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18 May 2009 @ 11:00 am
The Not Surprise  
So. Judgment Day came today.

No Terminator: Sarah Connor Chronicles on the schedule. DAMN YOU, FOX.

Though it's not a big shock. In fact, it's kind of appropriate for a show that deals with fate and termination.

But I want to address something that I've seen mentioned in a few places that it doesn't make sense because Dollhouse's ratings were worse. But that's not all that's going on there.

If the choice was ever really between Dollhouse and TSCC, that's no choice at all for Fox.

Their ratings BOTH sucked. Dollhouse was slightly worse, but really that's just fighting for the bottom of the barrel. Both had strong DVR/download numbers. But there's two things that Dollhouse has going for it, which SCC did not.


Dollhouse is owned by Fox. They make it, they broadcast it, and they distribute it. They have control of its DVDs and any other merchandise. In other words, THEY HAVE ACCESS TO OTHER REVENUE STREAMS for the show. Downloads and late DVR viewings count more there, because Fox cares what the overall audience is, because that's an indicator of the possible DVD market and what they can charge for the broadcast rights in other markets.

SCC is owned and made by Warner Bros. Fox pays a fee to THEM for the privilege of broadcasting the show. All those people who reserved the S2 DVDs? Fox has nothing to do with the DVDs. (It might go into the calculation for how much WB charges for the show, but without more details, I have no idea if that made it better or worse.) I'll assume Fox gets a tiny piece of paid downloads (like iTunes), but I don't know if that's true. In any cast that's just a drop in the bucket.

So what it comes down to is Fox can only recoup its investment on SCC in advertising dollars. And you might have heard that the economy and advertising are in the toilet right now. Advertisers want to know their money's being used wisely on shows people actually WATCH (not shows people wait three days to watch on their DVR and then buzz through the commercials).

It gets worse financially, if Dodge pulled their sponsorship (cuz of Chrysler's woes) as I suspect, that would make the show more expensive to produce. Which means WB would either have to cut the budget or increase the fee (on top of not buying ads during the show).

Dollhouse had to cut its budget for renewal (something Fox can force, because they own it). I don't know if SCC even had that option, but I can't imagine they can cut THAT much out. I know Josh has said the show's not nearly as expensive as it looks on screen, and they make their money stretch a lot, but still, we just ended up in the future which is the most expensive bit of the show. Dollhouse has one standing set (an expensive INVESTMENT), and normal locations with occasional FX and stunts. SCC has frequent gun battles, make up and CGI FX, heavy stunts, explosions, and a future dystopia setting for at least a few eps in the planned S3. There's not, I should think, a lot they could cut out without making it not a Terminator show at all (witness fans bitching in mid-season that there was no robot ass-kicking going on). I love Sarah but I don't really want to watch her sit around in the Gilmore Girls' house all day long, either.

Okay, so there's that. There's also:

Fox also ordered Dollhouse's running time cut from 50 min to 42. That's EIGHT MINUTES of extra commercials time carved out of the show. But SCC is already at 43 minutes. Josh couldn't make that bargain, even if he wanted to.

So, with roughly equal, bad ratings, but one is owned in-house and can be made more cheaply? AND it comes complete with a rabid fanbase who have proven they'll snap up the DVDs? yeah, no contest.

Unfortunately, I think the Terminator movie was probably a non-factor. The timing's bad, generally, since the movie's marketing push came mostly after the show was over (though really they got general franchise publicity through the teasers, the movie's presence at ComicCon last year, and the Christian meltdown tape, and that didn't help). Presumably anyone who was interested in the Terminator franchise in general already tried the show.

There may be a personal thing going on here, too, in that Kevin Reilly (chief honcho at Fox programming) seems to have had a lot of faith in Joss and Dollhouse in general. He may even recognize that his own insistence on stand-alones at the beginning were a drag on the ratings. So there's possibly some lingering goodwill there, too.

But generally, it's a bidnez. Fox makes money by putting eyeballs in front of ads. Also, keep in mind, that unlike the other networks (except CW and NBC this fall I guess), Fox only has two hours a night to fill. They have to be picky and pick what they think will perform better.

I don't think Dollhouse fans can take their 13 episodes to the bank and expect a mid-season pick up on the back half or a third season though. Because, no, unless ratings pick up, they're just staving off cancellation for a year, like SCC did.

But even though I get it and I've been sure this was gonna happen for quite awhile, it still sucks.

At least there is fic. *sniff*
To Hell with this. I'm gonna live!: {bsg} Too sexy to be humanjustmyb0nes on May 18th, 2009 08:21 pm (UTC)
this is the bad news of the week :(
lizardbeth: C Bale - with botslizardbeth_j on May 18th, 2009 08:56 pm (UTC)
yeah, it's a bummer. Especially when it's the same week T4 opens.

Opens here, I mean. :P
To Hell with this. I'm gonna live!: {ts} I'm John Connorjustmyb0nes on May 19th, 2009 06:31 am (UTC)
Yep but as you said, it was niot really a surprise.

Damn you!!!
A work in progress: Frak Me BSGancarett on May 18th, 2009 08:24 pm (UTC)
Blech. I know it makes business sense but it's still a huge disappointment for me.

I'm stepping back from TV fandom for a while. There's really no show out there that I'm going to watch this fall -- I'll sit through Dollhouse with my daughter because she's interested but I'm finding it increasingly unappealing. I'll watch those episodes of Smallville with Lois in them but, beyond that? There's nothing out there that's at all of interest.

Thank goodness for the new Trek and the prospect of more Iron Man in the future!
lizardbeth: Derek with gunlizardbeth_j on May 18th, 2009 09:07 pm (UTC)
For a little while there I hoped that CW would pick it up, as an in-house show, but after they renewed both SV and Spn, I don't think there's room for it (even assuming the budget stuff could work out). *sad*

Yeah, I don't know what I'll be esp fannish about, in terms of shows where I can really get into the mythologies and back stories and write fic for. Probably just stay in BSG and SCC for awhile since I've still got things to say there.
The Proverbial Bull in a China Shop...: What if I should diesabaceanbabe on May 18th, 2009 08:25 pm (UTC)
Yep. On all counts.

*looks at fic notes for ficathon*

And I need to work on some of that fic soon, I'm thinking.
lizardbeth: Derek S2lizardbeth_j on May 18th, 2009 09:07 pm (UTC)
eek. ficathon. *hides*
emmiere: a storm is coming...emmiere on May 18th, 2009 08:43 pm (UTC)
You've got a good breakdown of the reasoning. But yeah, I was just really getting into the show and it's so disappointing to not be able to look forward to a new season. So...what you said, yes.

lizardbeth: Derek and babylizardbeth_j on May 18th, 2009 09:40 pm (UTC)
I've been waiting for the news for so long, it just seemed inevitable. So yeah, disappointed, but not angry or surprised. Heck, I was surprised by the pick up for S.2.

But it's so SAD that we won't get a chance to see how it could've played out. Because it has so much potential.
noybusiness: lolcatbsgnoybusiness on May 19th, 2009 01:09 am (UTC)
Sucks like suckage. I was hoping both would be renewed. Ah, well. One is better than zero.