For some years the common refrain when it came to television shows was often heard throughout the land.
Why did they cancel my favourite show?
This colossal question was first entertained by me when Salvage One was chopped. Or was it Holmes and Yoyo? Each one had a place in my heart, filled with love and admiration, which was destroyed when the networks unceremoniously yanked those gems off the air.
Now, upon further reflections, and viewings of clips on YouTube, I realized these shows sucked like a black hole. Neither should have ever seen the light of day. But I was young and in love.
But for every Holmes and Yoyo, plenty of quality shows have gone to the celluloid graveyard far to soon. Firefly is one fine example of this problem. Arrested Development and Veronica Mars are others two that fit the bill, although I have never seen either one.
Calls have been going on years and years for reform of the ratings system, the all powerful and supposedly all knowing tracking of who watches what when. The logic to kill each of those shows was based mostly on the lack of ratings they gathered. But the Nielsen company, whose job it is keep track of our eyeballs, does not count internet watching, mass binge viewings of dvd sets owned or borrowed, or pvr recordings played back much later on.
They are still working with 20th century methods in a 21st century world.
To catch up to 2010, the idea is being looked at to somehow measure how popular a show is, week to week, by gauging it’s hashtag.
And they would learn a lot by this simple task.
Twitter uses are the only ones who can participate in this venture, but anyone online can see the results.
First off, what is your shows #hashtag? This is the word or phrase twitter uses put on their tweets in order to group them together online. Many, many new shows put the hashtag (this symbol # followed by the words used) somewhere on the bottom corner of the screen. This is something they really want us to read, tweet, and retweet to. And why all shows do not do this is a complete mystery to me.
For the network, they get a continuous stream of what devoted fans, casual viewers, and first timers, think and feel and reactions to what is happening. This also shows them all the various time shifting people do. The latest episode of NCIS? You can see it and tweet about it not on Tuesday night when it airs, but on Friday morning when it is convenient to your schedule. So all those invisible people, unknown and uncounted, become registered voters for the ratings. The fuller picture of just how popular a show is will be made clear to the networks, which is turn will help stave off the axe.
For the fans, we get to see a never ending dialogue from fellow devotees, both hardcore and occasional, providing commentary and thoughts to the goings on before us. All the twitter users reading this, try checking the feed when your show is on. You will be fascinated how many people, all over the map, who you will agree with, disagree with, and possibly even get to know. Plot glitches and out of character moments are immediately flagged and flogged. Foreboding and cliffhangers are gasped at and applauded, prompting rampant speculation. What is a treasure trove of viewing information for the network is a wonderful stream of fannish delights for us.
So tracking television on twitter is a win win for everyone.
Now how this concept will work in reality, I have no clue. Maybe sophisticated tracking software will monitor the hashtag and mathematically figure it all out. If they can get humanity to the moon, they can work this out.
When I got wind of this at the start of the new year, I tried to make certain that from now one I would tweet, with the proper hashtag, about my show every week.
For the record, at this time I love and adore the following television shows: Arrow, Copper, Doctor Who, Luther, Once Upon A Time, Sherlock, and Treme. And right now, Googliebear and I are catching up with Parenthood and How I Met Your Mother on dvd. Sarah Jane Adventures and Last Resort are almost done their network runs, and will soon be gone.
I am proud to say all these shows are immensely better than that tripe called Holmes and Yoyo. Thankfully, my tastes have matured a bit since I was a wee little lad.
Twitter and the networks are witness to that.
P.S. But I still stand by Ark II and Vegetable Soup: Outerscope as being excellent shows, gone to soon.