Saturday, March 8, 2008

Jericho: Counting The Everyman

My thanks to Karen for sharing her letter. Pay attention CBS.

To whom it may concern:

I’m writing you today to encourage the people that matter and
influence programming decisions to continue to support a little show
called Jericho. To be totally honest I do not trust Nielsen’s to
accurately represent myself and people like me who have little time
in their life for brainless, heartless television. Perhaps we do not
represent double digit millions but we are significant. We matter.
This is the only way I can feel I count so I truly hope someone reads

I fall in the treasured age demographic, though I am a female and not
the coveted “boy-man” demo. I make a respectable income and have
complete control over how it is spent.

Why do I support Jericho so passionately? I’ve though a great deal
about this because I wondered why I cared so much too. For one thing,
from the first promo I saw I was reminded of one of my favorite
novels, read many times, Alas Babylon.

I am from the Midwest. I grew up in South Dakota and my father was a
Chief Master Sergeant in the Air Force and he worked in a missile
wing. I can still remember when he snuck me into a missile silo and
let me peek over the edge. I was maybe 8 years old. I knew exactly
what it was and what it could do. Maybe because of this, I have
always known such possibilities as Jericho really do exist. Maybe
that is part of the lure. But when you grow up in South Dakota, and
for years at any rate, you couldn’t drive very far but you saw the
tell tale (at least to me) signs of a nuclear weapon somewhere.

I went to university in South Dakota too, graduated and now live and
work in Nebraska. I work for a small, independent telephone, cable
and internet company that services much of rural central Nebraska.

Do you realize that Jericho is one of the few programs I can ever
remember that accurately depicts small town, rural Americans? Jericho
is the “everyman” for a chunk of Americans who are largely neglected
by the entertainment industry. I know every single one of the people
portrayed in Jericho in real life.

My telephone technicians, who are also the county EMTs, and fireman
or who ranch on the side, one even runs a scavenging business and can
find you any kind of part, engine or any object are just like many
characters on Jericho. Oliver with the radio? Totally my customer
who calls in insisting that men in black cars are parking on the hill
and tapping in to their phone conversations. Emily and Heather are
definitely the women who teach but work the farm as well, or like the
woman who opened the mechanics shop with money she inherited from
family. Gail and Johnston Green are the people who come rescue you 40
miles out in to the country when your car breaks down. Do you see
characters like this on the double digit million viewer shows?
Probably not, because the majority of your urban viewers (read: the
most people with a Nielsen box) don’t think that’s realistic.

Jericho puts these people in an unknowable situation and the writers
spin heart and intrigue into the stories. People think no one is as
versatile as these characters but when you live where there isn’t a
WalMart for 50 miles and businesses close at 8 or 10 pm, you make
sure you know how to do many different jobs and you develop multiple
skills. There is no place I would rather be than a small town if a
disaster occurred.

The writers have also put us, viewers that relate, into a position to
feel up close and personal what people in many nations deal with
daily: deprivation and oppression. It is one thing to watch the news
and see a story or read history and another to see a street that
looks like my street, with people who are just like the people I know
facing that situation.

I also appreciate that the women of Jericho are presented as the
backbone of the community, as people of strength, action, wisdom and

But, why should the network support Jericho?

Because six million faithful viewers in your hand is worth 11 million
in the proverbial bush.

Jericho fans turn out. Jericho fans continue to recruit (but it takes
time to catch people up). With the lead in of a show that is
guaranteed to be viewed by people who have no desire to turn on their
brains, you can’t expect them to stay tuned to Jericho. And people
who would probably like Jericho aren’t going to remember to go back
and turn it on (unless they are the diehards). This is not effective

Why should you support Jericho? Because on a night when the biggest
juggernaut in American Television history has its following sitting
on the phone either voting or yapping with a friend over yet another
singing zombie must see TV episode, Jericho holds steady. On the
Tuesday nights when the first actually exciting primaries between
iconic, history making candidates is playing out and people are
actually interested, maybe even excited about politics, Jericho is
holding steady. Without E!TV coverage of some scandalous trespass the
actors are not involved in; without one Early Show recap, behind the
scenes or sneak peak; without Barbie Doll actors sporting the latest
fashions or indulging in clandestine, steamy relationships in a
closet, Jericho is holding steady.

