Why Burn Two Episodes for an "Event" When You Only Have 8 of Them?
update: ABC is not burning two of the eight episodes (the first one hour is a recap, see comments. Thanks Fred!), but depending on how ratings turns out the question may still be valid.
ABC is kicking off its last episodes of LOST with a special two hour event airing two episodes of LOST this Thursday that will lead-in to the pilot episode of ABC's Eli Stone.
Old school thinking reigns supreme with TV. It doesn't matter that the landscape changed dramatically in the last 15 years, it doesn't matter that there is a WGA strike. Screw it, we'll just do exactly what we always did because we ALWAYS MAKE MONEY HAND OVER FIST!
While that may be true, it doesn't seem to be optimizing the money they could actually make. There may be so much in the way of smoke and mirrors with advertising that the truth doesn't actually matter. We'll see soon enough and I will get to find out if things work the way I think they should work, or if they in fact work another way.
Here's how I think it works: outside of NFL football and some very special event circumstance, it's almost impossible to get 20 million people to watch the same channel on TV for three whole hours. The airing of LOST's final 8 episodes isn't the special event circumstance I'm thinking of. It's a big deal to me, because I like LOST a lot (though the last 1/4th of season 3 - eh) but it's not a 9/11 or Princess Diana style event (thank goodness!) or an NFL playoff, which I don't think bodes well for anyone wanting to hunker down for 3 hours.
If I was the producer of Eli Stone, I'm sure I'd be thrilled with all the promotion, and the lead-in. But, I'm not sure they're doing Eli any favors. If the two hours of Lost is very good, people will be too spent after the 2 hours to want to hunker down for another hour. What I predict you'll see (if we get half-hourly data) is that the first half hour of Eli will look really good, (because of Lost running over past 10pm) but the last half hour will lose 50% of the lead in.
If it works out that way - say Eli only has ~10 million viewers for the second half hour, I think it shows that ABC is not at all thinking about effective optimization. If that turns out to be the case, it will leave me thinking that ABC wasted a Thursday by blowing an extra episode of Lost (there are only 8 episodes!) and that Eli Stone would've been much better served with only one episode of Lost as a lead-in. Simple math seems to dictate that more people can spend two hours watching TV than can spend watching three hours.
The desire to "turn something into an event" even if it doesn't actually best serve your purposes may be archaic thinking that the networks need to disband with. We'll get an idea of how wrong (or on the off-chance, right) I am on Friday.
I'd love to know what everyone else thinks.