Variety: No More 'Jesse Stone' Movies For CBS

Categories: 1-Featured,Broadcast TV

Written By

May 25th, 2012

Variety is reporting that Jesse Stone: Benefit of the Doubt will be the last of the Jesse Stone movies produced for CBS.

Our readers know that the Jesse Stone movies typically draw audiences of over 10 million viewers, but with tiny adults 18-49 ratings. Benefit of the Doubt on May 20 drew 12.93 million viewers, but just a 1.2 adults 18-49 rating.

The producer expressed surprise to Variety that "CBS was so wedded to those [younger] demographics".

I'm expressing surprise that the producer was expressing surprise. Are the economics of broadcast primetime television unknown to him?

But considering our recent encounters with TV producers, perhaps I shouldn't be quite so surprised.

 
  • Ultima

    @Gary A
    The trouble with the focus on demos instead of viewers and syndication over popularity is what has ruined network television

    I think you’ll find plenty of people who think that popularity is ruining network television, because “trash” like American Idol dominates, while “smart,” “quality” shows without mass appeal are canceled. In their minds, networks basing decisions off of total viewership would still be destructive.

    Then there’s other people who don’t think that network television has even been ruined in the first place and think that it’s silly that people go through such efforts to find an explaination for something that never happened.

    Networks used to compete against each other.

    They still do. Survivor & CSI against NBC Must See TV, Grey’s against CSI, and NCIS against Idol being some of the most successful counter-programming moves of the past ten years or so.

    So instead of programming for the largest audience and still maintaining an excellent demo the networks hold onto low viewed shows that do okay in the demo ( not great ) because they are pandering to a small faction of the whole audience.

    It sounds like you’re suggesting that if networks would just go for total viewers, that excellent demos would come along for the ride. Harry’s Law is a perfect illustration that it doesn’t work like that.

  • Freddy Arrow

    @Gary A

    “The trouble with the focus on demos instead of viewers and syndication over popularity is what has ruined network television…”

    Before any of your other points, you need to explain how network television is ruined. I’m old enough where I’ll be out of the demo soon, but I think network television is better than its ever been. I watch more television now than I ever have. I guess that’s a sign that I’ll be out of the demo soon and not sought after by the advertisers.

    Movies still do well because there’s only 1 to 3 major releases each week, just as its been for a long time. In television, on the other hand, there are 100’s of choices (not to mention other home viewing options) instead of just 3 networks and a few local stations. Also, measuring by money made rather than viewers (which I don’t necessarily have a problem with), makes modern movies look more popular than they really are. Adjusted for inflation, Avatar is the only movie from the last decade to make the top 25:

    http://boxofficemojo.com/alltime/adjusted.htm

  • Herb

    The old people don’t buy stuff. Who’s going to pay for ad time for a bunch of people that don’t shop.

  • Monkey

    CBS aren’t going to drop a show that skews older in and of itself. But if they aren’t making money of it, it’ll be gone. I think people forget television is a business, not a charity. And while I understand why showrunners forget this, and fans, it doesn’t change the bottom line.

  • Monkey

    Let me explain why the 18-49 demo is the most important to advertisers – and no it isn’t because they are the hardest to reach. First; they have the most disposable income.
    Second: they have the most ‘firsts’ – ie: first home, child, family, car etc.
    Another possibility that has. Een hypothesised is they are the most impressionable, making the advertising more successful.

    Remember, in reality TV shows are there to simply sell the advertisements, not the other way around.

    Now, at the upfronts networks sell their shoes to advertisers. These are sold in time blocks, as in 7 – 9 on Monday. They can also be sold for individual shows. These time blocks and/or shows are sold in a specific demographic. Sometimes its the 18-25 males or so on. Now the network promises, for example, 500,000 people of hat demo will watch the show/black. If this doesn’t happen networks have to do something called ‘make do’. This means they give *free* advertising space to those advertisers which means they loose money. When TV shows start loosing money they are canceled. When blocks don’t work they’re shaken up (or even sometimes canceled). Now networks can loose millions of dollars making do when shows, no matter how subjectively good people find them, are not performing. If networks kept those shows on the air just to make fans happy, networks wont be around long to offer any shows.

