Chuck Versus The DVR

What do you mean we can't get Chuck online?

Broadcast TV is a dead business model.  I know I’ve said that before, but I still believe it.  It died as a viable business the moment it lost its monopoly on American’s TVs and their eyes.  It’s just that nobody seems to have noticed right away, and the death throes are taking a while.  After the jump.

Before going too far into the weeds I want to say this isn’t my typical post.  It’s more about our relationship with the show, and the network that airs it.  What do we owe them, what do they owe us in return, and how is that relationship changing?  A few things I read recently finally clicked in to place and a discussion I’d been skating along the edges of finally came together.  I’ll point you to both of the main ones, though this started with Faith’s news that we aren’t likely to get Chuck episodes any way other than live for a while.  I understand the thinking behind it, but what interests me more is the response of consumers and fans.  I’ll get to that soon enough.  The first post was an interesting scoop at Geek Furious (I believe that is DR’s new blog, expanding beyond just Chuck).  It seems that a full third of Chuck’s key demo audience watched on their schedule rather than NBC’s.  The other is one I stumbled across about eBooks and the readers, but the discussion about how problematic it is to maintain a proprietary format or means of delivery definitely applies.  The site is called Ric’s Rulez, and it is pretty political outside the post in question, so I’ll just remind readers this is a Chuck site and we discuss Chuck, not politics.  If you don’t want to be exposed to political discussion you could probably read the article in question, but shouldn’t go beyond that.  And it goes without saying that I will offer no endorsement or criticism of the politics involved, so any issue with the site or any post on it does not need to be raised here .  Anyway, stick with me for a while and have your say with a few polls at the end.

It is always a mistake to confuse what it is you are selling the public.  The music industry has a history of this, first with records, then tapes and again CDs.  They got caught up in the idea that they were delivering a plastic disk rather than what was on that disk.  The public always knew they were buying a song.  The disk was just the means of delivery.  By locking themselves into that means of delivery the music industry sought to have a monopoly on the distribution of and hence maintain control of copyrighted material.  A perfectly reasonable goal by the way.  This can work for a while, but monopolies tend to make the people who hold them lazy and complacent.  And arrogant.  The public decides the price they’ll pay, but also what they expect for that price.  For the price of that disk the consumer who bought it felt perfectly entitled to copy the contents to cassette tape so they could listen in their car, and later on their Walkman and iPod.  After all, they bought the song.  When the music industry tried to extract a price again and again for what the customer felt they already owned, the song, they wouldn’t accept it.  As the cost rose and the quality declined the music industry found itself outmaneuvered by increasingly clever and agile customers and independent musicians.  You see, they were selling that $18 disk, which was one thing when the group was The Rolling Stones and the disk contained Exile on Main Street, but quite another when it was Marky Mark and the Funky Bunch.  Eighteen bucks for one of the greatest albums of all times is something people will pay for.  One catchy tune that’ll be forgotten in a few weeks and a bunch of filler isn’t.  So customers either stayed away or found another way.  Until a rather clever guy decided he had a better way.  Sell the song, not the disk.  Steve Jobs likely saved the music industry from itself by showing them that what they were selling wasn’t worth what they thought it was.  At first he had to go along to get along.  Make his distribution method look like just the next means of delivery, and make the format proprietary so the access and distribution could be controlled, but little by little, as others jumped in the game, the new reality took hold.  That song was worth 99 cents, and that’s what consumers would pay for it.  Try to charge $18, they’ll refuse to buy or find a way to steal.  At 99 cents, it isn’t worth the effort to steal it.  That is why music is now sold digitally online with no copy protection whatsoever.  And why I’ve spent nearly $1,000 over the years, most of which never would have been spent on plastic disks with a lot of filler.

Steve Jobs was a great capitalist in addition to being a great innovator.  He provided a new market for consumers, and a new revenue stream for musicians, and as a clever middleman made sure he got his cut through the players and the store.  Find a way to give the consumer something they want at a price they are willing to pay and you make billions.  Telling them my way or the highway is a guaranteed way to destroy a fortune.  Unless you can enforce that monopoly.

A similar trend is now taking place in TV and movies.  New technology has again changed the relationship between the producers and the consumers, and hence the price each is willing to pay to the other.  Put simply, network TV is now overpriced to the viewer.  Appointment TV extracts too much time on an inflexible schedule when the viewer has other options.  These days, especially in the main product the networks sell the advertisers, the eyes and attention of the 18-49 demo, they have options.  And so do the advertisers.  Network TV, as a business model essentially places the network in the role of a middle man or a time broker.  To an advertiser the potential customer’s attention is vitally important, so they’re willing to pay a premium for that attention.  For the network to capture that attention they need to give the potential customer something fairly valuable, free entertainment.  They give us, in the case of Chuck, 43 minutes of great entertainment.  What they ask in return is another 17 minutes, or significant fraction thereof of our attention.

