Ignorance of how the television world works is usually forgivable. But this year, TV shows with savvy fans thrived; whereas, television shows with ignorant fans suffered. One good example is the CW’s BEAUTY AND THE BEAST.
From day one, BEAUTY AND THE BEAST had a huge hurdle to overcome: it was a show based on romance. Sure there was the hero with genetically-mutated genes who could partially transform into a beast when his hormones raged out of control; but the essence of the story was a romance between the woman who loved the beast and how they would do anything for each other.
It was a TV show that was hard to sell to advertisers as it was clearly ear-marked for a young female fanbase with little to offer male viewers. Unfortunately, due to the casting of 30 year old actors in the show, it failed to land even the young teen female viewers who deemed its leads too old. That audience went fleeing instead to the greener pastures of younger casted TV shows or shows that were more relatable to their generation.
So BEAUTY AND THE BEAST limped through its first season with modest ratings, mostly skewing towards a 35-49 year old female demo, which is less valuable to advertisers who will pay higher ad dollars for 13-34 year old viewers, simply because they are so elusive and harder to reach.
Loss of Audience Retention
In addition, in its second season, BEAUTY AND THE BEAST then lost 50% of the audience it had managed to carve out in its first year by eschewing its strong, core romance and separating its lead characters through various frustrating obstacles.
See my previous article: BEAUTY AND THE BEAST: The Curse of The Sophomore Slump?
“Live” Viewers vs. DVR Viewers
Another fatal flaw was that the remainder of BEAUTY AND THE BEAST’s viewing audience was dominated by those who did not understand what “live” viewing meant versus DVR-viewing. The bulk of its remaining fans assumed that watching the show on the same night via a DVR was equal to “live” viewing. And that’s where an uneducated, un-television savvy viewership really hurts a TV show.
BEAUTY AND THE BEAST not only alienated half its viewership in its second season, its remaining fanbase was woefully ignorant of how things worked in the television world. “Live” ratings is when a viewer watches a TV show without the aid of a DVR. It forces the viewer to watch every single commercial without the option of skipping it.
Time and time again, BEAUTY AND THE BEAST fans (who proudly called themselves “Beasties” – someone really needs to tell these folks how many negative connotations go with that particular moniker) proclaimed that their show had one of the highest DVR-lifts of any show on television. That is not something to be proud of when your TV show is pulling in less than one million “live” viewers a week.
DVR-ratings only reflect delayed viewership; accordingly, DVR-viewers are rated at a significantly lower value when it comes to advertising dollars. For example, a “live” viewer may be worth $1.00 each, but a DVR-viewer may be only worth $0.05. So DVR-viewers are only noteworthy, and not as really contributing towards the profitability or economic-viability of a television show.
This is a huge factor for a network or studio in determining whether a television show is worthwhile to continue or should be canceled to make way for a show that can carry its weight and pull in advertising dollars.
Failure to Pair
Another huge misstep in its second season was the pairing BEAUTY AND THE BEAST with HART OF DIXIE. Based on both shows’ previous year storylines, it made perfect sense from the outset — as both shows favored strong romantic storylines.
Unfortunately, during the 2013-14 television season, HART OF DIXIE decided to downplay its romance and focus on its small town comedy; and BEAUTY AND THE BEAST decided shed its romantic-focus to try to crank up its dramatic element by having a storyline where the main hero had his memory wiped and was turned into a beast-like killing machine. So BEAUTY AND THE BEAST essentially jettisoned the romance and tried to be a straight action-hero story.
So both shows suffered by being paired with another show that did not appeal to the same audience.
In one last ditch effort to try to find a show that BEAUTY AND THE BEAST could pair with successfully, the CW selected its new series STAR-CROSSED to air with it in the mid-season. Since STAR-CROSSED offered a very romantic storyline of an alien boy and a human girl falling in love, yet kept apart by warring factions, it stood a strong chance of appealing to the same audience who had stuck with BEAUTY AND THE BEAST (those who were hopeful that the show would return to its strong romantic storylines).
Unfortunately, the BEAUTY AND THE BEAST fans were in panic-mode by the time STAR-CROSSED debuted. Believing that STAR-CROSSED was only one more show that could prevent their show from having a chance at renewal, the BEAUTY AND THE BEAST fans did everything in their power to send the message that STAR-CROSSED had to be avoided at all costs. They flamed the fires of anti STAR-CROSSED passions across Twitter and social media.
What the BEAUTY AND THE BEAST fans failed to see was STAR-CROSSED was its best bet at survival. Only by showing that fans would “pair” and watch both shows, that the CW would think it had finally found a successful television block to add to their upcoming Fall 2014-15 schedule.
Since BEAUTY AND THE BEAST had failed twice at “pairing” with THE VAMPIRE DIARIES in its first season and HART OF DIXIE in its second season, STAR-CROSSED was its last chance to prove it could “pair” with another show.
Alas, that was not to be simply because the BEAUTY AND THE BEAST fans failed to see how “pairing” may save their show.
