Nielsen family and would watch Jericho) by spamming their boards and making multiple posts on the same subject.

2. Don't attack other fandoms at HeyNielsen and expect them to watch Jericho in return.

3. Please don't attack Jericho's own fans. We have all worked hard and we saved Jericho as a group. If you disagree with someone at least be respectful when posting your difference of opinion.

4. Please don't bash other Jericho fan sites and characters. This is distorted thinking. The characters are not real people but the actor or actress who plays them is. You don't have to like every character and you can say that in a nice way. Bashing insults the entire Jericho cast and crew as well as your fellow fans.

5. Don't undermine promotional efforts in your own fandom just because you didn't think of an idea first.

6. Don't take credit for promotional efforts of other fandoms when you weren't responsible for them.

7. Please write legible, sensible posts. Here's an excellent blog post about "Writing In English."

8. The best way to lose potential viewers is to be confrontational, hostile, and condemn everything they say just because they disagree. Don't attack others so our ratings go even lower.

9. Don't tell people they have to do something. Asking nicely gets excellent results.

10. Don't tell people what to think because we are all different.

This post is not directed to anyone in particular. This is not the only fandom where these things occur. Let's all think before we post and remember we want people to watch Jericho.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Monster Fandom Interview: Morgan

"Fandom is a term used to refer to a subculture composed of fans characterized by a feeling of sympathy and camaraderie with others who share a common interest. A fandom can grow up centered around any area of human interest or activity."

I interviewed Morgan about Jericho some time ago then decided it would be fun to interview her about fandoms in general. Thank you, Morgan, for this most insightful interview. You are an asset to any fandom and I'm happy you love Jericho.


1. What was the first fandom you were part of and why did you join?

I think the first fandom I joined was the "Uncle Walt Club." I was around 8 years old, nd the local CBS affiliate had a local kids' show called "Uncle Walt" every weekday afternoon. They aired "Astro Boy" on that show, and I fell in love with a drawing on celluloid. Uncle Walt had a "fan club," and I begged my Mom to give me the $1 it cost to join. Of course, the show eventually ended, but I was a faithful Uncle Walt Fan until I was 11 or so. Eventually, I moved on to other fandoms, like the Beatles, the Monkees and STAR TREK, but Astro Boy was my first "fandom" experience. Just as an FYI, Astro Boy is an old Japanese animation series, and is still popular in Japan today.

2. How many fandoms have you been part of in total?

Oh, goodness, let me think. As far as organized fandoms, probably around 15 to 20. Unorganized? -- many more. There have been numerous "official fan clubs" I joined, like those for various music groups, actors and TV shows. I was very active in STAR TREK fandom and STAR WARS fandom, but less so FIREFLY fandom (The Browncoats do rock, though). I also belonged to the "Robin of Sherwood" (Michael Praed) fan club at one time. I also belonged to fandoms for SF & Fantasy authors; specifically those of Anne McCaffrey ("The Dragonriders of Pern") and Mercedes Lackey ("The Heralds of Valdemar" books). I was a member of the Dracula Fan Club (yes, there really is a fan club for Dracula!) for several years, as well. I did get briefly involved with the original BATTLESTAR GALACTICA fandom, but that didn't last very long. I was also a big fan of Japanese Anime, and heavily involved with ELFQUEST fandom. I actually opened a branch of that club, complete with meetings and a quarterly newsletter.Oh, and I got involved with this JERICHO fandom, though I don't know if you've heard of it. ::grins::

3. Which was most enjoyable and why?

That's hard to say because each of them offered unique opportunities for learning new things and having new experiences. I can't really compare them to each other, but if I had to pick a favorite, I guess it would be a tie between STAR TREK and JERICHO. They are both very similar, in that we waged a campaign to bring the shows back. TREK fans had it a bit harder because of the time period, not necessarily the obstacles. And, if I had to give a reason why both JERICHO and TREK fans succeeded it was loyalty to one another and to the cause. Both groups were fighting against very high odds, but no one gave up, no one surrendered. Many TREK fans are still loyal to the original show, and that was a fight we fought over 40 years ago. So, the things I learned in that battle helped me fight for JERICHO. Both have been fun and agonizing, but both have been worth every moment of involvement.

