Here’s what I mean. You start watching a new series. You spend one or two or several hours watching a new show over the first weeks of the new TV season. You become invested in the story and the characters, and you actually look forward to each week’s new episode.
And then, the network suddenly pulls the show. It’s cancelled. Gone without a trace. No wrap-up of the story. It’s like watching a movie and after 20 minutes the theater turns on the lights and says it’s time to go. Or reading the first 75 pages of a book, only to find that pages 76 to 325 are blank and the book is out of print.
The start of the new TV season is nail-biting time for the networks. Millions of dollars are invested in new shows and commitments have been made to advertisers that those shows will draw a certain number of viewers.
Getting viewers to come back to a new show week after week is what the networks pray for. Actually, they do more than pray. They run ads and promotional campaigns to tout the shows they hope will draw big numbers.
And then an outside force interferes. The reviews come in, followed by viewership numbers. Soon the prognosticators start predicting which shows are in danger of getting canceled. The more sophisticated viewers – including those like me who’ve been burned by the networks before – see these stories and decide to defer watching shows that may be at risk. And that helps drive the low numbers even lower.
What we now do at home is graze, watching the first episode of shows that seem interesting. But then, as the ratings and reviews come in, we stop watching shows that may be at risk. We DVR them, and if they make it through the season, we’ll catch up or, if it’s really good, we’ll binge watch.
But no more watching shows that aren’t pulling strong ratings from the start. It’s just too risky. Our time is valuable. And our DVR is ready and waiting, if needed.