It’s been a while since I have done a discussion post, so please bare with me in case I am a little rusty or all over the place. It’s just that I have noticed an awful trend in television lately that I would like to discuss with you.
Over the course of the last week, a lot of shows that were beloved to many (especially in the online community that I am part of) were cancelled by their respective networks or put on the bubble, which means that there is no decision about renewal or cancellation yet. I understand that network television bases their decisions on ratings of the live screenings first and foremost. As much as TV may be entertainment for the viewers, it is still a business for the people who produce the content. However, the system is quite antiquated and answer me this: Who still tunes in live to watch their favourite show?
I guess I should start with the simple fact that I do not live in the US or Canada and therefore cannot watch shows live either way. There is no same-day-release for TV shows, as everything usually goes through the process of (terrible) dubbing before people even consider putting it on German/Austrian TV. Therefore it could take months or longer until a show makes it over the pond to us. And even when it finally does, should the show become a surprise hit here, I don’t think international sales for TV rights really play into the decision making process of the networks.
Second, there are so many streaming services and especially the younger generations have gotten used to getting their content all at once and at least in my circle of friends over the internet. We do have a TV at my home, but it is monopolized by my parents and I have very little say in what we are watching, so I just use my laptop for everything. I know that you can watch via the official website of a lot of networks, but only if you are in the right region. I honestly do not know if those online views matter much to the networks. I think they should, but I often feel like they don’t. So, where does that leave people like me who spend most their days in front of a screen but not the traditional one? People who are very passionate about a show but have no control whatsoever about the number of views?
Well, to counteract those (in our eyes) unjust cancellations, a lot of fans have turned to social media to fight for their shows. From what I personally saw, they were especially vocal when it came to shows like Brooklyn Nine-Nine, Lucifer, Timeless and Sense8, even though I am sure it happens for a lot more shows. In some cases, it worked and the show got another season or got picked up by a different network. In other cases, however, it didn’t have an effect or not the lasting one the audience might have wished for.
I want to take the example of Timeless for this discussion post. Last year, the ratings for Timeless apparently weren’t very good, so NBC cancelled it, just to take that cancellation back after two days because the fans were really vocal about their disappointment. Everyone was, of course, really happy about that, but as you may imagine, that didn’t change the ratings for the new season much. After all, there was still the same fan base. Maybe the media attracted a couple new viewers due to the coverage of the whole cancellation drama, but it did not help a lot. In fact, due to a bad slot at 10 PM on Sundays, even though it should have aired earlier, the ratings even went down. The creators of the show did some of their best work in this second season and had a banger finale with a huge cliffhanger that rocked the fans’ worlds. Still, now there is the same discussion as last year and the show is on the brink of cancellation once more.
I just would like to know what the point of me/us fighting for the show is if we have to do the same over and over again. Social ratings, meaning hashtags trending on Twitter or the likes, are very high for most of these cancelled shows. People are passionate about them and talk on social media a lot. In our very digital age, shouldn’t this weigh in more into the decision? Classic TV is outdated and in my humble opinion you simply cannot rely on live ratings anymore, especially if you want to entertain a younger audience, you need a lot more than that. Things are changing and the industry should change with them, because why do we have to do all the hard work of convincing these executives every single season?
So, lastly, I want to ask you some questions. Do you fight for your favourite shows online? Do you think it’s fair that you have to? Do you think there should be a new and more inclusive system considering global audiences and such? Let me know in the comments! I’d love to chat with you about it!