B5: Rangers - Letters to the sponsors

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Joseph DeMartino, Jan 28, 2002.

  1. Joseph DeMartino

    Joseph DeMartino Lead Actor

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    Well, the B5 franchise continues to have its usual luck. While Sci-Fi has been happy with the ratings of the B5 reruns, enough to spend over three million bucks on a new TV movie and "back-door pilot", they weren't so sure that the B5 fanbase would be that interested in new adventures in the B5 universe with new characters - that is, absent the "nostalgia factor" for the original.
    So for months the unofficial word from Sci-Fi is that they would heavily promote the Rangers movie, but that it would have be one of the top two or three rated TV movies they'd ever done to ensure a series order. The highest-rated of all was Dune with an unheard of (for Sci-Fi) 4.6 rating. The next highest was a pilot for another series (I forget which) which scored a 2.4 or 2.5. So they were basically shooting for a 2.6.
    The national ratings came in last week and the TV movie averged a 1.7
    Disaster, right?
    Well, not quite.
    First of all, the trendline for the ratings within the two hours was good. The audience increased every quarter hour, which means people joined the movie late, liked what they saw, and stuck around. (This by itself means nothing, since that is the pattern with most TV movies, and probably most series episodes. But at least the trendline wasn't down, which would indicate that people looked, hated it, and reached for the remote.)
    Then the individual market figures started coming in, and the mystery resolved itself. Rangers got buried by the NFL play-off game in markets that got the Sci-Fi Channel east coast feed. (Not surprising - there is a huge overlap in the heavily-male B5 demographic and the football demo.) But in markets that get the west coast feed, the movie did better than expected - a 3.2 among folks watching on Time-Warner Cable in San Diego, a 3.6 in at least one other market. So there was an audience for the movie that night - at least where it wasn't up against a live football game. [​IMG]
    The problem is that ad rates are based on the national average, and if Sci-Fi sold ads based on a promised minimum rating, they're likely going to have to run free ads for a lot of those sponsors as "make goods." This is apt to color their perceptions of Rangers. In any case it is likely that they're going to need more time than they expected to make a decision on a series. The ratings didn't give them the kind of clear-cut "go"/"no go" signal they were expecting.
    Why is this a good thing?
    It gives fans some time to act.
    In and of themselves, letter-writing campaigns do not get series made or saved. If a show is a ratings disaster a million letters are not going to make a difference. But if a show is borderline they can. If a network is faced with making (or cancelling) one of two shows, and all other factors are equal, the one that gets the big fan response is the likley winner. Provided we're talking about real snail-mail letters that people had to take time to write, print, stuff in an envelope and then pay to send. E-mail and on-line petitions are largely ignored, with all due respect to those who urge them on people. They make the fans feel better. They have virtually no effect on the decision makers.
    Some of us are organizing a letter-writing campaign, not only to the Sci-Fi Channel itself but to the companies that advertised during the TV movie. Here's the link. There you'll find hints on writing a letter, a description of the goals of the campaign and the logic of this approach and downloadable data files (in Excel and delimited ASCII formats) containing complete contact information for every national company that ran a commercial during the movie. Either file can be used with a word processor to create a single basic letter and then mail-merge it for multiple recipients.
    I urge anyone who would like to see a new B5 universe series to join the campaign. We still have a small window of opportunity to get our message across to the folks who will influence the final decision. This isn't the first time B5 has been on the brink of cancellation or not happening at all. It has always found a way to survive. Let's help it do so again.
    Faith manages,
    Joe
     
  2. Mark_Wilson

    Mark_Wilson Screenwriter

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    Why don't they just re-run it on a non-football night and see what type of ratings they get again?
     
  3. Joseph DeMartino

    Joseph DeMartino Lead Actor

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  4. Dave Scarpa

    Dave Scarpa Producer

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    Well Honestly what do these boneheads at the networks think? They schedule a expensive highly anticpated show on the same night as a major Playoff football game and they expect steller ratings? This is the same stupid scheduling that gets us: Smallville, Nypd Blue, 24, and the Gaurdian, all inthe same tuesday night timeslot. Gee Sci fi make Rangers into a series and put it on then. Then scratch your heads when the ratings dissapoint.
     
  5. Joseph DeMartino

    Joseph DeMartino Lead Actor

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