Jericho: The Numbers Game

The Adventures of Rocky & Bullwinkle.

Eight years after its release, this film is funnier, smarter, and more timely than ever.

In the movie, Rocky & Bullwinkle work with new FBI agent, Karen Sympathy (Piper Perabo) to prevent Rocky & Bullwinkle’s arch enemies, Fearless Leader (Robert De Niro), Natasha (Rene Ruso) and Boris (Jason Alexander), from accomplishing their dastardly plan to hypnotize America using RBTV (Really Bad Television), thus creating mindless human beings, which will allow Fearless Leader to go on TV and get everyone to vote for him as President of the United States of America.

I’ll focus on Fearless Leader’s tactics to get everyone to vote for him as President in another blog, but for this blog, my subject is RBTV (Really Bad Television or in today’s terms, Reality Bad Television) turning America into mindless human beings.

For some people, it wouldn’t matter what the programming was — simply because it airs on TV it is really bad television.

For me, I am not of that belief. Through the years I have enjoyed, laughed at or with, shed tears, and waited on the edge of my seat to find out who did what and to whom. Good storytellers have always made my life better. A good storyteller can teach me, entertain me, and/or take me out of my own life’s challenges for a short period of time so that I may either feel a reprieve or gain a new perspective.

I appreciate good storytellers.

That’s one of the reasons why I supported the writer’s strike.

That’s one of the reasons I am disappointed in CBS’s decision to cancel Jericho.

As I wrote in an earlier blog, during the writer’s strike I dove into the murky waters of Reality TV to see what could possibly be worth watching.


RBTV is a reality.

The majority of these reality shows left me numb, dumb, and with a bigger bum. My energy level dropped with each viewing. I actually began to feel depressed and a sense of lost hope in the American public.

Out of the large numbers — and I was surprised by how many are actually being aired — I did find a few that were worth watching, but only one in which the contestants/real people were truly inspiring and the show was/is educational (The Biggest Loser).

That said, what none of the reality shows do — even the ones I enjoy — is take me out of my own life and into a story the way a good book or a movie can. I never leave the viewing of a reality show feeling like I do when the credits of a good movie roll or when I close the back cover after having read the last page of a good book or when I watch the last scene of a weekly serial drama and am left on the edge of my seat wondering what will happen next week.

Close your eyes and remember the first time you saw the Wizard of Oz or the first time you watched it with your children.

Close your eyes and remember the feeling of the first time you saw a movie in a theater on a big screen.

Close your eyes and remember your favorite childhood cartoons.

Close your eyes and remember your favorite television shows when you were growing up.

There’s just something about the creativity of the arts that brings people together, that inspires them to new heights, that builds a community, and that can strengthen the collective spirit of a generation.

Reality TV does not hold any of these qualities or abilities.

And the long term numbers show that more people enjoy the creativity of the arts than they do reality TV.

According to Nielsen ratings…

from 1950 to the present, only 3 reality shows are listed as the top rated TV series during a specific year: Arthur Godfrey’s Talent Scouts (1951), Survivor (2000) and American Idol (2004 – 2007).

from 1964 to the present, the top 45 primetime telecasts do not include one episode of Reality TV.

from 1964 to the present, the top 3 network primetime telecasts of all time are MASH (the final episode), Dallas (Who Shot JR?) and Roots (finale).

…Superbowl’s 1982 and 1983 round out the top 5 network primetime telecasts of all time since 1964.

during a 38 year period, the American public has demonstrated its preference for storyline driven television.

Being a part the entertainment industry, I have always been amazed by how an industry that produces creativity on a daily basis functions on many levels with extraordinarily little creativity.

Maybe that’s because the most creative thinkers are rarely the top decision makers.

It’s not often that directors, creative producers, or actors become heads of studios or television networks. Tom Cruise is an exception to the rule.

Most often the people in the top positions are finance people or excellent deal making people. Most often the top people are numbers people.

And that’s what makes all of the numbers on Jericho so interesting.

According to the New York Daily News…

…as of March 8, 2008 the most downloaded television show on iTunes was Jericho.

…and absolutely none of the top 10 downloaded television shows were reality shows.

According to TiVo…

…for the week ending 3/23/08, Jericho is listed in the top 25 most recorded television shows.

…for the week ending 3/23/08, out of 25 television shows only 3 reality shows made it on the most downloaded list.

…for the week ending 3/23/08, America proved again that they prefer storyline driven television over reality TV.

…and America proved again that Jericho is one of their most favorite programs currently on air.

As an MBA, I believe with iTunes and TiVo being much more up to date systems for counting the accuracy of viewers, their numbers should hold, at least, equal value to those gathered by the standard methodology used by Nielsen.

According to The Conference Board…

…more consumers are watching broadcast TV online.

…as of October 15, 2007, more than 16% of American households were watching TV online.

…as of October 15, 2007, the number of American households watching entire episodes/shows online doubled from the previous year.

…as of October 15, 2007, Lynn Franco, Director of The Conference Board Research Center, the number of online television viewers is likely to increase.

…as of October 15, 2007, nearly 73 percent of online households use the Internet for entertainment purposes on a daily basis.

With all of these numbers in mind, I am confused by CBS’s cancelation of Jericho.
With the networks just having learned a HUGE lesson in the importance of downloaded material and television shows watched online, I am truly stumped by the “numbers” people at CBS.

