Earlier this week, USA
Today announced the results of its 15th annual "Save Our Show" poll, which
asked readers to name the broadcast network "on the bubble" primetime series
they would most like to see brought back.
It's an interesting idea on paper, but advertisers and media
agencies are right to hope the broadcast networks don't take this poll too much
to heart. The lower-rated shows that viewers often want to see return do not
offer marketers the mass audience needed to reach their prospective customers.
In fact, many of these shows are struggling to match the
viewership of myriad cable shows, even with the huge fragmentation of cable
audiences vs. broadcast.
Topping the USA Today
respondent list is NBC's Parks and
Recreation. Among 62,000 who answered the poll, 39% want to see the series
return, followed by NBC's Parenthood
with 38% and Fox's Fringe (which is
already renewed, by the way) at 37%. NBC's Community
ranked fourth with 33% support.
Other shows getting more support to renew rather than drop
were CBS' CSI: NY (32% for renewal),
Fox's Alcatraz (at 29%), CBS' Unforgettable (28%) and Fox's Touch (27%).
And although more respondents wanted to see these shows
dropped than renewed, 26% of those polled voted to renew ABC's Cougar Town, with 25% wanting NBC to
return Up All Night.
The Big Four network show the most respondents "loathed,"
according to the article, was the CBS sitcom ¡Rob!
with 42% of the respondents urging the network to not bring it back. And asked
about a group of 10 broadcast network shows most likely returning that they
would like to see cancelled instead, the top two were CBS' Two and a Half Men and Fox's Glee.
On another list of shows that are likely to be canceled, respondents said they
would most with to save NBC's Harry's Law.
which clearly didn't endear itself to respondents, averaged 11 million viewers
per episode and a 3.2 18-49 rating, placing it in the top 10 among scripted
series. Granted, this was in a short midseason run on CBS, leading out of The Big Bang Theory. Two and a Half Men is averaging 12.9
million viewers, making it the second most-watched sitcom on television, and
also has one of the highest 18-49 demo ratings of any show on TV with a 4.3.
And Glee, while averaging a
middle-of-the-pack 6.6 million viewers, does average a 2.7 18-49 rating.
As for the shows the viewers want to see renewed, Unforgettable does average 10.2 million
viewers, but also averages a subpar 2.1 18-49 rating. Ditto for CSI: NY, which averages 9.2 million viewers,
but only a 1.5 demo rating. Touch has
averaged 8.3 million viewers and a 2.4 18-49 rating, but that is leading out of
American Idol and in recent weeks, Touch has been bleeding viewers. Remember, however, that these shows aren't among the top
four that the readers want to see renewed.
The biggest support went to Parks and Recreation, which is averaging
only 3.4 million viewers and a 1.6 18-49 rating. Next was Parenthood, averaging 4.7 million viewers and a 1.8 demo rating. Fringe, already renewed by Fox
(advertisers have to be shaking their heads), has averaged 2.8 million viewers
and a 1.0 18-49 rating. And Community
has averaged 3.3 million viewers and a 1.4 demo rating.
Others they want to bring back include Cougar Town, which brings in 4.5 million viewers and a 1.5 demo
rating, and Up All Night, at 4
million viewers and a 1.6 in the demo. And Harry's
Law, while averaging 7.2 million viewers, is the oldest-skewing drama on
television with only a 1.0 rating among 18-49 year olds.
Clearly, some of those NBC shows will have to be renewed;
the network's schedule is so devoid of hits that it cannot cancel every
It's a safe bet that most of the respondents are passionate
fans of the shows they voted to bring back and do not represent the viewing
patterns of a majority of the overall primetime TV audience. And that's OK.
It's great for them to have a vehicle to express their thoughts and try to
influence the network brass to bring the shows they love back for another
season. It is, after all, a tried and true tradition in TV history.
But from an advertiser point of view, the only purpose of
renewing many of those shows would be to lower the price of ad packages by
offsetting the value of some of the most-watched series.