4. How difficult was it to wage a campaign without the Internet?

Better ask how much easier it is to wage a campaign WITH the Internet! You young whipper-snappers don't know how easy you have it! Why, when we were fighting for TREK, we had to use pencils, pens and paper -- and dial phones! No push buttons for us. No, sir! Electric typewriters (if you were lucky your parents would let you go to their office and use their IBM Selectric!) and hand-cranked mimeograph machines were about the most advanced equipment we had. Phone calls had to be made one at a time, because we didn't even have 3-way calling!
I joke now, but that's about the way it was. Long distance calls were rare and expensive. TREK "cells" would designate one person to call the regional leaders to get news updates. The U.S. Postal Service was our best friend, and sometimes the Postal carrier cringed to see the amount of mail we sent and received. It took us days to do what JERICHO fans do in seconds, and months to win our victory. Primitive as it was, we succeeded in making our own TV history. We paved the way for the future in more ways than one. We may be old, now, but we're still working for shows like JERICHO.

5. How do you believe the Internet has impacted fan campaigns?

With near instant communication at our fingertips, how can it not impact any kind of campaign. Whether it's political or fannish, the Internet has opened doors we could only imagine and dream of in the 60s. Fiber-optic phone lines have improved the use of the ordinary telephone. Cell phone technology. All of that could have made one hell of an impact on the TREK campaign. But, like anything, fandom, too, had to walk before it could run, so I wouldn't trade my experiences in TREK fandom, fighting for a 3rd season of STAR TREK. From those humble beginnings, we have a lot of tecnology born of a TV show. STAR TREK (as other futuristic shows) opened our eyes and let us dream of a future without fear of nuclear holocaust. We learned to dream, and when we finished dreaming, we turned our thoughts to "making it so." And, so, yes, the Internet has impacted the world, not just fandom. It has opened doors we didn't even know existed at one time. It has made possible today, what we only dreamed of in the 60s.

6. What is the most important thing being in fandoms has taught you?

It's taught me to not be afraid to dream, and to believe in dreams coming true. I've learned some bitter lessons in fandom, especially when one person's agenda doesn't take into consideration the feelings, goals and needs of others. I've seen wonderful things accomplished in fandom -- like clubs raising money to save a child's life, or a town survive disaster. I've seen kindness and generosity above and beyond the call of anything remotely resembling duty. Fandom has taught me tolerance, respect and faith. It's taught me not to be afraid to reach out to people, even though I might get burned. It's taught me trust, and it's taught me caution. It's taught me how to not only talk the talk, but walk the walk, and to be content with who and what I am. It's not always fun to learn these lessons, but I've learned them over the past 40+ years, and I will take these lessons with me to the grave. Above all, it's taught me to try and find the good, even in the midst of negativity, and to believe in that good no matter how hard it gets.

7. Do you believe networks are too quick to cancel shows? Why or why not?

Only when it's a show I like! No, seriously. I think networks need to find new ways of counting their numbers. They need to catch up with technology and learn how to keep their finger on the pulse of their viewing audience. They need to remember there are many different demographics out here, and to try and offer something for us all. There needs to be ways of measuring reaction to shows without Nielsen box; and start thinking outside the box. They need to listen to the feedback they get from email and online, and take it to heart. People don't take time to write long, involved letters these days. They have email, feedback, etc. So, yes, if networks only use the hidebound traditional ways to count shows, they cancel them before they should be. Times have changed. The family doesn't crowd around the TV together anymore. The TV isn't the main focus of the home anymore, and the networks need to realize this. In other words, fan protests aren't just about enjoyable programs, it's about changing attitudes, and getting more quality for our time.

8. What have you enjoyed most as a fandom member? Least?

I think what I've most enjoyed about being part of fandom is meeting people. When I was younger, I was shy, withdrawn, introverted and thus didn't make friends easily. It wasn't until I got involved in STAR TREK fandom that I began to meet others who were like me, and it gave me a sense of "belonging." I could relate to what these other fans were saying; I'd been left out of teams, ridiculed for being smart, and had exactly ONE date in high school (and it wasn't to the Prom, either!). Many of us were alike in that respect, and in others. We could discuss Science Fiction written by Andre Norton (one of the most highly respected women writers of the 20th Century), and talk about TV shows we liked, and speculate about the future. It was scary back in the 60s; there was the Cold War, Vietnam, the Bay of Pigs and the Cuban Missile Crisis. Times were changing, and STAR TREK actually gave many of us hope that the future might just turn out all right after all. So, the part I like best about fandom will always be the people one can meet and relate to, and come to care about. It's the same in JERICHO fandom; amidst all the scary stuff there are people who are kind, and who aren't afraid to reach out to one another and share the hope that tomorrow will be a better day.
As for what I like least about fandom? The in-fighting. Fandom, unfortunately, builds on an infrastructure that can easily lead to back-biting, insults, egotism and all uselessly. There is no such thing as "real" power in fandom; it's all pretence. Posturing is so childish, but there will always be some involved in fandom who cannot see the forest for the trees, and insist they "control" fandom. No one does. Fandom is a phenomenon, not a controllable element. It can be pointed to positive ends, and it can be used to hurt people. It's so much better when the phenomenon is used for the right purposes.

