‘Save Jericho’: Why Ratings Are Not Jericho’s Friend

While I’ve been turning very quickly onto the positive side of the ‘Save Jericho’ campaign, this doesn’t mean that I have shied away from being critical or certain aspects of it. My criticism is an attempt to keep this campaign grounded, if you will, without losing sight of CBS’ flawed, yet substantiated, standpoint on this issue. It is for this reason that I must object to a recent list being posted as a way of supporting Jericho that I came across this weekend.

“For the first week of May, Jericho had more viewers than the following shows…

Family Guy
Simpsons
American Dad
Medium
The Entire NBC Thursday Comedy Lineup
How I Met Your Mother
New Adventures of Old Christine
ER
The Unit
Dateline
20/20
America’s Funniest Home Videos
Notes From the Underbelly
All the Law and Order shows

All these shows renewed, Jericho canceled.”

Now, as some have said, this is a very simple message that could be incredibly powerful…if it were not for the fact that parts of it are outright lies, it all ignores scheduling realities, and fails to recognize that CBS is an inherently different network than the others. It is an over-simplified list that only dilutes and weakens the complexity of the campaign. This campaign is trying to fight against traditional ratings barometers; this list accepts them, and puts key goals of the campaign in jeopardy. With tomorrow’s big New York City rally being planned, I would hate to see this campaign run off the rails with something this simple.

The Lies

According to PIFeedback, the first week of May (April 29th – May 5th) saw Jericho earn the following ratings:

8.16 Million Viewers

2.2/7 in Adults 18-49

These are well below its season average, especially in the 18-49 demographic. However, this list is dealing only with total viewers, so let’s go by that figure with three other shows that are on this list.

The Unit – 9.75 Million Viewers

Law & Order – 8.93 Million Viewers

Law & Order: Special Victims Unit – 11.1 Million Viewers

And yet, all three of these are on this list of shows with less viewers than Jericho. Even if they mean the first full week of May, that of Jericho’s finale, all three of these shows performed better that week as well.

Something that gets reposted across the internet needs to be based on fact: CBS can just look at this statement and laugh at it when it isn’t even factual. And that’s a problem.

The Ignorance

I am not insinuating that the creator of the list is ignorant, but rather that they chose to create a list that was ignorant of a few things.

For example, America’s Funniest Home Videos is on the list. It airs Sundays at 7pm. That timeslot has MUCH lower ratings standards than a primetime mid-week timeslot. Also, AFHV consistently won its timeslots in key demos against older-skewing 60 Minutes. That is a strong performing show by its standards.

Similarly, the list includes two news-magazines (NBC’s Dateline and ABC’s 20/20). These are prestige programs designed to boost their respective news divisions and cheaply fill holes in their schedule with seemingly high-class reporting. They are not judged by the same merits as fictional primetime television, and using them here just seems like the list is in need of padding.

Ratings analysis isn’t something that you can just pad with shows that will never be judged in the same way. Going indepth on any of these options, it is easy to spot examples that just don’t make any sense.

The Demographics

Look, I know that the campaign is built on the idea of the Nielsen system being outdated, but in the writing of this list that very system is being used as evidence for the show’s cause. As a result, since it is admitting to the Nielsen system being a barometer for a show’s success in comparison with others, it is impossible to ignore the Adults 18-49 Ratings which is included with every daily ratings report.

And by that rating, almost all of these shows defeated Jericho. This includes America’s Funniest Home Videos. This includes ER. This includes all of NBC’s Thursday Comedy Lineup. It even includes ABC’s lowly rated Notes from the Underbelly.

It is for this reason that this list shouldn’t be used: it gives CBS too much cannon fodder to fire back. Not only does it contain outright lies and an ignorance to the nature of a number of the programs, but it also legitimizes the ratings system that this campaign is really fighting against. Once you admit that these ratings are valid, the demographic ratings are also valid and do not work, and will never work, in Jericho’s favour.

