San Francisco Chronicle TV columnist and critic and The Bastard Machine blogger Tim Goodman has a great post up covering what, up until this, sounded like just another boring convention. Goodman is one of a few reasons outside of the sports page that I'd hate to see The Chronicle go under. Plus, people like Tim are actually paid to attend these conventions so that people who loathe them don't have to. Thank you Tim Goodman! You earn every penny as far as I'm concerned.
Attending the TV of Tomorrow Show, Goodman covered a panel with Heroes creator Tim Kring:
"It's quite a depressing thing to watch the Nielsen ratings," Kring said today. He noted that there's so much competition - from other shows, other channels, the Internet, gaming, etc., that massive audiences are harder to find (and keep). So expanding the footprint of "Heroes" was essential. Which is why there's so much ancillary "Heroes" storytelling online, whether user generated or professional.
And yet, Kring told an anecdote that brought up the issues facing online and interactive content woes (smartly addressed at many of the TVOT sessions).
Kring said that his young son has a fascination with the Guinness Book of World Records, so Kring bought him the latest edition and they were thumbing through it. In the section on television, he saw a picture from his series and learned "Heroes" was the most downloaded show ever. "Nobody had told me that," he said. And noted: "Unfortunately most of it is illegally downloaded."
But Brian Seth Hurst, who was interviewing Kring, chimed in with the positive spin - that "Heroes" has a thriving, extensive brand (and a global one at that - which is probably what Bromstad glommed onto with such vigor...even if the ratings aren't there, via Nielsen, people know about the brand...There's gotta be money in there somewhere..). That footprint Kring wanted is damned big, no doubt. Sessions at the TV of Tomorrow Show have talked about ways to "monetize" broadband content, but nobody seemed to have any real answer for how. Even Kring, answering a question about the WGA strike - which had, as one of its most contentious points - revenue sharing outside of the original TV broadcast, said that there wasn't much to get excited about. "I'm not sure that anything substantial happened because of the strike," he said. - read the rest on The Bastard Machine
Interesting stuff. A couple of notes, Goodman suggests that all the online/interactive elements extending the brand played a hand in the show being renewed. I break ranks with Goodman there somewhat. The brand extensions might have helped some, and certainly didn't hurt, but if it had dropped to a 2.0 rating with adults 18-49, international exposure and interactive extensions of the brand would not have saved it. But it hasn't been that bad.
Despite languishing ratings -- and they are still falling -- it's still been one of NBC's better performing shows. In recent weeks it has trailed The Office, 30 Rock and The Biggest Loser when it comes to adults 18-49. Many would claim that Heroes is too expensive and that NBC should cut its losses, but you can cut costs. You don't typically cut your fourth best performing show. The renewal was never in doubt for Bill Gorman or the Renew/Cancel index.