Imagine a Jericho that is supported. Imagine a Jericho with some talk
show coverage. Imagine a Jericho aired before the viewers have to go
to bed because they work early. Imagine a Jericho with a lead in of a
television show that somewhat fits the profile of viewers interested
in smart, speculative, heart warming, funny, action TV.

Why, the viewer base might have a chance to grow! And always, like a
steady heartbeat, the faithful fans will be there. Your numbers at
least show that. I know advertisers buy the shows, but there are more
types of viewers than rating Goliaths cater to, and we have money to
spend too. Why not get both kinds of viewers instead of settling for
just the one slice, even if it is big? Is it really smarter to throw
an amount of money after a possibility than hang on to something
solid? How many of your freshman shows survived last year? I’m not
gambling a whole lot when I say maybe a smaller return on a sure
thing is better to back than losing a wad of money to that
glistening, good looking longshot.

Now a word about “new media”. I know it is an unknown factor. I know
it isn’t quantifiable in the same way as tried and trusty (but
questionable in truly reflecting the entire public’s taste)
Nielsen’s. New media is a baby.

Well, someone needs to start feeding the baby now. It may not be a
huge number but Jericho has a strong internet and download following.
Yes, some of it is repeat users like myself who want media in various
formats, but a lot of it is unique. It’s certainly how the people I
have interested in Jericho are catching up.

The company I work for took a gamble 12 years ago and shelled out to
begin installing a fiber network throughout our territory, which is
some of the most rugged isolated country around, because they saw
something coming. The big companies didn’t want to do it and other
independents were uncertain (though many were persuaded by our
actions to do the same not too long after). As a result, when the
technology was needed because the public interest in digital devices
became a necessity, we were able to provide service long before other
rural areas. Our CEO didn’t use internet and didn’t see why our
customers would need it, but some of us persuaded them that these
people needed it most. You are lucky if your town has a public
library at all, and those that do have maybe two days a week that it
is open. In an area where you have to mail order half your purchases
or drive 50 or more miles to Walmart or Kmart or Target because they
don’t carry it at the U Pump It or local equivalent of Gracie’s
Grocery, internet was going to be a godsend. So, as a result 95% of
our customers can get DSL and the rest are coming (it really is
rural). While big companies are dropping the towns they have because
they don’t want to put in equipment and while other small
independents or co-ops are closing because it is too much to handle
now when demand is so big, we are stable because we fed the baby.

The other day, one of my remote customers called in very excited
because we will be turning up equipment that can provide her DSL.
Satellite TV is all that brings them a clear picture, if it isn’t
windy, or storming, which it often is. The first question out of her
mouth to me was “So then I can watch TV shows whenever I want online,
right? And I don’t have to watch them when they are on TV?” The very
first question. Not pricing or anything else was on the top of her
mind, but rather “I can watch TV shows”.

Find a way to monetize, measure and quantify “new media” because,
like Jericho fans, it’s here and it’s not going anywhere soon. Feed
the baby.

Friday, March 7, 2008

Loving Jericho: Karen

Here is how I planned to begin this post:

Hello Karen. I don't know you but I think we could get along. I love your posts at tvbythenumbers because you rise above the gloom and doom. I'm so sick of all the naysayers. People said the Nuts couldn't save Jericho yet here we are.

Thank you for your persistence. Keep up the good work.

The Internet is a big place but Karen's passion sparked something inside me so I went in search of her. Not easy. It took a few hours but I did find her and she has responded to my email so I now do know who she is.

The following are just a few of Karen's comments that caught my eye:

"No the answer is this: If one little show, Jericho, can prove the nielsen rating system is flawed, down goes the monopoly. It’s really that simple.

nielsen numbers flip flop all over

online buzz remains consistent and continues to grow.

You tell me what’s going on."

"Someone posted today on how hers was a Nielsen family but her ex-husband (now) controlled the remote, switching constantly between sports channels and she had to watch her programs at other houses. How often are Nielsen views actually controlled by one member? But it is moot. I will be told that Nielsen’s are the only measures and that’s just how it is.

BTW, the ratings dip two Tuesdays apart. Weren’t those BOTH election Tuesdays? Is that suspicious at all looking at the bounce? It seems to me *something* is affecting them other than disinterest."

Be sure to read more of Karen's comments and you'll be seeing her here on JM soon. Thank you Karen.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Why Not Emily ?