(Fortunately for STAR-CROSSED, it was given a second chance to “pair” with the CW series THE TOMORROW PEOPLE, and it paired with quite nicely with it. Fans were tuning in for both shows, establishing a solid demo rating and making that “paired” block a strong contender for the Fall season — increasing both shows odds at renewals for their second seasons.)
Yet another terrifying trend amongst ignorant television viewers is how to use social media. The BEAUTY AND THE BEAST fans were boastful of their ability to trend on Twitter every Monday night when their show aired, or whenever they deemed it an appropriate time to inundate Twitter with their trending campaigns.
But passion and slavish devotion to trending does not equate to advertising dollars. Ad buyers only look at “live” viewership, which guarantees that their product commercials are being seen and perhaps may influence a viewer to buy/use their product.
Studios and networks may take note of Twitter trending to assess how engaged viewers are during a “live” airing of a TV show, but Twitter trending does not equate to ad dollars or direct revenue.
So Twitter trending is only a boast-worthy mark of a TV show. What made the BEAUTY AND THE BEAST fans’ Twitter trending so terrifying was how they chose to use it as a destructive tool.
They not only began the campaigns to destroy STAR-CROSSED before its premiere by vowing to not watch it and encouraging the rest of the BEAUTY AND THE BEAST fans to do the same; once STAR-CROSSED did begin to air, they deliberately scheduled their Twitter trending efforts to take place during each STAR-CROSSED television broadcast airing in an effort to undermine STAR-CROSSED’s efforts to trend and demonstrate that it was establishing its own strong fanbase.
Astoundingly, once BEAUTY AND THE BEAST was on hiatus for an indefinitely break, its fans thought it was their god-given right to still claim Monday nights as their night to wreak havoc with their Twitter campaigns. Unfortunately, they were not content to only trend during the now-vacated BEAUTY AND THE BEAST timeslot (which had been 9 pm on Monday nights), they moved up into the STAR-CROSSED timeslot (8 pm on Monday nights) in an effort to actively destroy STAR-CROSSED’s ability to trend during its own airings.
It was even more stunning to see that one of the BEAUTY AND THE BEAST stars, Austin Basis, encouraged these destructive Twitter trending campaigns and flamed the passions of the Beasties into waging war against STAR-CROSSED, by merely saying that there was nothing wrong with a little competition and protesting: if not Monday nights at 8 pm, then when? (Answer: Maybe a day/time when it was more likely to be noticed favorably and not seen as a poorly chosen weapon by desperate fans.)
This poor Twitter conduct was hurtful in several ways. For one, both BEAUTY AND THE BEAST and STAR-CROSSED are owned by CBS, then sold to the CW. They are sister-shows from the same studio and air on the same network. CBS has just as much to lose if one or both shows fails to get picked up, as does the CW, which will then have to see if it can successfully launch two new shows – which in the current television climate has become increasingly difficult to do. There is less risk with renewal than with launching new shows. Thus, both networks and studios tend favor renewal if there is an established, solid fanbase for a TV show.
Second, it illustrates how vicious, negative and entirely self-serving the BEAUTY AND THE BEAST fans were. They were not interested in the economics of what makes a television show successful and appealing to a broadcast network and advertisers, they were only interested in proving that their favorite show was the only show worthy of their slavish devotion. But devotion does not equate into dollars. Ad buyers/networks are looking for committed viewers who will not just tune in for one TV show a night, but will stick around and keep watching subsequent shows and give the advertiser a second chance at capturing their attention.
Advertisers also need to know that such television fans will not bail at the first sign that a TV show is not living up to their dictated-mandates of storylines. BEAUTY AND THE BEAST fans have proven not only will they bail when they are dissatisfied with the storylines or characters, but they are a fanbase willing to use hostile, negative means to achieve their personal goals.
No advertisers wants to be associated with a fanbase known for such poor attitudes or ethics. Advertisers want to be associated with fans that can be held up as exemplary citizens. For example, just like Justin Bieber or celebrities from “Duck Dynasty” can alienate sponsors and advertisers with their outlandish behavior and unflattering opinions, so can television fanbases scare off advertisers.
THE BEAUTY AND THE BEAST fanbase has established itself as two things: (1) fickle and (2) destructive.
No advertiser finds those attributes attractive. It’s bad enough that the BEAUTY AND THE BEAST fans do not fit into the most desirable age demograph, but to have such negative connotations associated with them, just sends advertisers fleeing in another direction.
This is how the BEAUTY AND THE BEAST fandom slit its own throat. Ignorance of how the business world, advertising world, and the television world works is no excuse. Similarly, there is no excuse for poor conduct in public forums. It has put itself in a poor light and marked the TV show they want to save for death.
Television viewers cannot afford to be so blindly ignorant anymore. If they want to save a TV show, they must understand how to be a positive influence and appeal to advertisers. Ignorance is no excuse.
[NOTE: This article was removed from TheTVaddict.com today after my editor received numerous death threats and threats of bodily harm. Should any such threats continue, they will be reported to the FBI and any other appropriate law enforcement agency.]