    It’s also importannt to note those shows hat perform best in the overall 18-49 demographic also sell the most on iTunes, are the most watched and Hulu and Netflix and have the most DVD sales which make them objectively more profitable.

  • Freddy Arrow

    @Monkey

    “Let me explain why the 18-49 demo is the most important to advertisers – and no it isn’t because they are the hardest to reach. First; they have the most disposable income.”

    While I agree that advertisers (and by proxy, networks) more or less only care about the 18-49 demo, It is NOT because they have more disposable income. According to this article, over 50’s have 30% more disposable income than those under 50:

    http://www.research-live.com/engaging-thoughts/4004665.bloglead?tagcode=108|research%20processes

    I would think common sense would tell you that the 50-59 demo has quite a bit more money to spend than the 18-24 demo.

  • Monkey

    @Freddy Arrow – that article, while potentially correct, is devoid of any real information – ie: what research? – to be taken as 100% accurate. And while I may not objectively disagree, advertisers still believe the 18-49 have the greater spending power and are likely to be more frivolous with their purchasing (giving the idea, right or wrong, of more disposable income). They are also more likely to respond to advertisements – including product placements.

  • JJ

    I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again: The Nielsen Ratings system is antiquated and obsolete. They need to come up with something better. How do they even know how old people are who are watching? I know they don’t know how old I am, and I watch the Jesse Stone movies (I fall into the 18-49 bracket, BTW).

  • danielcw

    @JJ: Nielsen knows the age of every person in their sample.

  • Monkey

    @JJ as was said, if you have a box they know your age, gender, socio-economic status, race etc. not just yours but everyone who lives in your house. If you don’t have a box, or fill out a diary, what you watch isnt measured.

    And the system may be antiquated (its really not, but whatever), but every show is measured the same. It’s an equal playing field and everything lives and dies by it, so it’s still fair.

  • Gary A

    In response:

    The pandering to the demo has led to the proliferation of the reality/music competition/etc. type shows. They are extremely popular with the demo AND total viewers in many cases. This leads to more riffs on the same theme only not as good and usually not as popular. Because they are cheaper and can usually grab some attention ( at least at first ) from the younger demo, networks are more prone to schedule more of them ( and don’t forget they are ultimately cheaper ).

    Yes, there are many well produced, intelligent series on the air today. But how many are on network tv and how many are on pay services or cable channels? And how many do well on network television? Maybe it’s because I’m old – er or I went to school for television, but I can think of really great series dating back to the 60’s and up thru the 90’s that in todays market wouldn’t make it. And not because they are old shows. How many network series, currently on the air, will be considered classics in twenty years time – and not because of their popularity which doesn’t reflect quality?

    Maybe networks compete in a certain way but not in the way that I refer to. Yes, Survivor goes against American Idol, etc. but take this example – at 10:00 on Tuesday, the series that won the time period ( Unforgettable ) was canceled by CBS while Parenthood and Body of Proof were both renewed. I know CBS has done better and thus shows with decent enough demos and strong audience base still have to be cut because they are successful I think shows my point. Or how about Thursdays – NBC continues to show niche comedies that are low in the demo and low in viewers.

    Recently ABC aired Missing – started out mid 1’s in the demo with around 8 million viewers. Ended in the sweeps mind you with about the same rating demo as The Vampire Diaries but with 6 million more viewers. There’s a place on the air for one but not the other?? How about Harry’s Law? yes, it sucked demo wise for NBC. But it drew 8 million viewers. Now take Supernatural on the CW. It has for the most part pulled a 0.7 or 0.8 all season with barely 2 million viewers. Explain, without using the CW is special because they are a net-let and not a network because they still have affiliates and are subject to having to please them, why one show has a place on network televison and the other doesn’t? If HL had been on the CW, it would have been their 2nd most watched show and their most viewed series. Of course, HL wouldn’t be on the CW because the CW is for young and pretty people only.