"Do you think this is all a corporate plot? If so, does that make sense or make your head hurt? Or do you think nutjob elements of the government found this contingency plan and decided to play it out? And why did Bonnie have to die -why couldn't it have been Emily?"

"However, as we begin to turn our attention to this year's upfront market, the question we find ourselves asking is, Do TV ratings still stand up as a reliable and usable measure that advertisers, agencies and broadcasters need to make the right investment decisions? In a multiplatform, digital media world where engagement is as important as headcount, it's time to think about a different currency.

This is why we developed the Content Power Rating. This is the first and most comprehensive survey of its kind that ranks network and cable programs size across broadcast TV, web, online video and mobile; its value in terms of PR and word-of-mouth buzz; and audience appeal. The purpose of this report is to provide an independent assessment of a TV program's true commercial value and footprint. Content Power Ratings is a currency to value TV shows for networks, producers, advertisers and sponsors."


Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Breaking News: CBS Press Release

"Source: CBS Press Release.

On-Air + Online + On-DVR = Many More Eyeballs and Double Digit Percentage Demo Increases

"Jericho" and "Big Brother" Viewer Engagement Across Multi-Platforms Is Far Greater Than Initial Same Day Ratings Indicate

On-air, online and on-DVR viewing are resulting in many more eyeballs for CBS series JERICHO and BIG BROTHER, according to Nielsen Live Plus 7-Day ratings and new data from CBS Interactive Research.


According to Nielsen Live Plus 7-Day ratings, JERICHO's second season premiere (Feb. 12) ratings increased by +15% in adults 18-49 (3.0/07 from 2.6/07), +17% in adults 25-54 (3.5/08 from 3.0/07) and by more than one million viewers (8.14m from 7.13m, +14%) compared to its live plus same day ratings.

According to CBS Interactive Research, the second season premiere episode of JERICHO was streamed 520,000 times across the CBS Audience Network during its first week (Feb. 12-18) and 700,000 times over a 14-day period (Feb. 12-25).

JERICHO's other online engagement during its second season premiere week included 760,000 streams of episodes from its first season and 130,000 streams of various clips, upping JERICHO's first week cumulative streams to 1.41 million.

Additional online engagement for JERICHO that week included five times the volume of JERICHO searches vs. the prior four weeks, seven times the daily traffic to JERICHO message boards (compared to mid-January traffic) and three times the average daily blog posts. "

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Jericho: Election Preemptions

Elections are being held Tuesday 3/4 in Texas, Ohio, Rhode Island and Vermont.

Be sure to write CBS if you can't watch Tuesday and let them know Jericho was preempted.

Here is another good article about shows that are cancelled and the audience that is often unnoticed by Nielsen and the networks. Think Jericho.

"Have you ever wondered why some TV shows are canceled due to supposedly low ratings when it seems like they have a strong following? Sometimes there are obvious reasons - like when CBS scheduled Jericho up against Fox's American Idol, or Journeyman possibly being a victim of bad timing with the writers' strike and too many reality show hitting the networks.

Neilsen Ratings are the measurement of selected "families" who actually sit down to watch television programs, watch. This tells me that networks tend to rely on the black and white data, and not consider what the "unnoticed" audience watches. Neilsen families are the ones who make shows like 60 Minutes, Seinfeld, ER, Survivor, CSI & American Idol the top rated shows in their respective time slots. I'm no expert, but this sounds like the folks that enjoy these shows may not be sci fi fans. Sci fi is a smaller niche, but fans of sci fi shows tend to be extremely loyal and dedicated to a series.

Knowing a TV series' demographics has it's merit, but Nielsen's "sampling methods" have been (rightly) criticized since the selected families know who they are, defeating the premise of double blind testing. Neilsen ratings also refuse to count recorded programming for later viewing as part of its sampling methods. This used to apply to VCRs (remember those?) but now includes Digital Recording Devices like Tivo. This does make some sense, since we skip commercials watching recorded shows, but it could spur advertisers to think of more creative ways to put ads in front of viewers while the show is on."

Monday, March 3, 2008

Nielsen Gadgetry

"Over the years, I’ve seen plenty of good shows tank due to poor ratings, including Sports Night, Wonderfalls, Freaks and Geeks, and Undeclared. And one day about two years ago, I thought all that would change, because my household was randomly chosen to be part of the "Nielsen family.