There was a day when the big three networks could count on most TV’s being tuned to one of them just about every night.  What was the competition after all?  PBS and a few local independents that couldn’t compete with their original programming.  In those days people made appointment TV a habit.  Some still do, but it’s a dying habit.  It started dying in the 1980’s with the arrival of the VCR and the vast expansion of programming on premium cable stations.  Still VCRs and tapes were initially expensive, as were premium channels, so the big three and their affiliates, holders of those all important broadcast frequencies ruled the airwaves for years to come.  But there was competition on the horizon.

The VCR, and now the DVR, gave the viewer the ability to watch at their leisure, and to skip the part where they pay for the entertainment.  Premium cable and more channels gave the viewer more options, thus increasing the availability and the number of choices for their entertainment, and lowering the individual value of each one, but they extracted their price from the consumer directly, no commercials to watch.  You can choose to pay for HBO and Showtime, DVR your shows, or rent or stream from Amazon or Netflix.  You can choose to pay Netflix $9.95 a month or Amazon $80/year and have tens of thousands of hours of entertainment available.  That doesn’t even consider the vast expansion of cable or satellite channels available to your average cable subscriber.  This lowers the value of network advertising to the advertiser.  They now have incentive to go elsewhere to find a less diluted pool of potential customers.  The most valuable advertising time left on TV is sporting events, where the viewer still has a strong incentive to watch live.  It appears that network TV either has to find that new price the viewers are willing to pay in time and investment, or find a way to justify what they do deliver to the advertisers as worthwhile.  This is the reason the Save Chuck campaigns worked.  The viewers went to the advertisers and said yes, it is worth what you pay, we are supporting you because you support Chuck.  Now the networks just have to figure out how to do that, or their future is reality TV, which started out as essentially a pre-taped sporting competition with Survivor, and has managed to diversify in to a low-priced source for drama with shows such as The Bachelor.

So broadcast TV isn’t so much dead as it is a zombie.  It’s time has come and gone, but it continues to shuffle along unaware of its decay and eventual inevitable demise.  There will be something called a broadcast network as long as those valuable spectrum monopolies exist, though their intrinsic value has and will continue to decline.  But what Network TV will look like is anyone’s guess.  I’m more interested in the future of entertainment, and more specifically the niche shows like Chuck.

To me, all the vitality and creativity in visual entertainment is happening on TV right now.  You have a ton of shows (many of them on NBC oddly) that are pushing the boundaries of storytelling and traditional structure in both drama and comedy.  It’s no surprise that I think Chuck is a leader among them.  For movies and mini-series, you can’t beat HBO lately.  To me, the movies have kind of died as a creative force in entertainment.  They are innovating technically, but seem stagnant creatively.  You need look no further than the number of remakes to see the decline.  All they can seem to think of is re-telling a story with flashier camera work and bigger stunts.  Visual appeal is great, but it only takes you so far.

So back to what got me thinking about this.  I’ll probably drop out of Chuck for a while this season.  Since NBC has decided to burn off the remaining Chuck episodes over the holidays, I’m practically guaranteed to miss at least one, showing on the 23rd of December, and until I get the chance to watch it, on my DVR when I get back from my Christmas vacation, I won’t be watching another episode of Chuck.  I’m weird that way with the serialized stories.  I want to see them in order.  If Chuck were available on iTunes or Amazon, I guarantee I’d be subscribed for the season and would use them to keep up-to-date so I could watch live with the rest of the fandom on the 30th (or at least in closer proximity to the live air dates for 5.07 and 5.08) but that option has been withheld, and so at least one less viewer will be watching live.  Seems counter-productive to me, but then maybe it’s just me.  I don’t think so, we all have a lot more options now, from the DVR to simply waiting for the iTunes or DVD release.  And while in no way should this be seen as an excusing or endorsement, then there’s piracy.

A while back we saw that Chuck was the most pirated show on TV.  I think we know why.  Chuck has a pretty large international fanbase, and they don’t like waiting for Chuck to show up in their iTunes store or on one of their TV networks.  In other words, the cost is too high, so they find another way.  I think this also bleeds over into the availability of Chuck via iTunes or Amazon in the US.  For some reason Chuck is just about the only WB or NBC show that I can find that isn’t readily available via iTunes or Amazon.  And it is (or was) likely the most pirated TV show in part because of that.

I don’t know why Chuck seems to be such a unique case.  Perhaps it’s the value to the advertisers, they want people watching live or on DVR so their product placement and commercials have maximum impact as opposed to the commercial free iTunes and Amazon, or different commercials on Hulu or OnDemand, requiring the advertisers to pay for multiple venues.  I do however know this, it has limited effectiveness.  There are too many tech-savvy viewers out there who are more than glad to bend the rules to help their fellow Chuck fans keep up with the show so they can participate in the online community.  That spreads out from there, via the friend of a friend network to the more casual fans, until you have the most pirated TV show as a consequence of  trying to restrict access and extract that price from the viewers.  The viewers are telling you something.  The price is too high, the wait is too long, the means of delivery too restrictive.  You can fight it, or embrace it, but the fans and the consumers will have final say.