    I have never suggested or said that the networks should focus only on total viewers. That’s absurd. What I have said and if you check the season charts you will see I’m accurate is that most every show that does well in the demo alos does well in total audience as well. Meaning: broad based general appeal. Usually only 5 or 6 shows appear on 1 chart and not the other ( in the top 25 ). And that is what the point about demos – who’s watching a show as opposed to just how many are watching became important. It was to level the playing field that shows that weren’t mass appeal hits could still be hits to a target audience.

    Just some thoughts and opinions and a few facts.

  • teevee time

    Bottom line: despite the flaws in the ratings system, perceived or imagined, this is what is used by all networks and ad agencies.
    We’re all stuck with it.

  • Tony Bracket

    Don’t forget that this is the network that had the luxury of cancelling “Unforgettable” – a show that was consistently in the top 20 (usually the top 15). I’m just wondering what the networks are going to do when all the baby boomers are in their 60’s 10 years from now? Who do they think buys the grandkids the new cell phone?

  • Tony Bracket

    However, with the above comment stated, I think that CBS had more to do with cancelling Jesse Stone movies because it’s confusing to see the Chief of Police of New York on Friday Nights (Blue Bloods) and then seeing him switch to another Chief of Police. CBS has both shows – has anyone even considered this?

  • teevee time

    No, we haven’t.

  • Ultima

    @Tony Bracket
    I think that CBS had more to do with cancelling Jesse Stone movies because it’s confusing to see the Chief of Police of New York on Friday Nights (Blue Bloods) and then seeing him switch to another Chief of Police. CBS has both shows – has anyone even considered this?

    No, because no one would be dumb enough to think that.

  • Monkey

    @Gary A, you’re ignoring that different channels have different ideas of food or bad. CE doesn’t rate well, period. The fact that a show on CW survives has nothing to do with the performance of a show on another network.

    You brought up Missing, a how that was filmed ALL OVER EUROPE. It cost a damned fortune, which means it had to perform well. The show was an epic failure. ABC had to offer serious make do’s to advertisers. Why would they keep a show like that around, it wa expensive and NOT well received.

    The fact is there is a lot of good TV out there, even on networks. The arguments that reality TV is ruining TV is ridiculous and trite. There is more airtime then ever before, more slots to fill and yes some of it is going to talent shows and other reality – because people want to watch it – but not all of it. The fact that you’re not enjoying all the shows out there is subjective, it doesn’t speak to quality.

    As for peeps complaining about CBS canceling Unforgettable, I speak as someone who liked the show – compared to the rest of the shows on the. Etwork it was an underperformer. CBS had to clear the way for new shows so the underperformers had to leave. Once again, remember folks this is a business.

  • 728huey

    You brought up Missing, a how that was filmed ALL OVER EUROPE. It cost a damned fortune, which means it had to perform well. The show was an epic failure. ABC had to offer serious make do’s to advertisers. Why would they keep a show like that around, it wa expensive and NOT well received.

    You could have also added Terra Nova to your list. This was another ridiculously expensive show to produce, but it premiered with a 3.0 rating (not bad, but not great considering how much the show cost), and it ended somewhere around 2.2, which became far too expensive for FOX to keep on their schedule. I think even NBC would have canceled this show with those type of numbers because the production cost wouldn’t have justified those numbers.

    BTW, I’m surprised at all of the comments on this thread, especially those strictly about the business of the ratings system, demos, and ad buys. It’s obvious that people are either passionate about their favorite programs, their particular demographic group, or the shortcomings of the ratings system and/or perceived assumptions of the buying habits of particular demographic groups. (BTW, I haven’t seen any of the Jesse Stone movies, but I’m not going to disparage anyone who has seen them and/or are huge fans; everyone is entitled to their own favorite programming.) I’m in agreement that the current ratings system is most definitely not perfect, but no one else has been able to come up with a better system yet. Until that happens, we are going to be stuck at the mercy of the 18-49 demo group.

  • ToXiX

    CBS is far from stupid. They know what they’re doing, unlike NBC.

  • KennethRay

    Tom, wherever you decide to go, I will watch for “JESSE STONE’s” next caper.

    Kenneth Ray

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