The other shows on this list were renewed because of high 18-49 numbers, something which Jericho did not have. Others were renewed because the networks who aired them were more desperate than CBS. And, in some cases, they were renewed because they performed better in every way.

We can talk about its tough competition, its hiatus, or anything else that screwed it over, but that’s all in direct opposition to its ratings. This campaign cannot defeat CBS by pulling out a ruler and measuring up: Jericho will lose out every time by their measurements. What you’re really arguing for is a new form of measurement, a new unit that reflects Jericho’s true success.

And this list is regressive to that goal, as well-intentioned as it is.

8 Comments

Filed under Jericho, Ratings, Television

8 responses to “‘Save Jericho’: Why Ratings Are Not Jericho’s Friend

  1. Hawksdomain

    Bravo and very well put.

    NUTS to CBS!!

  2. Yeah baby! They didn’t count me! I watched the entire series on Innertube. How many others were left off the “tally?” The current ratings system is flawed. That IS a valid point. Jericho stand on its own qualities and its real viewership (which CBS declined to use for some reason).
    The Nielson ratings…1 viewer equals 40,000 viewers. Wow, now that’s interesting mathematics. If you still have not yet seen the show, go to CBS.com click on shows and watch the entire season on-line for free! Save Jericho!

  3. Mike

    i agree. the show kept me goin through all the episodes and being a college student, being in a relationship and working nights i always made room for the show and cbs is wrong on all accounts. bring it back!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!111111

  4. James

    Thank you for reminding us, that we are falling into a CBS trap by using rating. The ratings are flawed as any common sensed person can see. So CBS you say your a brave thinker. Disregard normal rankings and listen to your viewers.

  5. I would like to expand on this.

    Think of this as a “court of public opinion”

    1) If we use ratings as a lynchpin in the case to bring back Jericho, then we are playing on CBS’s chosen field.

    2) Everyone knows that there are lies, dam* lies, and statistics 🙂 CBS will use the numbers to make a great case for itself. We will use the numbers to make a great case for ourselves.

    3) At the end of the day, which side will make the better case?
    A) If we are fully confident that we can out spin CBS, OR if there is no better avenue to persue, then we need to continue pushing ratings data.
    B) If there is significant doubt that we can out spin CBS on the data, OR if there are stronger ways to make our case, then the ratings data are best avoided, or only used as a counter point.

    To be honest, Nielsen is taking a pounding right now: http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20070528/ap_en_tv/tv_sneaky_ads;_ylt=AiRyPL5eW9Lwbcz96lUl8d4E1vAI

    I think that the best use of the rating data is NOT in comparing Jericho to other shows.

    I think the best use of the data is to compare Jericho against itself. Meaning, that the Nielsen numbers simply don’t match well with reality. Compare Nielsen numbers to petition numbers, pounds of peanuts, the volume of threads and posts about Jericho, total Google hits about Jericho, number of websites and blogs about Jericho, etc.

    If we use Nielsen numbers to compare shows to shows, then we legitimize the Nielsen system 🙂

    If we use Nielsen numbers against other matrices, then we discredit Nielsen.

    If we discredit Nielsen, then we kill CBS’s case cold.

    A very excellent post and analysis by Memles. Thank you for your continued contribution to Saving Jericho!

  6. Ken Bittner

    I agree that Jericho’s ratings were down in the month of May. But if I recall correctly, weren’t they higher in the first half of the season? I believe they were quite competitive with the other shows in their time slot. I think it was after the hiatus that the ratings went down. And some of those weeks they were going directly against Idol.

  7. Pingback: The Bitch Girls :: Jericho Probably Not Coming Back in Any Form?

  8. Niall

    The real reason it was censored, sorry, cancelled, was because it was getting far too close to truths uncomfortable to the Establishment. A narrative where a conspiracy of insider spooks and corporations attacks the US, blames it on foreigners and institutes a police state/martial law regime simply could not be allowed to continue while the Bush govt was harnessing 9/11 for plundering the Middle East and American taxpayers…

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