So what does this have to do with network TV?  I don’t know.  But entertainment and the means of delivery is changing, and the broadcast networks can’t count on their unique status as license holders to the spectrum to keep them going.  There are too many people with satellite or cable to count on that, and even then there are too many DVRs to count on live views.  There are too many ways around that price they want to extract in exchange for free entertainment, and too much other free entertainment.  So they have to find another way to draw the viewers in.  Much as I criticize NBC, they’ve actually been pretty good at identifying shows with something different to offer, like Chuck or Community or Heroes, or really well done shows like Southland or Friday Night Lights.  The only problem is that nobody seems to know they exist.  The third place network can’t seem to get the word out and get eyes on these promising new shows.  I don’t think limiting their availability helps either.  CBS may be able to get away with that, not NBC.  Do I have an answer?  No, this is just a little rant that may lead to some interesting discussion.   Someone smarter than me will figure this out.  Online viewing is likely to have a major role as the line between cable TV and internet continues to blur, and the set-top boxes, Amazon, Hulu+, iTunes, Netflix and all the rest will start to see themselves the way HBO eventually did, as a network with a different revenue model.  They will eventually look for exclusive or original content to draw in subscribers, and perhaps this is where the niche shows can fins a home.  Advertisers aren’t willing to pay a premium for 3-5 million viewers, no matter how intelligent and charming we are, but if 3-5 million viewers, or even a decent fraction of them, are willing to pay for their entertainment, who knows what’s possible.

So was there a point to this post?  Not really.  Just venting about how it seems TPTB are taking one last opportunity to stick it to Chuck fans again, and how I think it’s a counterproductive, and ultimately doomed effort.  For Chuck, it doesn’t really matter.   We’re coming to the end of the journey, and I may have a few (heh) words about that later.  For now, have your say in the comments and the polls.

First choose the one that best describes how you watch, for instance if you have “other sources” it really isn’t necessary for you to be in a foreign country, I’m just assuming that will be the largest contingent of those viewing by not necessarily sanctioned means.  If you usually watch via DVR as opposed to occasionally live, choose DVR as your prefered method.

Next up, just for fun let’s see how people might react to missing an episode.  Me, I want to watch in order and will wait till I can catch up before moving on.  How about you?


About Ernie Davis

I was born in 1998, the illegitimate brain child and pen name of a surly and reclusive misanthrope with a penchant for anonymity. My offline alter ego is a convicted bibliophile and causes rampant pognophobia whenever he goes out in public. He wants to be James Lileks when he grows up or Dave Barry if he doesn’t.  His hobbies are mopery, curling and watching and writing about Chuck.  Obsessively.  Really, the dude needs serious help.
This entry was posted in Analysis, Fan Base, Off Topic, polls, Ratings, Season 5. Bookmark the permalink.

160 Responses to Chuck Versus The DVR

  1. Wilf says:

    Interesting post, Ernie, thank you. I’m outside the US so … ahem … However, there are occasionally re-runs of older episodes of Chuck, even in the UK. 5* or 5star – a UK Freeview channel – is due to start broadcasting Season 1 tomorrow, one episode per day, it looks like. Whether they will ever get to broadcast other Seasons is anyone’s guess. I hope so.

  2. The first poll needs a “live first, then over and over and over again on DVR.”

    Keep in mind TPTB is a different TPTB than what people normally complain about. We don’t know who is responsible for this decision, but it is likely not the exec producers. They might have been forced info agreeing to it because some short-sighted exec with WB or NBC insisted upon it.

    • Ernie Davis says:

      Yes, I am using TPTB in the broadest and most generic sense, not in reference to the creative team as is often done. Thanks Jeff for the reminder.

    • joe says:

      This season, I have to agree with that, Jeff. Up to now I’ve been re-watching on my PC, either from HULU, the NBC Boards or my own(ed) DVDs.

      Now, it’s much more difficult.

      Ernie is right. The price just shot up.

  3. MichaelCarmichael says:

    We tend to watch live, even though we also buy it through itunes (Canada).
    Otherwise, I don’t watch broadcast TV. If we like it, we buy it through itunes or on DVD. That’s how I discovered Chuck in the first place, and i still find the commercial-free viewing experience preferable

  4. ArmySFC says:

    Ernie, i agree that the model currently in use is dying. the big problem i see is what it all comes down to is money. under the current model a network can estimate its income vs loss. take the 52% increase chuck got from the DVR numbers the first week. those numbers dropped to around 35% for the second week. if the network made money from those it would have been an unexpected loss, where as the live money would remain the same (less give back if it fell into another bracket).

    pay as you view (itunes etc) face the same problems. take S3 of chuck. just for simplicity lets say chuck was pay as you go during that season and each episode sold netted the network $1.00. the first week it would have netted 7.7 million the last episode only 5.1 million. the network would have a hard time budgeting the next season because the income was steadily going down each week. then multiply that problem by however many shows there are. it just screams nightmare!

    one other concern is that only about 70% of homes are cabled (non over the air). that leaves 30% of the viewing audience out of the revenue stream generated by other forms of viewing.