9. Do you believe a person who joins a fandom is somehow different from one who is simply a fan who watches the show and doesn't get involved?

Yes, and no. Everyone is different, one from the other. Everyone is unique, and they may have similarities, but they will all be different, and get involved in different ways and for different reasons. This is a difficult question. In many cases, something inside a person just makes them get more involved than others. Chances are, they're also involved with other causes, not just fandom. Fandom is something in which a person can put as much, or as little, time as they wish, and still be involved. Some folks will automatically jump in with both feet. They're the ones who create forums, write blogs and build online communities. Others will enjoy what those people build, but won't be inclined to create it themselves. Fandom needs ALL those people, not just "movers & shakers." It needs people to be vocal and creative, and it needs the silent supporters. Everyone is valuable in a fandom, and no one is any more important than anyone else. Different? Yes, in that most people who get heavily involved in fandom want to make a difference in the world. Fandom isn't always frivolous; fandom can be motivational and dedicated to making the world a better place.

10. How important is leadership to a fandom?

It depends upon the type of leadership. A true leader doesn't walk over everyone else and think they know best. Leadership is knowing how to help everyone in a fandom find their niche, and be a guide, not a dictator. Most people who WANT to be leaders shouldn't be. Guidance is important to fandom, far more than individual leaders. Most fandoms have core groups who helped start the fandom; some see them as leaders, but if they're truly interested in the good of the fandom, they will be more inspirations and examples than leaders. Tacitus said it well: "Reason and judment are the qualities of a leader." There is no true power in fandom, just prestige and preception. A fan only has the power that other fans hand to them, and most people who want the forefront in fandom should really not have it. The best leaders are those who walk the walk, not just talk the talk. Real professional people have a dim view of fandom and fans mostly because many fans have a crushing need to be "important." True leaders have no need to be important, and would rather have respect. Having the respect of a fandom is far more important than being seen as a leader.

Anything else you'd like to add?

These were some of the most interesting, thought-provoking questions I've ever been asked, and I greatly appreciate the honor you've done me. As you know, I rarely have difficulty expressing myself or giving my opinion, but these questions made me sit and think about my answers. I was flattered and truly enjoyed being a part of your blog. Fandom has helped me through some very difficult times in my life, and fans can be the most generous, kind, loving people on earth. They can also be a formidable force, and should never be taken lightly. As April Parker so eloquently said, fandom is "power to the people, power OF the people." Fans should recognize this, and accept responsibility for their actions. Fandom should always be altruistic, not self-glorifying. Peace.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Nielsen: Do You Count ?

We call Rich Becker the "Hammer" because he hits the nail on the head almost every time. His latest post is no exception. How many good TV shows have we lost because of them counting too few viewers?

"Why are Nielsen numbers only sometimes important? According to Nielsen: There are 5,000 households in the national People Meter sample, approximately 20,000 households in the local metered market samples, approximately 1,000 metered homes for our national and local Hispanic measurement, and nearly 1.6 million diaries are edited each year.

In other words, on Nielsen’s best day, we can expect less than 2 percent of all television households to be sampled, which doesn’t even consider how many people lie (if you were a Jericho fan, chances are you would say you watched it, even if you did not). Or, in yet other words, Nielsen only sounds good when someone like Hinman writes it up like this. Ho hum."

"My point is that the rating system has become little more than a tool to push perception instead of reality. How far from reality? Far enough from reality that when a show like Jericho, for example, is placed in a setting where every viewer is tracked, like TiVo viewers or iTunes downloads, it comes close to the top and looks more viable."

"Interactive ads and techniques to advertise in the VOD and DVR age are top of mind for advertisers, portions of a new survey by the Association of National Advertisers and Forrester Research says. 65% of advertisers want to try ads embedded in VOD, while 43% want to experiment with interactive ads. The full survey will be released next Thursday."

"How does the generally competent Sara Erichson, VP of sales and client services, plan to handle the general incompetence of Nielsen, the audience measure company plagued by, among other things, delays in reporting its TV data?
Like any good media conglomerate exec, she’s overseeing the snatching up other companies."

"Marketers need to better understand the changing dynamics of the consumer media market and develop new marketing plans that integrate new media to replace the erosion of traditional media for influence to purchase," said Gary Drenik, president of BIGresearch.

"Marketers who can't tap new media options for their influence to purchase will suffer a decline in advertising ROI."


