TV By The Numbers Is More Powerful Than You Can Possibly Imagine...

Categories: TV Business

Written By

May 14th, 2012

While the claim that TV by the Numbers' predictions kill shows by influencing large numbers of viewers to stop watching* them are pretty routine in our comments, Harry's Law executive producer Bill D'Elia thinks we're a lot more powerful than we actually are too!

*Conveniently ignored by the claimants is the fact that we make our predictions *after* the low ratings are in, and the adults 18-49 viewers that advertisers pay for have *already* stopped watching. Where's the hate for the critics who tell people to not watch in *advance*?

Update: italics added above for the particularly sensitive.

  • Misha Lauenstein

    I am so upset that you guys made the network cancel Pan Am when they were clearly planning to renew it the whole time.


  • Anthony Parello (AP076)

    The way I think about the ratings thing is there is a whole planet of people out there who watch TV shows.

    There is maybe a small continent of people who are even passingly aware (weekly listings in newspapers and magazines) of ratings in general.

    There is maybe a small city of people who follow the ratings as closely as TVBTNs readers do.

    But only a couple of city blocks of people who stop actually watching TV shows because of ratings.

    And none of those on those blocks are a Neilsen family whose viewership is measured anyway.

  • Vanquished

    I won’t lie, I stopped watching Alcatraz mid-season because of your prediction. I’m not gonna invest my time into a slow moving show like that one if its gonna get cancelled after 1 season.

    Not to mention that everyday viewers don’t actually affect ratings. Just those tracked. And if I were tracked… I’d have kept watching it, as well as keeping current with The Finder.

  • Misha Lauenstein

    How many Nielsen viewers read this site anyway? They’re the only ones that matter, of course it’s not allowed for a TV person to say that or they will get slapped, but we can talk about it.

    So of the few Nielsen viewers who come here, how many of them are mentally infirm enough to stop watching a show for the sole reason that OTHER people are not watching the show. An even smaller number.

    And of all viewers, a Nielsen viewer would be LEAST likely to bail on a favourite show, because they actually know that they are being counted and would do everything they could to keep the numbers up.

    Also, I never would have watched Gunsmoke if I knew they were going to cancel it.

  • JC

    @ Bill & Robert

    I dont want to get invested in a show and then the plug gets pulled. Imagine reading a book and loving every page and then someone walks up and takes the book away.

    NBC are the kings of the half-read book.

  • DGS

    The problem with Harry’s Law wasn’t TVBTN, it’s the direction the show took. It went from a quirky dramedy to a full-on legal procedural that took itself far too seriously.

  • Jeff (Canada)

    I think executives are mad at sites like TVbtN because this site deals in cold hard facts, not here-say or rumours. PR departments must hate this site, because unlike them, who only report on positive numbers, this site reports on EVERYTHING, and let’s the viewers/readers decide for themselves.

    That’s why I respect this site. Unlike (say, for example) the people over at ABC who might claim “Body of Proof gained in its timeslot with females year-over-year by 30%!”, TVbyN would report it as saying “This is the rating it got, it was either up or down from last week, and it finished ___th place for the night. Take from it what you will.” There’s no way ABC could trick people into watching by using just that.

  • Robert Seidman

    @JC, no, it’s not like that. It’s more like you’re saying you won’t watch the first in a series of movies (say Star Wars) or read the first in a series of books (say Harry Potter) until the last movie/book of the series is finished, and if for any reason the last movie or book is never made, you won’t ever watch/read the first.

    I’d have been fine if the Star Wars movies ended with the Empire Strikes Back. I thought EMPIRE was a great movie in its own right and enjoyed it a lot without knowing how the trilogy finished.

  • JC

    @ Robert, that would be fine if shows were stand alone, but most of them have subpolts. An example would be Carrie’s sister’s murder on Unforgettable, or the growing relationship between Willa and Leo on Finder. So yeah, you have the “crime of the week” to enjoy each week, but you have lost out on the time investing on the character development.

  • JC

    I need to add though, that as much as I like the info on this site, it has never influenced my decision to watch or not watch a show. I have just become so jaded that I will record the show for a few weeks to make sure it is going to stick around.

  • Nick

    I actually agree with him. I stopped watching Up All Night because I thought it was going to be cancelled, but it ended up being renewed, and now I feel like an idiot. I think TVBTN does give the negative prognosis after the ratings are in, but overall, it is negative media press that makes viewers not watch a show. From your “ratings prediction” polls to bad reviews, the overall sentiment can be extremely negative before a show even airs. If people think the ratings will be bad, if people think the show will be bad, people are not going to watch it.

  • Tommy M.

    @ JC, keeping for Robert’s Star Wars analogy, We didn’t know that Luke and Leia were brother and sister until Return of the Jedi, but it still didn’t make Empire Strikes back a movie that wasn’t awesome in it’s own right.

  • Harris

    @Robert To be fair, it’s not necessarily L&O’s fault, I just feel like there are two hundred thousand shows just like it, and I have literally zero interest in any of them. I mean L&O itself has had about 480 spin-offs, hasn’t it? The issue isn’t really with L&O itself; it’s mostly just with the general notion of legal/police procedurals. I would say something like Bones is enough of a twist on the premise to make me accept it. Certainly something like White Collar is different enough that I am okay with it, and in-fact a fan of that show. Also, I tend to, for the most part, find procedurals, comedies, etc. to have lower quality and more shallow storytelling and character development than episodic scripted dramas, and that’s what I am most interested in when I watch a show.

  • SteveO

    I mean, I have stopped watching the shows due to declining ratings, but not because of the renewal/cancellation predictions. But I guess those go hand-in-hand.

  • HotLatino4GayMarriage

    I don’t watch shows when they premiere, I wait for the ratings andvif it flopped, I don’t watch (Awake,The Firm, etc). If I like a show and it gets awful ratings, I stop watching to avoid heartbreak LOL (Ringer, Melrose Place), if I LOVE a show, I watch till the end regardless if low ratings (Ugly Betty, CT -thanks TBS-)

  • Flame

    Mixed feelings here. I thought last season’s Mad Love was a hoot and a half, and you could say I played the “It’s not a good idea to have this show as the only original in a sea of repeats” Fan Excuse Bingo square. But I stuck to the show until the end. The cliffhanger-y end.

    This season there was the case of Hart of Dixie. I was on the bubble of starting with the show, but thought, why get involved if the ratings are that low and the show has a good probability of getting canceled. Thank goodness there are ways of catching up since I’m watching it now that it got renewed. (And will most likely stick with it till the end.)

    Then again, nobody cares what I watch, since I’m not in a Nielsen family.

  • scifi

    With every new such story I more and more wanna to follow this producer. :)

  • BruSimm

    “use the force” Bill!!! And who really is your father Bill???

    You can control all of network TV with all that negative after-spin!

    Really… is that responsible time-melded viewer manipulation? Maybe this is like that show where something bad would happen, and the govt. would send someone back 7 days to fix it!!! OK, sorry, I’m done having my fun with this one.


  • gene

    That tweet reads like a troll. Also, you “fuel belief”, & “influence” viewers, to self-fulfil your “prophecies”? Upgraded from annoying website, to cult (apparently)… Impressive! (You should read that last word in a Darth Vader voice btw, LOL)

  • HotLatino4GayMarriage

    @Robert It would have been awful to read HP1-6 without HP7 Lol :S

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