Lipstick Jungle's Ratings Say It's Dead, So Who Spun The Save Our Show PR?

Categories: TV Business

Written By

December 1st, 2008

The ratings for NBC's Lipstick Jungle point conclusively to it being cancelled. The trend of the show's season to date (STD) adults 18-49 average has been relentlessly down, falling each week except one (the week of 10/13 saw an uptick). So, except for a single week, the all important 18-49 demo ratings have fallen each week.* It's also NBC's second worst rated scripted show this season in the demo. With that being the case, who might have spun the "save our show" PR piece in Sunday's New York Times?

Robert and I often differ on who is more responsible for the "save our show" efforts, the networks or the producers. The networks hold off on announcing that a show is cancelled because they don't want advertisers to bail on a show if they are going to continue to air the remaining episodes. The producers of a show may attempt to generate "save our show" efforts that are directly tied to their own financial success in the shows.

If we examine the Times piece for what's being said and who is saying it, I think it's pretty conclusive that it was generated at the behest of the producers trying (in a futile attempt, I believe) to save the show.

There's a quote about the benefits from Live+7 DVR viewers:

Ms. Shields embarked on an arcane discussion of the show’s performance in the Nielsen ratings, specifically its gains in the category of “live plus 7,” when measured against “live plus same day.” Translation: Among viewers 18 to 49, the group prime-time advertisers most wish to reach, the show’s ratings increase by about 29 percent — or by 652,000 viewers, to 2.3 million, according to the most recent Nielsen figures — when the numbers include people who take as many as seven days to watch an episode on digital video recorders as opposed to those who watch it live or within hours of its broadcast.

No prime-time program gets a bigger boost in viewership from long-range DVR viewers, according to an NBC analysis of the Nielsen data. And that has been something of a lifeline for the series,

Unfortunately, we don't get the Live+7 data for adults 18-49 to be able to verify that claim (although Lipstick Jungle does have high levels of DVR viewing), but we're pretty sure based on other analysis that DVR viewing past telecast date has little effect on the advertising revenue for a show and therefore its eventual success.

I think it's unlikely that the networks would spin this out, they know they get paid based on C+3 commercial ratings that closely track the Live viewing audiences. Signs point to the producers. Also, the fact that the quote came from one of the actors on the show also points to the producers. I think it would be unusual for a network to have actors speak for the show in this way.

The only quote from someone at NBC is also telling:

“There is incredible passion for this show at NBC, and there is incredible passion from fans,” said Teri Weinberg, executive vice president of NBC Entertainment. “But we need to find some evidence in the numbers as we go forward. We have a magnifying glass on the show.”

That's exactly the kind of thing you'd expect someone from the network to say when contacted about a story being written about a show with 4 episodes remaining to be telecast. It says, and means, exactly nothing while remaining upbeat. Someone from the network would never give the alternative quote of "The show's dead, we're just playing out the string of produced episodes".

Who exactly might have helped spin this particular piece to the Times?

Between the end of last season and the beginning of this one the writing staff was largely overhauled, with Oliver Goldstick, whose previous credits include “Ugly Betty,” installed as an executive producer and show runner. Ilene Rosenzweig and Rick Marin, a married couple who had worked for the Style pages of The New York Times, were hired as executive story editors.

Any guesses?

*Note that the first 5 weeks of the season Lipstick Jungle was telecast on Wednesday's. Since the week of 10/27 it has been on Friday's at 10pm.

Nielsen TV Ratings Data: ©2008 The Nielsen Company. All Rights Reserved.

© 2015 Tribune Digital Ventures