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Is ABC “Losing It” with LOST?

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January 28th, 2008

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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. 

 
  • http://TVoholic.com fred

    You know, there are NOT two episodes of the new season of Lost this week !

    First they rerun last season's finale to get things started, and then on Thursday then open at 8.00 with their usual recap episode – which contains NOTHING NEW and is not one of the episodes of season 4 – and then, at 9.00 comes the season premiere of the new season.

    So that's only one new episode of Lost this week. That's not the first time ABC does things like that, opening with a recap “episode” that's nothing new.

    That said, even with one single episode I agree that Lost is probably not the best lead-in, if only because it's Lost, and once they've seen it people just talk about it, go online to talk about it, or just watch it again!

  • http://tvbythenumbers.com Robert Seidman

    Ah, I was definitely not aware that “Past, Present & Future” airing at 8pm was not one of the 8 new episodes and that only “The Beginning of the End” was one of the 8.

    DOH!

    Question is: what gets watched more, the 8pm Lost recap or Eli!? If it's the latter, not the former I will drop the line of questioning. If it's the recap, I think the question may still be valid. We'll see.

    For now, ABC:1 , Robert: 0 ;)

  • Blaquestarr

    They have to do a recap.

    Too many people dropped off at the end of last season because it became “meh”. I'm an avid LOST fan, but even I couldn't sit through some of those last episodes before the final 2 of the season. They do the recap to get their fan base back in on what they zoned out of last season – So Eli might be in some serious trouble…

  • http://TVoholic.com fred

    You know, there are NOT two episodes of the new season of Lost this week !

    First they rerun last season’s finale to get things started, and then on Thursday then open at 8.00 with their usual recap episode – which contains NOTHING NEW and is not one of the episodes of season 4 – and then, at 9.00 comes the season premiere of the new season.

    So that’s only one new episode of Lost this week. That’s not the first time ABC does things like that, opening with a recap “episode” that’s nothing new.

    That said, even with one single episode I agree that Lost is probably not the best lead-in, if only because it’s Lost, and once they’ve seen it people just talk about it, go online to talk about it, or just watch it again!

  • http://tvbythenumbers.com Robert Seidman

    Ah, I was definitely not aware that “Past, Present & Future” airing at 8pm was not one of the 8 new episodes and that only “The Beginning of the End” was one of the 8.

    DOH!

    Question is: what gets watched more, the 8pm Lost recap or Eli!? If it’s the latter, not the former I will drop the line of questioning. If it’s the recap, I think the question may still be valid. We’ll see.

    For now, ABC:1 , Robert: 0 ;)

  • Blaquestarr

    They have to do a recap.

    Too many people dropped off at the end of last season because it became “meh”. I’m an avid LOST fan, but even I couldn’t sit through some of those last episodes before the final 2 of the season. They do the recap to get their fan base back in on what they zoned out of last season – So Eli might be in some serious trouble…

  • http://tvbythenumbers.com Robert Seidman

    Blaque, I agree the show has been off air for a while, so it could be as you say that they just have to do a recap.

    Speaking for myself, I'd have been more than fine with a slightly extended version of “Previously on Lost…” I don't see myself watching the clips show recap.

  • http://tvbythenumbers.com Robert Seidman

    Blaque, I agree the show has been off air for a while, so it could be as you say that they just have to do a recap.

    Speaking for myself, I’d have been more than fine with a slightly extended version of “Previously on Lost…” I don’t see myself watching the clips show recap.

  • Rena Moretti

    Lost does awful in re-runs because it's just not that good anymore (if it ever was).

    somehow, a lot of people are still hooked to new episodes, but the new shows have lost about half the ratings they had originally and re-runs attract well near nobody.

    For some reason, ABC has decided to drag on the death of that show by cutting down the episode orders and re-launching it as if it's a new show.

    It's high time that ABC (and all the other networks – NBC in particular) realizes that re-launching old shows is a waste of money when you could be hunting for the next big hit.

  • Rena Moretti

    Lost does awful in re-runs because it’s just not that good anymore (if it ever was).

    somehow, a lot of people are still hooked to new episodes, but the new shows have lost about half the ratings they had originally and re-runs attract well near nobody.

    For some reason, ABC has decided to drag on the death of that show by cutting down the episode orders and re-launching it as if it’s a new show.

    It’s high time that ABC (and all the other networks – NBC in particular) realizes that re-launching old shows is a waste of money when you could be hunting for the next big hit.

  • David Escobido

    Lost does awful in re-runs because it is a show that requires you watch from the beginning to get the whole picture. It's not friends or Will and Grace or even Grey's Anatomy, where the show can begin and end and you are perfectly fine. You can watch the first and last and not be too far behind. LOST is not that type of show. If you are a new LOST watcher, watching re-runs for some strange reason, you are of course not going to want to continue watching because you will in fact be LOST.

    As far as LOST not being good anymore..it has had its moments but it has been the one of the best shows on tv. It will not have an early death and ABC is not stupid enough to do such a thing.

  • David Escobido

    Lost does awful in re-runs because it is a show that requires you watch from the beginning to get the whole picture. It’s not friends or Will and Grace or even Grey’s Anatomy, where the show can begin and end and you are perfectly fine. You can watch the first and last and not be too far behind. LOST is not that type of show. If you are a new LOST watcher, watching re-runs for some strange reason, you are of course not going to want to continue watching because you will in fact be LOST.

    As far as LOST not being good anymore..it has had its moments but it has been the one of the best shows on tv. It will not have an early death and ABC is not stupid enough to do such a thing.

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