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…
The Entire NBC Thursday Comedy Lineup
How I Met Your Mother
New Adventures of Old Christine
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.
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.
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.
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.