During the very short period of time Jericho has had to find its land legs, the show has done remarkably well…

…after its first season (ONE SEASON), a rally cry like none other from all television viewers combined came about.

…after a long writer’s strike that disappointed and frustrated much of the television audience, Jericho came in as the #1 downloaded television show on iTunes.

…after a long writer’s strike that disappointed and frustrated much of the television audience, Jericho made it into the top 25 television shows recorded on TiVo.

Sometimes in business decisions need to be made based upon quality and long term.

Sometimes in business decisions need to be based upon long-term faith in people rather than short-term numbers in a book.

Sometimes in business decisions need to be made with courage and belief in a good product.

Sometimes in business decisions need to be made with the knowledge that all good things build with time.

Sometimes in business decisions need to be made by going back and reviewing the market over a long period of time.

Sometimes in business decisions need to be made based upon the value of the product offered to the consumer.

Sometimes in business this consumer needs for network television decisions to be made based upon the value of RGTV.

Really Good Television.

Jericho is really good television.


17 thoughts on “Jericho: The Numbers Game

  1. I love you! We Rangers tried over and over to get CBS’s attention with the same information, to no avail. We hope that CBS Paramount will sell Jericho to a new venue where 6-7 million live viewers and countless others will be appreciated.

  2. This was an excellent article, one I hope TPTB in CBS golden halls read. But I too have to agree with Gwen and say that our attention must be centered on finding Jericho a new home, where it will be appreciated for the quality tv it is. It is just a real shame that the one sure thing CBS had, they gave up based on bad research.
    Thank you for doing such a awesome write up for Jericho.

  3. Thank you for a wonderful insightful article!! I really think CBS is sinking faster than the Titanic as a leading network. After cancelling Jericho, the only Historical Promotional Advertising that they got from its passionate fan base in years, they decide to drop it in the can; Bad Move!! I guess they want to be branded as the network that promotes mindless reality shows and recycled procedurals!! Ho Hum, I know a smart cable channel will snatch this gem up with God knows how many millions of fans this fantastic show has. Thank you for bringing these statistics to light!

  4. Nuts to Nielsen –

    Great article on how all the onlive and dvr contradict what Nielsen is reporting. But heck – only 99.999% of TV are not being officially counted!

    If you feel uncounted…

    Get em here

    Send em here

    Shipping to:
    The Nielsen Company
    770 Broadway
    New York, NY 10003-9595
    United States
    phone: +1 646 654 5000

    IR Contact
    David Berger: +1 646 654 5057

    Tell em


    Uncounted Jericho fan

    P.S. Enjoy the nuts

  5. It seems these days that network head’s are short sighted. If they had been running the studios some of the best and longest running shows would not have made it past their first season. The networks are being pennywise and pound foolish. If they gave good shows time to truly get their legs they would gain huge audiences. Instead they cut and run looking for the bird in the bush instead of keeping the one in their hands. They will feel the pain of these decisions as they are less and less shows available for syndication. If they keep up their practices network television will become as obselete as analog televsion sets.

  6. Excellent article!! I wish more “numbers” people at the studio could understand it… sigh… I have been hooked on Jericho from Episode 1. I saw the trailer, checked it out on the very first night it aired, and have never looked back. Jericho is the most amazing show in the history of television (with the most amazing fans!) and I will not rest trying to find it another home until all efforts and avenues have been exhausted!!!

  7. It is so strange that everyone agrees – Jericho is a great show with a fantastic “cult” like following numbering in the millions (that they can count) and uncounted millions more – but it gets cancelled and Big Brother limps along to another season and CSI #999 comes back for a 10th season! They won’t count cable and sat boxes, but if I make a telephone call to Nancy Tellem, they will count that! Very strange.

    Thank you for setting the record straight. Now let’s take Jericho home . . . This isn’t Kansas anymore Dorothy — we are in the “Twilight Zone.”

    Very strange indeed.

  8. Thank you Penny! You are so on target. The suits at the networks need to wake up and understand that TV isn’t the only game in town any more. TiVo, DVRs, downloads, and streaming video are options that Nielsen doesn’t count but many of us use. Let’s hope someone can get it right, and get Jericho back on the air!

  9. “Sometimes in business decisions need to be made with courage and belief in a good product.

    Sometimes in business decisions need to be made with the knowledge that all good things build with time.

    Sometimes in business decisions need to be made by going back and reviewing the market over a long period of time.”

    Wow, Penny, are you living inside my head? That was beautiful. Thanks!!

  10. I LOVE the article, Penny! You summed up pretty much everything most of us have been thinking and feeling. A fantastic and witty read. 🙂

  11. Veryy nice article, well written and great research.

    Nielsen killed my Jericho, Again.

    We are not going to take this lying down.

    Family in Massachusetts

  12. Great article!! I have accepted that CBS has once again made a mistake and passed on Jericho. I have also accepted that I do not watch many of the currrently top rated programs on tv. It is just the way it is. I will help in any way I can to find a new home for Jericho, the best show out there by far!!

  13. Thanks Penny for the great article. I too hate to see what TV has become. I guess it is all about the money. Reality shows are much cheaper to produce than scripted shows like Jericho. What will TV be like a decade from now, when it is all reality. What depths will the network go to then to get people to watch…I shutter to think.

  14. Wow, I know I watched Jericho, but the Nielsen ratings never counted me. (State of SD)…. What a fantastic article! Nielsen ratings never concerned me, but since Jericho was canceled, well it does now, along with other 9 million viewers.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s