This post has been on my mind so I'll share with you all.

"I do not believe that the men who served in uniform in Vietnam have been given the credit they deserve. It was a difficult war against an unorthodox enemy." William Westmoreland

Who doesn't remember where they were when JFK was killed? I remember that day well because it was a moment in time that forever burned itself inside my memory. It's not only because JFK was assassinated but because of who I was with at the time.

I was in school sitting behind my friend Reggie. When the principal announced that JFK had died Reggie turned around and we started chattering. Reggie lives in my memory forever as that young boy who turned to look at me with eyes of astonishment and disbelief.

We did not know and could not have known that the day would come when Reggie's plane was shot down and he was killed in Vietnam. This post is for you, my friend. You will never be forgotten.

" Dallas County District Attorney Craig Watkins announced this week that documents related to the assassination of President John F. Kennedy were found in a little-known vault in his office. He said his intention was to release them to the public. The documents were compiled by Henry Wade, the district attorney at the time of the assassination. Mr. Wade and his successors never made them public.

The contents include transcripts, personal and official letters, newspaper clippings, lists of jurors, police reports, rap sheets, autopsy reports, trial notes, police notebooks, photographs and much more.

The documents appear here exactly as they were received by The News . They are neither cataloged nor indexed, and they are in no apparent order.

Given the volume, we haven't been able to review most of the files. That's why were calling on you. Here's your chance to review never-seen-before materials related to the JFK assassination."

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Monster Guest Post: Michael Hinman


Tuesday night, as the second episode of "Jericho" was airing on CBS, I decided to go to bed early. It's deadline day in my real job, and I was exhausted. So why not let the DVR do what it's designed to do, and allow me to watch one of my favorite shows when I'm more awake?

Convenience is something society has longed for, and DVRs (and its predecessor, the VCR -- you can find those in the Smithsonian) are the poster child of that kind of society. Nothing wrong with that, in my book, that is until I see the overnight ratings the next day and find that the "Jericho" audience is eroding.

I have to ask myself, it is my fault? Did I cost "Jericho" a big set of eyeballs that could've helped boost it in the Jewish and overweight male 18-49 demographic? Should I have called my mom in Pennsylvania just before the start of the show to make sure she was tuned in?

While it's important to make sure that people ARE watching the show, unless you're a Nielsen Family (and trust me, you'd know if you're a Nielsen Family), you could make sure everyone in your town was gathered in your living room to watch the show, and it wouldn't matter a single iota.

Believe it or not, Nielsen isn't tracking every single household, every single viewer. In fact, for many decades, Nielsen has depended primarily on statistical sampling to provide audience measurement. That means choosing households in different markets at random (believe it or not, families are NOT picked based on demographics ahead of time), and then tracked and categorized based on the demographics they represent. But what the heck does all that mean?

During each reporting period, Nielsen releases a pair of numbers they say represent the audience of a particular show. For example, a recent overnight rating gave "Jericho" a 3.9/8. By itself, those numbers are practically meaningless, but they do say a lot. Without having to look at anything else, you can tell that a little over 4 million households turned on "Jericho" the night before. That's because the 3.9 is a household rating. Each rating point is a percentage of the 111.4 million households in the United States that has a television, so that means each ratings point represents 1.1 million households. Remember, however, that this number is different from the total number of viewers, because depending on the show, a household could have anywhere between 1 and 100 people who could be watching a show at any particular time. More commonly, however, it's about 2 people in every household, and more if it appeals to family audiences.

It's easier to track the number of households watching a particular show than it is the number of viewers, although viewership numbers are becoming easier to determine thanks to advances in technology spearheaded by Nielsen. More and more Nielsen Families are using a device known as a People Meter, which looks like a small cable box and a remote control. The box records data on what the family is watching, and sends it each night to Nielsen Media Research's Oldsmar, Fla. facility (which just happens to be a dozen or so miles from where I live). Each family member has their own assigned number that they press on the remote control when they watch TV so Nielsen knows if mom and dad are watching one thing, and the kids are watching another. However, a majority of families still use paper diaries, meaning each person in the house documents what they were watching, how long they watched it for, and who all watched it with them.

It's a rather complex process, but is the lifeblood of helping to determine who is watching what.

The second number found in the 3.9/8 example is what is known as the "share." If you looked at "Jericho's" household numbers, you will quickly discover that only 3.9 percent of the total TV households in America were tuned in, which doesn't seem like a lot. But what if many of those families weren't home? What if they were like me and decided to go to bed early? Should that count against shows like "Jericho"?