  5. Aerox says:

    I watch it live through the awesome power of internet streaming! Then I use my *ahem* other sources to score a 720p version and I’m golden.

    • Ernie Davis says:

      I’m sure everyone who states they have other sources is talking about iTunes Canada or other legal sources such as slingbox or a DVR because it wouldn’t be a great idea for an identifiable user to insinuate piracy, whereas an anonymous poll is a different matter.

      • Aerox says:

        Laws in my country clearly dictate that while it’s illegal to upload and share copyrighted material, the downloading is considered legal. Of course it becomes a different act if this could in any way harm the website, but as long as it doesn’t and I’m not handing out links left right and centre, I should be fine 😛

  6. meandmine says:

    Unfortunately there isn’t a channel in the UK with the rights to Season 5 at the moment. What The What!?
    Last season I had a season pass on iTunes because the channel airing Chuck put it on 4 month hiatus.

    You have raised many of the issues that make me rant too.

    • Shepperd of Lost Sheep says:

      Yet you have seen the S5 episodes. Hmm, curious.

      Are you old enough to rant?

      • Meandmine says:

        *shifty eyes*
        I think I’m of age to rant. As you would know, having witnessed my virtual rants on occasions. That’s R.A.N.T.S. 🙂

  7. dkd says:

    I’m not really following what you are saying about not watching Chuck anymore because you are going on vacation. Maybe I’m not reading it correctly. If it was me, I’d miss a few live, avoid spoilers, catch up on DVR when I get back, and pick it up live as soon afterward. No big deal.

    I was in LA for Chuckfest and watched in a hotel that Friday before. I’m going to be in Miami on the 16th, so I’ll probably watch in the hotel there. No big deal.

    BTW–I watch most episodes semi-live. Sometimes I don’t get home in time. I DVR it in order to rewatch. I never really used Hulu or to rewatch the episodes, so I’m not really missing that the shows not there. If I’m home, I don’t see the point of watching on a PC if I can watch off the DVR on a 48″ screen. I don’t like to watch TV on PC at work.

    I have purchased episodes from iTunes. I’m a train commuter and watching TV on the train is something I do to pass the time, but even last season, they didn’t become available on iTunes until later.

    I have comments on a lot of your other observations. You have some information wrong. But, I have to get back to work right now.

    • Ernie Davis says:

      As far as dropping out, you are right, most fans wouldn’t consider it a big deal. Me? I’ll probably get the shakes when I can’t blog or see an episode of Chuck everyone else has seen for a whole week. I’ll miss the 23rd, so I’ll drop off the blog and skip the 30th till I catch 307 and 308 on the DVR, basically because they aren’t available online. Point being I’ll be skipping one live viewing solely because I won’t have a way to catch up other than DVR. I’ll be back to watching live the 6th.

      As far as my observations, they are just that, personal impressions and speculation. I claim no insider knowledge, but any light you can shed on the way networks work would certainly be welcome.

    • dkd says:

      I understand now. For some reason, it sounded like you were quitting the show entirely because you were skipping a few weeks.

      One thing I’ll say is that this is probably a crucial time for WB with Chuck. They’ve been producing at a loss and now it is time to sell it into syndication and make their money back. The value of the show goes down if it doesn’t have “repeatability”–the ability of repeats to get decent ratings for the network that buys it.

      The removal of Chuck from alternate screens at this time, may have something to do with that. It may have nothing to do with NBC’s license.

      The bottom line is that we don’t know what or who is behind the decision. So, laying the blame at NBC’s feet and its business model may be incorrect.

      BTW–Broadcast network primetime CPM’s are still very, very high. Advertisers still pay as much of a premium for it as Sports. They don’t pay for timeshifters who don’t watch the ads, but they do pay premium rates for those who do–which is about equal to the Live + same day ratings that we see published.

      • Ernie Davis says:

        I wasn’t trying to blame NBC, so if I gave that impression sorry. It has been NBC that was responsible in the past, most notably season 4 where the sale of NBC to comcast contained the condition that NBC make more shows available through venues such as iTunes and Amazon. Chuck only became available on iTunes after the sale went through. As has been noted several places in comments however, this time we aren’t sure. I wouldn’t be surprised if it is as you speculate, related to a syndication deal.

        As for the zombie buisness model, yes, noted, sports still do well. But my understanding is that the vast majority of TV shows lose money for the studios unless they reach syndication. I doubt that was the case even 20 and almost certainly not 30 years ago when broadcast networks still had a lot more viewers. If network TV can’t charge advertisers enough to pay for the content they air, that is not something I see as sustainable in the long run. In other words if TV networks count on studios being willing to provide content at a loss to themselves on the gamble they get to syndication, that is a broken business model. Network profits being dependant on studio losses leaves the networks essentially at the mercy of the studios willingness to operate at a loss for the most part. If the studios decide not to gamble or to find another less risky or more lucrative venue, the network is S.O.L.