Not only did my watching or not watching shows have no impact on what made it and what didn’t, but also the Nielsen gadgetry became larger and larger, until at one point our two TVs had so many boxes and wires hanging off of them that they resembled a fifth grader’s technology project, with boxes literally duct-taped to the backs of the TV sets. (Oh, and the technicians had to buy us two new VHS recorders when they managed to drop each of ours within hours of each other.)

The last straw was when Nielsen called and said they would have to come by my house to install some new equipment (for the third time in six months) and it would probably take two days minimum.

There was no telling how much crap they would be taping to my TVs this time around.

So I told them to take all their stuff, because I was through.

And ever since, just as many shows I watch have been canceled, so it seems I didn’t really count anyway."

Sunday, March 2, 2008

OMyWord: Overcoming Abuse

I met Lisa last September after we both participated in BlogCatalog 's End To Abuse. Lisa won first place for the post you can find here.

After realizing that people are continuing to find the post I did with my friend, Beth, I decided it was time to do an update. I wrote Lisa to ask for a comment which turned into her graciously agreeing to do this guest post.

I was living in Laguna Beach, California in the late 80s, working my corporate job while unconsciously trying to connect with my deeper, hidden self. I tried to wear the requisite Dianne Feinstein 80s corporate dress...the grey long-skirt suit, the white curved-collar blouse, the dainty ribbon-bow tie, the definitely-not come-f***-me pumps. But, I failed. The lurking communist, artist, big bad girl in me kept popping out. Yellow spike heels. Orange linen suits. Cheesy Dollar-Store underwear. The fact that I chose to live in Laguna, versus Newport Beach, was telling. Newport was slick and Republican. Laguna was gay, artistic, Democratic.

But one day I was lured to Newport, by a friend of mine who wanted me to hear this new motivational speaker, Pat Allen. I felt I had to dress accordingly, before crossing that line from the trailer park in North Laguna to a bar on the Pacific Coast Highway unhappily if appropriately named The Quiet Woman (headless, of course) in Corona Del Mar, to the sterile, consumerist Rolls Roycean '80s champagne and caviar Robin Leach-ian shores of Newport's Fashion Island. So, I wore flip flops and raggedy jeans, with a white blouse to confuse the gendarmes. It was to be a gathering of acolytes to hear the message of the new crusader psychologist, Pat Allen. I had never heard of her, with my head buried deeply in the shifting sands of corporate America.

The room was packed. Hundreds of people. There were several people up on stage, some decidedly too hippieish for Newport Beach. One of whom, Jeri Kissler, a Jungian art therapist, was to become my life-long friend. Finally, Pat Allen stood at the podium, and her voice burned into me. She spoke of women and men and the archetypes deep inside of us. She spoke of the mystical roles each of us played in the evolution of humankind. She introduced me to Jungian psychology for the first time.

But Pat Allen wasn't simply esoteric. She was practical, infinitely practical. There was much too much abuse in the world, perpetrated upon us by others, and by ourselves. If we are to evolve, it must stop. How? We all, all of us, every one of us, every single one of us in the room, must commit to play our given roles, to become conscious. We cannot shirk. Pat won't let us. She would find us, and know. (At least I was thinking this, being perpetually guilty.) And so, all of us raised our hands, and repeated after her. I did it. Me, the person most resistant to joining any group movement. Me, the corporate lamb, imagining myself every day, as a wolf.

"Women!" she demanded our attention. "Raise your hands!" We did. "Repeat after me: I will never, ever, ever give anything to anybody, unless there is something in it for me."

The word "boundaries" has become a trendy psychobabble catch phrase. But it's the basis of potential abuse. As a woman, I grew up thinking I had no right to object. It was better to comply. In this inherently unsafe world, the first inevitable abuse breaks the boundaries, or pushes through where none had previously existed. The first breach can be small or catastrophic, but it can open up the floodgates and make abuse a lifestyle. What if we all asked ourselves this question before we nodded our assent, opened up our hearts, let the stranger in the door: "What's in it for me?" We could begin to define our boundaries. The ones we never had, or the ones we lost.

This is what Pat Allen taught me. It was not about selfishness. It was about self-fullness. It's about declaring our right to discernment, to choice, to existing as fully-formed, righteous human beings, solidly planted, with a right to exist on this planet, to take up space without apology, and express ourselves gloriously. To decide, after a moment - or even a year or more - of reflection, whether or not there is something in it, for us.


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