Typing Faster

March 26, 2010

More On Hiatuses

Filed under: Flash Forward, Future of TV, Kvetch, Lost, Stuff I Like, the biz, V — petertypingfaster @ 11:37 am

Following up on my post here I figured I’d link to another article that talks about the problems with serialized shows and hiatuses.

Serialized TV shows are a double-edged sword.

In success they can be compelling, edge-of-your-seat appointment viewing for fans who hang on every development. But in failure they can become a network’s albatross — a twisty, continuing mystery that demands commitment even when viewers have lost interest.

That’s the nature of serialized dramas. They’re high risk, but high reward. If you manage to really lock in an audience, the majority of them will stick around for the long haul. It’s these types of properties that sell extremely well on DVD, as well as enjoying success on other platforms. The fans are passionate enough about the series that they’ll follow it anywhere.

The risk comes from the fact that it’s so hard to hook them initially, and even if you manage to hook them there’s no guarantee that they’ll stick around if the show runs into trouble. If the show goes on a long hiatus then there’s even less chance that the audience will return.

Here are three examples:

1) ABC’s FlashForward, which got a splashy push last summer, premiered strongly with 12.5 million viewers in September. But slow pacing led fans to tire quickly, two top producers exited, and by early December, its audience faded. When the show returned last week after three months off, just 6.5 million showed up.

2) NBC’s Heroes is a case study on how the hottest show can collapse. A writers strike in late 2007 forced an abrupt end to its second season and a nine-month gap to a third. That, combined with what critics saw as runaway plotlines, led to a ratings collapse. Last month, the series ended what’s most likely its final season with one-fourth of its peak audience.

3) CW’s Gossip Girl returned from a three-month absence March 8 with a record-low 1.7 million viewers, though the teen soap has already been renewed for a fourth season.

The audience is a fickle beast, and with so many emerging media options vying for their attention you’re better off not giving them any excuse to leave.

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