      • dkd says:


        “But my understanding is that the vast majority of TV shows lose money for the studios unless they reach syndication. I doubt that was the case even 20 and almost certainly not 30 years ago when broadcast networks still had a lot more viewers.”

        It’s always been true. That’s why syndication and the old “100 episode” rule has been around for decades. There are a few shows that make money while still under network license. When ER was NBC’s #1 show and it’s ratings were huge, WB could hold NBC over a battle and actually make a profit before it went into syndication.

        Yes, the proliferation of channels and ad-skipping technology have made it harder. The networks respond by having cheaper shows. They also respond by selling advertising in other streams, such as the ads you see on

        NBC doesn’t live in a corporate vacuum. It is part of a conglomerate that makes more money off of its cable channels than it does from NBC. The networks now have a symbiotic arrangement. NBC shows aren’t just promoted on NBC. They are cross-promoted across all the networks they own. It’s the same with every broadcast network.

        The only solution to the ad-supported model is to do what HBO does–get the consumer to pay for the show. To be honest, I don’t think Chuck would have lasted this long if it relied on that model. The Season 4 DVD’s didn’t even sell that well. In the U.S., less than 40% of households subscribe to a pay channel.. Food for thought: The Sopranos produced 86 episodes. Chuck will have 91.

        In fact, the old model of relying on syndication revenue to produce a profit on the show is the only reason we even have a season 5. Someone at Warner Brothers thought those extra 13 episodes were worth it. I hope they are right for the sake of the next cult show that wants to go five seasons with a relatively small audience.

    • dkd says:

      ,,,,the more I think about it, the more I’d lay money that this decision to limit Chuck access is related to the syndication deal.

      Any money they might make off of showing the eps on Hulu or is peanuts compared to what a syndication deal is worth. The whole reason WB sold Chuck to NBC on the cheap was to sweeten the money they could get from syndication.

      Piracy is not a huge problem. I have yet to see some actual numbers on how many people actually view that way and how many are in the U.S.

      • jason says:

        DKD – you seem to know a boatload about this, a few general ?’s if you have a chance?

        1 – Do cable networks (USA for example with White Collar, Burn Notice, Covert Affairs) have smaller, bigger, or the same budgets vs network TV?

        2 – Is it possible Chuck won’t get syndicated at all? I read something that Fringe is worried about that, because the show is so highly serialized & somewhat confusing even if you watch week to week …. Chuck although much more procedural, still is serialized when all is said and done.

        3 – Is part of the problem with NBC TV their fascination with serialized programming? Seems CBS & ABC & cable whack out far more procedurals, do far less 12 hrs and 55 minutes of gloom for 5 minutes of payoff. Even here, the order of watching seems to impact even intense fans, and if you were starting Chuck from the start, watching 3×14 or 15 or any of s4/s5 before the previous 40 – 45 eps, would sort of ruin the major hook of those first 2 1/2 seasons?

      • DKD might have more complete answers than me, but I’ll take a shot.
        1. Show budgets vary greatly. Typically, broadcast networks and subscription cable (e.g. HBO) have higher budgets than cable networks and direct-to-syndication. CW might be closer to cable. However individual show budgets still vary greatly. Actors get paid less for cable and the overall production quality is less (fewer on location, lower special effects budgets, etc.) Chuck’s budget was reduced to help get renewal before season 3. I don’t know if that means it started higher than most shows and was lowered to the normal range (which would be tough for a spy show), or if it is lower.

        2. Yes. I’ve been wondering what cable network would want Chuck. TNT has the Warner Bros link, but I doubt it is high enough ratings. They’ve been showing Las Vegas for a while, so who knows. USA and A&E only seems to syndicate the big audience procedurals: Law & Order, CSI, NCIS. FX has sit-coms. The rest of the networks are more niche to a certain genre. Spike and SyFy are the only two of those that make a little sense. SyFy’s schedule would be sporadic at best. In all of these cases, it would probably be shown during the work day.

        3. I don’t think the problem is with NBC exclusively. Most cable scripted shows are partially serialized. They are considered very successful, yet their ratings are lower than Chuck’s every was on Monday. ABC does serials: Lost, Once Upon a Time, Revenge. Even procedurals like NCIS, Castle, and Bones have some serial plot lines. They get completely forgotten in between. Chuck has been hard to classify because there are not really any other hour-long action-romance-comedies-with-a-little-drama. I would expect that it makes it hard to sell.

      • dkd says:

        Jeff did a good job, but I’ll take a shot too:

        1 – Do cable networks (USA for example with White Collar, Burn Notice, Covert Affairs) have smaller, bigger, or the same budgets vs network TV?

        They are generally lower. But, I think HBO/Showtime budgets are comparable. You’ll notice that most cable shows are not filmed in Hollywood.

        Cable networks do have two revenue streams–advertising and subscription fees from the MSO’s. But, the CPM’s they get from advertisers are much lower than broadcast. This goes back to cable setting a low base when it first got started.

