The New York Times is at it again, singing the praises of the benefits of DVR viewing for struggling shows.  Only Fringe is really named as an example where that’s actually happened (according to Fox executives), and it’s funny to see the story  just days after record low preliminary ratings for Fringe, and what will likely be record low Live+7 ratings as well.  The notion that Fox might have gotten a sweetheart of a deal isn’t even considered, which seemed odd especially considering the early renewal and the full season order.

The story cites Fringe’s OK ratings with a week’s worth of DVR viewing in and how the average is very good for a Friday, but neglects to note that over the last couple of weeks Live+7 info is available for Fringe, it had slipped below the average by 0.3, even in the live plus seven numbers and trailing shows like The Chicago Code in Live+7 ratings.

But I’ll leave it to others to decide whether that’s just another case of  network PR pulling the wool over Bill Carter’s eyes.  What really caught my eye was the wonderful (if anonymous) quote the article ends with:

Of course even with all that recalibration, there has to be room for a little personal privilege. A senior executive from one television production studio, who asked not to be named because of the need to be able to sell shows to the network program heads, said, “They will read the numbers and then they will secretly try to find the justification to renew the shows they love and cancel the ones they don’t.”

Variations of “ratings be damned, networks will renew shows they love and cancel shows they don’t” sometimes appear in our blog comments.  While little surprises me these days, I was surprised that it sounded even crazier coming from a studio executive than when it shows up in the comments.

I especially liked how he added “secretly” to season it with a bit of conspiracy.  Sounds like he’s produced some shows that networks didn’t love…and much more importantly, that the viewers didn’t love either.

I guess if The Chicago Code and/or Lie to Me wind up canceled even with better live plus seven numbers than Fringe, that won’t convince The New York Times that the Live+7 numbers just don’t matter much. Instead they can say, “Fox just loves Fringe and doesn’t love those other shows!”

Posted by:TV By The Numbers

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