On Monday when Fox canceled Terra Nova and 20th Century Fox Television (the producing studio) said it planned to shop the show to other networks, I suggested that it might make more sense for the “save our show” crazy faithful fans to send their plastic dinosaurs to Netflix rather than Syfy. But I mostly meant that in the “now that DirecTV is out of the save a low-rated canceled show business, let’s ask Netflix!” sense.

Tonight the TV-related interwebs are embracing “Will Netflix Save Terra Nova” nonsense. The premise itself isn’t nonsensical,  but the Deadline.com story noting that Netflix and 20th Century Fox TV ” have been in talks about keeping the pre-historic drama alive” is a bit wacky. If you read a little further it seems like “have been in talks” might have merely meant that Netflix didn’t laugh hysterically and then hang up when 20th TV called. It’s sad to see the once proudly snarky Deadline.com come off like an E! Online-style site that panders to fans, even ending the story with the line “Keep the faith, fans…”

What irked me most about the article though wasn’t the fan pandering, it was this:

It would make a sense for Terra Nova, a Top 10 DVR gainer, to get a second life on a streaming service like Netflix. During its freshman run, the series‘ 18-49 rating grew on average 44% in Live+7 vs. Live+Same day.

I understand how someone would make that leap. Just like I understand the leap made all the time by our commenters that “NBC should just pick up CBS’s canceled shows because CBS’s lowest-rated shows would be among NBC’s highest-rated!” Sadly for NBC in that example, that assumes that the shows would maintain the ratings they had on CBS once they moved to NBC. Even NBC knows the odds of that happening are 0.

Fortunately, since Netflix doesn’t sell ads that doesn’t matter much, but the notion that the Live+7 percentage increase over Live+SD should matter to Netflix is goofy. By that metric Terra Nova’s 44% is hardly better than Ringer (43%), Harry’s Law (42%) or Pan Am (41%). In the absolute Terra Nova had more DVR viewing than those shows, but Terra Nova’s ratings weren’t awful, they just weren’t good enough for what it was costing Fox.

Should Fringe be canceled , its fans will love Deadline’s logic: Fringe adds a whopping 66% to its Live+SD rating once the full 7 days are counted.  Projecting the intersection of cost & benefit for Netflix is tricky but I’d guess Fringe would make much more sense for Netlix if it’s canceled than Terra Nova does.

The Deadline story also notes that Netflix has already saved one canceled show produced by 20th Century Fox Television — Arrested Development.  But there are at least two big differences the story doesn’t note. Arrested Development needs far fewer new episodes than Terra Nova to get enough episodes where stripped syndication would  be viable.  Perhaps more importantly, Netflix already had a very good idea about how many of its subscribers cared about Arrested Development since it had been available on Netflix streaming for quite a while before the deal for new episodes was struck.

Posted by:TV By The Numbers

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