        There is a published book called “TV Dimensions” (Median Dynamics Inc.) The Primetime Broadcast CPM is for the 2010-11 season was listed as $30.88 for Adults 18-49, while cable prime is $20.61. This means that even though a cable show can have the same rating, the broadcast show gets paid more for it.

        2 – Is it possible Chuck won’t get syndicated at all? I read something that Fringe is worried about that, because the show is so highly serialized & somewhat confusing even if you watch week to week …. Chuck although much more procedural, still is serialized when all is said and done.

        Chuck will get syndicated. Somebody will buy the repeat rights. The question is who and how much they will pay. Serialized shows don’t command the same price as a good standalone show. But, Chuck isn’t super-serialized. Where Lost may have been a 10 on a serialized scale, Chuck is probably a 7 or 8.

        The question is how will it be syndicated. Will it only be sold to a cable network or will it also be distributed by WB Syndication as a barter show to broadcast stations? If its only sold to cable networks, WB gets the license fee and that’s it. If WB takes it to barter syndication, they will sell half of the advertising time themselves to advertisers while local stations get the other half. for more information on shows WB distributes this way.

        3 – Is part of the problem with NBC TV their fascination with serialized programming? Seems CBS & ABC & cable whack out far more procedurals, do far less 12 hrs and 55 minutes of gloom for 5 minutes of payoff. Even here, the order of watching seems to impact even intense fans, and if you were starting Chuck from the start, watching 3×14 or 15 or any of s4/s5 before the previous 40 – 45 eps, would sort of ruin the major hook of those first 2 1/2 seasons?

        Ask different people this question and you get different answers. NBC hasn’t been incapable of doing procedurals. They owned the Law & Order franchise for years before it petered out on them. IMO, NBC has been enamored with shows that appeal to a higher educated person. Their Thursday sitcoms have some of the highest compositions for college graduates in TV. Unfortunately, not everyone in the U.S. is a college graduate. So, it doesn’t always produce high ratings.

        They have certainly tried procedurals. This year’s Prime Suspect was a procedural, but not enough people watched. Harry’s Law is a procedural. They still have one L&O show. Procedurals appeal to an older audience. CBS has the oldest median age of the major networks.

      • dkd says:


        IF Warner Brothers intends to do barter syndication with Chuck as well as sell it to a cable network, those announcements are usually made in the early winter. There’s a big syndication convention called NATPE that occurs in late January. The local station programmers gather and get wined and dined and entertained by the syndicators in order to get them to carry their shows.

        Then, the show actually starts running the following Fall.

      • jason says:

        Thanks to both you guys, I love getting educated … never too old to learn!

  8. jason says:

    Ernie – nice job generating some interest, not a topic near or dear to me, but it did generate one idea, maybe it was part of what you were getting at? When you wrote about ‘paying for something more than once’ in conjunction with getting us to watch 17 minutes of ads for 43 minutes of tv, that made me wonder – what if the ads were imbedded right in the show, 60 minutes of Chuck with 17 minutes of advertising sewn in (we have product placement already, this would just be more). Once the show was created, advertisers / owners of the product, would welcome any and all distribution?

    • Ernie Davis says:

      Jason, first thanks. Second I think till now the fans have been pretty good humored about the product placement. I don’t know how they’d react to more however. Still we could go back to the old days where one sponsor paid for the whole show, so it could be the Subway Chuck Hour brought to you by Subway. OK, maybe not. 😉 But this is one area where I think Chuck has been an innovator. In going directly to potential advertisers for product placement they’ve also pretty much guaranteed NBC some advertisers in their timeslot. My understanding is that the networks reserve a certain amount of ad time for themselves to sell at a premium to advertisers who want a specific show and/or timeslot (as opposed to selling blocks of time or what is reserved for local affiliates). By doing product placement for Toyota or Subway they pretty much guarantee that Toyota and Subway will buy some of that premium ad time to maximize their impact. Those of you who go to RewardTV probably noticed that a lot of the questions are about how well we retain that information. Of course this may work both ways. Will Honda want to advertise on a show that is constantly talking about Toyotas?

    • joe says:

      That “17 minutes of ads” is an interesting concept, especially when 1) Mark Christopher Lawrence is inhaling a Subway sandwich on the show and 2) There’s a “spider” in the corner of my screen and a pop up ad for the next show in the other corner.

      Well, okay, the “networks” aren’t doing that – yet. But the advertising is almost constant on the cable networks. As much as I like Piper Perabo, I find the ads on USA to be distracting when they’re running while I’m watching the show being broadcast.

      Yeah, yeah. I’m such an old fogy. In my curmudgeonhood, I rebel against the business model that still makes me watch ads even though the cost of my signal is now sky-high. I’m not looking forward to the day when my eyeglasses are used to show me ads – having them on cell-phones is enough. I know they want to print ads on the insides of my eyelids.

      This comment was brought to you by The Conspiracy Theory Underground, a subsidiary of ChuckThis! Inc.

