If the broadcast networks had listened to NewMediaMetrics'
consumer emotional attachment data before putting new shows on the air over the
past seven years, they could have cumulatively saved nearly $4 billion in
production costs alone, according to NMM cofounder Denise Larson.
With the number of new shows already cancelled this season
continuing to grow, Larson says the networks need to change how they go about
selecting which series to produce and put on their primetime schedules each
"Hollywood is a crazy place when it comes to the business of
making TV shows," Larson says. "The studios and the networks have a system that
follows the philosophy of, 'We produce pilots first and then we see how they
do.' If any of the major consumer brands companies operated this way, they
would go out of business. You can't create a product in a vacuum, produce it
and put it on the shelf to see if it sells. Yet this is what the TV networks
continue to do. The amount of money wasted on TV pilots is mind-boggling."
Larson says over the past seven years, NMM's emotional attachment
data, which is based on interviews with TV viewers done six months before the
pilots were made, correctly selected 67% of the series that eventually failed
sometime during their first season.
Over the seven-year period, NMM surveyed over 18,000 consumers
ages 18-54 as part of its Leveraging Emotional Attachment for Profit (LEAP)
Index. Scores for TV series can ranged up into the high 200s, but shows that index
below 95 are, in the Index's estimation, destined to fail.
Below is a list of some of the shows that NMM projected to
fail-and did-by their fall TV season, along with their Index score. How many do
20 Good Years (NBC), 94; Let's Rob (which was later named Knights of
Prosperity) (ABC), 94; Six
Degrees (ABC), 94; Standoff (Fox), 92; The Class (CBS), 92; Big
Day (ABC), 92; Kidnapped (NBC), 92; Vanished (Fox), 83; Runaway
(CW), 77; Happy Hour (Fox), 75.
Search for the Next Great American Band (Fox), 93; K-Ville
(Fox), 91; Kid Nation (CBS), 89; Back to You (Fox), 86; Lipstick
Jungle (NBC), 86.
My Own Worst Enemy (NBC), 86; Life on Mars
(ABC), 82; Do Not Disturb (Fox), 79; Stylista (CW), 74; Worst
Week (CBS), 71; Kath & Kim (NBC), 70.
Three Rivers (CBS), 84; Accidently on Purpose
(CBS), 70; Brothers (CW), 62; The Beautiful Life (CW), 58.
Outlaw (NBC), 91; Detroit 1-8-7 (ABC), 90; Undercovers
(NBC), 90; The Event (NBC), 88; The Good Guys (Fox), 88; Lonestar
(Fox), 79; Chase (NBC), 74; Running Wilde (Fox), 72; Better
Together (ABC), 71; Hellcats (CW), 66.
H8R (CW), 93; I Hate My Teenage Daughter
(Fox), 92; Man Up (ABC), 87; Pan Am (ABC), 80; Free Agents
(NBC), 71; How to Be a Gentleman (CBS), 65; Allen Gregory (Fox),
Fall 2012 (to date)
Animal Practice (NBC), 91; Made in Jersey
(CBS), 82; Emily Owens, M.D. (CW), 82; Partners (CBS), 66.
Conversely, here are some of the series that the LEAP Index
predicted would become successful series on the broadcast networks, along with
their index scores.
Brothers & Sisters (ABC), 129; Heroes
Fringe (Fox), 162; The Mentalist (CBS), 112.
NCIS: Los Angeles (CBS), 185; Glee (Fox), 123.
Hawaii Five-0 (CBS), 114.
Grimm (NBC), 135; The X Factor (Fox), 128.
Revolution (NBC), 165; Chicago Fire (NBC),
Revolution is currently on hiatus but will return in
March. It is averaging eight million viewers, third best among the new series
that premiered in the fall, and is averaging a 3.0 18-49 demo rating, second
best among all freshmen series. Chicago Fire is averaging 5.94 million
viewers, seventh best among new series, and a 1.7 18-49 rating, tied for eighth
among new series.
Larson says the networks have always been skeptical of NMM's
ability to predict the success of shows before pilots are made and shown to
"NBC executives laughed at us when we told them that Heroes
was going to be their most successful new show," Larson says. "They thought Kidnapped
was going to be the big new hit of the 2006 season and we predicted it to fail.
NBC put Heroes on the schedule thinking it was a long shot to succeed
but our research showed otherwise."
NMM's track record seems sound, particularly in targeting
series that will not work, but skeptics still wonder how accurate the company's
emotional attachment data can be if the potential viewers they are interviewing
are just offering their feelings based on a written concept of the programs.
Larson says this is how major product manufacturers decide
what new products to produce before spending millions on production costs.
"Companies have been developing products this way for years,"
she says. "They show consumers detailed ideas and descriptions of potential new
brands and products and get input based on that. They ask consumers if they
would buy a particular product based on a description of it. It's concept
testing as opposed to focus group testing which, in the case of TV shows, can
only be done after a few million dollars is spent on each pilot."
Larson believes today's busy consumers are making snap
judgments as to what TV shows they will watch and when. "In this fast-paced
world today, people are making quick decisions about everything and tend to
dismiss stuff rather quickly if they are not immediately drawn to it," she
says. "If they hear about a concept of a show and it doesn't affect them
emotionally right away, they may never watch it."
Larson says advertisers run 30-second commercials and expect
those ads to convince people to go out and buy products. She likens that to showing
consumers a series concept and seeing if they believe it is something they will
be drawn to emotionally.
Of the 161 TV shows NMM has questioned consumers about since
it began its testing, 108 have been projected to fail.
"Our research has been right 67% of the time about the TV
shows and that's a way better track record than the broadcast networks have,"
Larson says. "What the studios and the networks have to realize is that TV
viewers have no vested interest in whether a series succeeds or not. Most don't
know if a series is made by J.J. Abrams nor do they care. They care about the
concept of the series as being something that would interest them enough to
spend time watching it."
Picking TV shows that will succeed or fail each year is just
a small part of what NMM does. Its surveys of consumers' emotional attachment
extends to 360 brands across 45 categories as they relate to more than 300 TV
networks, shows and websites airing TV content.