That's where share comes in. While 3.9 represents the total percentage of households tuned in to a show, the share represents the total percentage of households that had their TV on that were tuned in. That means 8 percent of all television sets turned on were on CBS during that time period.

Do the math, and and you may panic that 92 percent of households that had their TV turned on weren't watching the show. But please, sit down and drink a glass of water. Even the best performing shows are lucky to get 20 percent of households with TVs turned on to be watching their shows. There are a lot of channels out there for people to watch, and getting a share of that audience is difficult at best for anyone. Not even "American Idol" can pull in better than 25 percent of those televisions.

Now that the numbers make more sense, how can we use ratings to determine the fate of our shows? Well, that's where it gets very complicated.

Nielsen has no interest in what shows survive and what shows die. Contrary to popular belief, networks don't ask for ratings in order to see what survives and what doesn't. They pay for these ratings for one primary goal: to know how much they can charge advertisers who buy commercials for their shows.

Obviously, a show that pulls in 7 million households will demand more money per 30 seconds of commercial airtime than a show that has 5 million households. But overall numbers isn't how everything works. There are so many substrata of numbers that networks look at, like demographics. It's not just about black, white, Hispanic, or Asian, or male or female, or even age ... it's a number of audience subsets created based on nothing more than their buying power. Adults 18 to 49 is one of the key demographics because they have disposable income. Although the gay and lesbian community reportedly only represents 10 percent of the total population, they also are a key demographic because without children to pay for, they have a bit more money to spend (and boy, do they like to shop!)

Seriously, though, a question I have received a lot over the last 10 years running SyFy Portal is why did Show X, with an average rating of 4.5 get cancelled while Show Y, with an average rating of 3.5 stay on the air? What's the magic number?

There is no overall magic number. Each show costs a different amount to produce. "Jericho," obviously, is more expensive to produce than "Boston Legal," but cheaper to produce than "Battlestar Galactica." Going into any project, a network determines how much money they need to make, to not only pay for the show, but also to make money as well (this is showBUSINESS after all). I don't know what the target numbers are for "Jericho," but for example's sake, CBS could sit down and say that "Jericho" needs a household rating of 4.5 for it to earn enough advertising dollars to pay for itself and for them to break even. However, stockholders who invest in CBS Corp. want to see big profit margins, so the network needs to hit a 5.5 in order to make the minimum profit margin demanded for the show, because it can charge higher advertising rates for a 5.5 than it can for a 4.5.

But then "Jericho" comes in with a 4.7 consistently. Does that mean "Jericho" will automatically be cancelled? Not exactly. There are a number of other factors involved. Does "Jericho" have a fanbase outside its live viewers who tune in right when the show airs? Is it making a lot of money with rebroadcasts in other markets, and overseas? Are other distribution nodes popular like downloads on CBS.com or iTunes? Is it projected to make a lot on DVD? Could CBS replace "Jericho" with something they think will better meet profit margins or ratings expectations?

It's never a black and white answer, and many times comes down to nothing more than a judgment call by a network exec. Over the past decade. SyFy Portal has had a tremendous track record in predicting shows that would stay or go, mostly because of our detailed understanding on the ratings that matter to networks, and because of long-term relationships we've maintained with sources who are part of the bean-counting pool. In fact, one of the rare occasions where we were actually wrong was with "Jericho." The numbers, while down from the first half of the season, were still pretty strong by network standards, and we were told by our sources at CBS that it looked almost certain the show was going to be greenlighted, something that has since been confirmed by network officials. But at the last second, CBS had a change of heart, and suddenly "Jericho" was no more.

While there is a tremendous amount of science backing decisions on whether shows live or die by the Nielsen sword, it still comes down to human judgment in the end. And you can't fault the network heads. They have all the variables you read about above and many, many more swirling around in their heads, and they have to make the best decision they can while trying to satisfy as many people as possible. They know that decisions to cancel shows caused them to be vilified, but we have to respect the fact that they know what they are doing, and if we disagree we, we do it the "Jericho" way -- we are polite, we speak in terms that networks understand (helped by having a detailed knowledge about how they made the decisions they do), and we send tons and tons of nuts just to make sure they don't forget about us.

"Jericho" fans proved that can work, and I still have a special place in my heart for all of the Rangers who helped bring my show back to the network.

Michael Hinman is the founder and site coordinator for SyFy Portal, a leading independent science-fiction and fantasy news Web site run by fans for fans. He resides in Tampa, Fla., and is author of the popular weekly column, SyFriday. He covered the "Jericho" campaign practically from the beginning, being the first Web site to interview the company handling distribution of nuts, and was one of the first to announce the show's return a month later.