    • atcDave says:

      That used to be fairly common Jason (1950s era) to just embed the ad in the show. But I don’t think the style is well liked by anyone. For the viewer, it means sitting through advertising content even when you’ve paid for the show. And for the advertiser it means stale content on obsolete product and out of date pricing.
      I HOPE we don’t see a return to any such thing.

      • jason says:

        I don’t know Dave, that subliminal strategy from the 50’s we all watched as kids, won Ronald Reagan a pair of presidential landslides in the 80’s & didn’t do so poorly for General Electric either?????

      • Microsoft, Apple and Dell do logo product placement in dozens of shows. Apple pays for product placement on Chuck. They are less overt than Toyota and Subway. These companies are acknowledged in the DVD credits, so I assume they paid higher ad rates. Only certain companies with less timely product messages would be willing to do that. Local ads, promotional ads for the nightly news and other shows, and AdCouncil ads would always take some air time.

        One thing that disappointed me about Awesome’s Buy More ad was it wasn’t at the end of a commercial break so it would look more like a real ad. Babylon 5 had an entire episode presented like a news digest show (like 48 hours or 20/20). It wasn’t one of the best episodes, but they had a fake commercial for kids to get tested for the Psi-Corp. It was really funny.

      • atcDave says:

        Jason I don’t think simple product placement could ever replace 17 minutes of advertising. I think what Chuck currently does is pushing the limits of what most viewers will accept before it starts feeling really cheesy. Now I do agree that sort of placement will remain a viable source of supplemental revenue. But replacing the bulk of commercial spots is a much bigger problem.

      • ArmySFC says:

        Dave i agree with product placement. one problem is that you need to be a fan of the product to know what it is. just this week some one posted here about a special key board used by gamers. how many non gamers would know what kind of key board it was?

        an example is cars. you may recognize the emblem but what model are they pushing? look at sarah’s new car, how many people know what it is? same for the TV’s on the wall in buy more, what are the brands? the cost? during a commercial, say for wally world, they show you the items they have on sale, that’s what gets you to go or make a separate trip to buy the item. just showing the outside of one wont get that response.

    • jason says:

      Ernie / Joe – but then the point is, Subway or Honda or Toyota would want max distribution, the internet would explode with legal links to the shows that utilize the strategy, essentially the early adapters could get a huge leg up on bang for their ad dollar (if Toyota does it and Chevy doesn’t?) – maybe – pure conjecture – etc????? For example, think of all the illegal music downloaded the past 10-15 years, had someone figured out a way to sneak even a little ad into that process, that ad would have been viewed ‘over and over and over again’ (some song should use that phrase!). Joe, watching BM eat those sandwiches kind of grosses me out, but I seem to recall the first time I typed onto my computer screen I was pretty freaked out too, ah yes, ‘times they are a changin’.

      • joe says:

        “The Times They Are A-Changing”??? Did you just subliminally plant an ad for Bob Dylan in a comment, Jason? I think you should contact him for reimbursement! Services rendered, you know! 😉

      • jason says:

        Joe – I wish I did have a dime for every time someone said something and thought of Dylan. I do think some smart 20 something in the entertainment field will figure this out, and make a bazillion bucks as result while revolutionizing entertainment for the next 50 years or so – heck – might even be our boy Zachary? Zac – if you are out there reading this – I’d be glad to serve as the ‘old guy’ in the room while you are figuring this stuff out!

  9. Nielsen Guru says:

    Here are facts:

    *The Nielsen model changes all the time. It works for many shows just not the one you love.
    *Advertisers pay to see results not conjecture.
    *WB gave “Chuck” to NBC for pennies on the dollar to make syndication where it makes its money back.
    *Advertisers didn’t approach NBC to keep it on the air for a fifth season.

  10. thinkling says:

    Great post Ernie. As someone who spends half the year outside the US, I get entertainment in a variety of ways. More and more I rely on non-traditional methods that suit my geography and my schedule. Chuck is the only show (other than news) that I watch on the day it airs, and that only when we’re in the US. Everything else I watch from the DVR or the internet.

    Things are defiinitely changing. It will be interesting to me to see how the networks adjust to keep up. I agree that the old model (including Nielsen) is a Zombie — good parallel.

    • Ernie Davis says:

      I’m pretty much the same (except for living outside the states half the year). I watch Chuck, sports, and news live, and everything else is either DVR or streamed from Netflix or Amazon. If cable were sold a la carte I’d have about a dozen channels.

      That said Dave has a point below. Network TV can support itself, just not as it was, producing original drama and comedy pretty much exclusively. I think the demands of a network schedule and their ability to deliver an audience will drive more of the drama towards cable and pay channels who air an episode more than once a season. Still I wonder about the future of the networks. The NFL is already trying to milk more out of their monopoly with the NFL channel and Sunday Package. Were they able to set up a widely available online streaming channel I wonder if there might be a temptation to capture those advertising and pay per view dollars for themselves? The fans would revold, but hey, who cares if the fans are revolting. 😉 It’s not like they can get football anywhere else, is it?

