To Whom It May Concern at the NBC Network,
As I am sure you are aware, second year series Revolution is currently struggling in the ratings and by my estimation–based solely on its Nielsen ratings–it will certainly be cancelled by the end of the season. However, this series appears to have developed a very strong fanbase that is active on the social networks and ready to do what it takes to support the show. I urge you to reach out to these fans and let them know how they can help keep the series that they love running for a third season and more.
In the current era of dwindling broadcast network ratings, I believe that it would be a mistake to ignore such a dedicated and engaged fanbase when the chance presents itself to work with them and keep a series on the air that appears to have touched so many viewers. You will of course remember the affect that Star Trek had on a select group of the television audience back in the late 60’s, and their efforts to keep that show alive through a write-in campaign became legendary and helped build a franchise that is still a major force today. In 2002, Firefly was cut short by another network and yet continued to live on in the hearts of many fans and could have grown into a franchise to rival Star Trek had the cold, hard Nielsen ratings alone not been allowed to dictate its fate.
With Revolution, once again a large fanbase is energized to support their show and I believe that the network should embrace the opportunity to reach out and work with them. While the show’s ratings shortfalls may make it difficult to recoup its production costs based on the current model, other options may be available to cover the gap. Perhaps an upcoming season could be pre-funded through subscription orders of episode downloads. While the revenue from those pre-orders may not be enough to cover the full production costs, they may cover a good chunk of the revenue shortfall from discounted sales of advertising due to the lower ratings. I have not seen a similar strategy pursued by another network to keep a series running, but the recent pre-funding of the Veronica Mars movie gives a clear indication that a devoted fanbase can be energized to contribute to the financial burden of productions costs. This would be a unique move by NBC that could the change current model for how some–if not all–television series are produced and make them less dependent on the (often derided) Nielsen ratings (which failed to predict the franchise potential of properties such as Star Trek and Firefly).
Of course there are other options as well for keeping this series going despite its low ratings. Perhaps a partnership similar to the one you previously did with DirecTV to keep Friday Night Lights on the air could earn Revolution another season. A similar deal could be worked out with that company or streaming services like Netflix, Amazon, or Hulu. Perhaps Revolution could come back with shortened seasons–to keep production costs down–and air during the times that other shows typically run in repeats, thus optimizing your network’s schedule. Perhaps Revolution could live on in the Friday night timeslot paired with up with your successful supernatural series Grimm which will be heading into its fourth season. Revolution‘s devoted fanbase would certainly follow the show to that time which is typically a low viewership night for Prime Time.
These and more options present themselves as possibilities and I believe that the Revolution fans would be happy to work together with NBC to assure that their beloved series will continue for further seasons. Networks have so often made their decisions apart from those fans that follow the shows they air, but this presents itself as an opportunity to work in collaboration with that audience, especially the option to pre-fund upcoming seasons. The tide is currently changing as the ever-fracturing audience disperses across the many viewing opportunities offered by the broadcast and cable channels as well as the many internet and streaming options. This could be an chance for NBC to take the reins and guide the changes that are to come.
Last Fall’s Dracula and Summer’s Siberia are two additional shows that have developed notable fanbases that the network could reach out to in a similar way. And new entry Believe (which dropped notably in the ratings with its second episode) is another show that likely deserves an attempt by the network to reach out to the fanbase to keep it on the air. Fans of past shows like Jericho, Legend of the Seeker, and Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles have shown a willingness to spend large amounts of money for campaigns that could save their shows. Why not direct those dollars into pre-funding future seasons which would make continuation of these shows more economically feasible? The fans would almost certainly be amenable to this course of action especially if networks such as yourself would reach out and try to work together with them.
It can’t hurt to test the waters. And if a deal can be reached especially for multiple shows, it could help build a loyalty to the NBC brand that would be a true asset in today’s increasingly splintered television viewing market.
At this point, NBC can simply cancel Revolution and Dracula and Siberia and other shows based on Nielsen ratings as we have seen so many times in the past. Or you can take the opportunity to work in partnership with the fans to help build a new model as well as the allegiances that would follow and help sustain NBC in the current tumultuous television landscape. The decision ultimately is yours, but the legions of fans are standing at the ready if you choose to call them into action.
I thank you for your time and consideration and will look forward to seeing a strong partnership develop between NBC and its fans.
John J. Joex