      • ArmySFC says:

        ernie, baseball has that already with MLBTV. you can get all games streamed live if you don’t live in the market area and it’s not a network game. it designed so that in philly i have to watch live.

      • atcDave says:

        I think its safe to say major sports will continue to challenge and exploit this modern information age every which way they can. Living out of market for my Bears I am pretty much stuck with “Sunday Ticket.” I really don’t watch 16 games in a weekend, but its the only (expensive) way of getting the Bears every week. Ironically, in years when the Bears are doing well, they end up on a lot of late or featured games; and I may only “need” the Sunday Ticket for 4 or 5 games a year. The only real trick is when the Bears play the Lions in Detroit in one of the (many) seasons when the Lions aren’t doing well; if the game is locally blacked out I can’t get it on Sunday Ticket either!
        I would love a cheaper a la carte option for my football viewing; but I think the NFL knows exactly what they’re doing in making me pay for every game.

  11. atcDave says:

    Let’s see; I make a point of watching live, while my DVR is recording. I’ll do all subsequent re-watches via DVR UNTIL I can buy through iTunes and quit watching those pesky commercials. Then I buy again when the Blu-Rays come out so I can have a 1080p picture and a more “permanent” copy. In the past, I have also bought a DVD set for more portable usage, but then I figured out it was easier to just get the right cables for my iPod so I can watch pretty much anywhere without even having the discs. So even S3 and S4 I purchased two copies of; and will likely do the same with S5 (“likely” as in I can’t imagine a scenario where I wouldn’t)

    I do think its a bit of exaggeration to describe the broadcast model as “dead.” “Changing” might be a better word. I think its likely sports will remain profitable for networks for a long time to come. Possibly along with the cheap “reality” programs. But quality scripted content may continue to migrate towards the various cable outlets which seem to be doing quite well with it right now (fully 50% of the programming we watch is on USA!)
    But I do think withholding programming from alternative outlets is foolish and short sighted, sort of one last spit in the face at Chuck fans. Which leads me to your question “how much loyalty do we owe NBC?” I do see two sides to this. On the one hand they did give Chuck multiple chances, that ultimately lead to a respectably long run. And I do feel some appreciation to NBC for taking that chance. I would like to support them by watching more of their programs in exchange. BUT; the multiple chances may have had more to do with the network’s desperation than any actual support of our show, AND they cut Chuck’s budget to a level that was obvious on screen, they gave very little promotional support (I sympathize that NBC was burned by giving support right up to the S3 fiasco; but they pretty much pulled the plug thereafter), never showed reruns, stuck us in a lousy time slot(s), and played games with Internet availability. So my affection for NBC has actually been sorely tested these last few years. In the end, I think my feelings towards NBC will remain mixed and the network will neither benefit nor be penalized in my home.

    • atcDave says:

      Oh I do have to add about the holidays; looking at my schedule I may not be able to watch 5.07 until the night of the 26th. That’s the closest I’ll come to missing anything, so skipping or watching out of sequence isn’t an issue to me. How much of a fuss I’m willing to make to try to watch that episode sooner I can’t say for sure. But I will probably (???) avoid this site until I’m able to watch that episode.

  12. Faith says:

    My problem with this post is it acts as if the broadcast model is personally affecting just Chuck, or rather NBC is screwing Chuck over again. I have a Netflix subscription, a Hulu+ subscription and recently an Amazon Prime subscription. The problem with these sources is they just aren’t viable (enough) as of yet. For Hulu, it’s an industry wide highway robbery. I can’t watch the things I could watch on syndication like Smallville, I have to watch 2 commercials each commercial break and it takes 30 days for me to see USA Network shows. The industry is flawed, this whole “they aren’t showing Chuck at all this season screws us over” isn’t the only problem. Until the market experiences an overhaul, broadcast network and advertising will still be king. Regardless of how much we bemoan Nielsen, they still bring the big bucks and they are still representative of the American TV Viewing public. I count myself lucky to have been a part of a show that have outlived not just what the pundits presumed would be its life cycle, but 2/3 of the network’s shows as well.

    I’m not saying that studios and the networks aren’t greedy bastards, but rather they are businesses and they will go where the money is. For us (as in Chuck), I’d be hesitant to bite the hand that feeds me.

    As for the future of television, Arrested Development is getting life breathed into them via Netflix. How viable will it be? We’ll see. It is perhaps the first experiment of its kind. But I do think had Steve Jobs had his way, TV episodes would be 99c an episode and we’d be farther into the future of television than we are today as studios and networks haggle over pennies.

    • Ernie Davis says:

      I’m not trying to blame anyone for trying to make a buck, or get their money’s worth out of what they spend on advertising, this is more about how the viewers seem to have moved on from the model the networks (and advertisers) still cling to. And that seems to only be increasing and causing alienation at times, particularly in the Chuck fandom since this is a Chuck site.

      As for bemoaning someone screwing over Chuck fans in particular, like I said, from season 3 onward, Chuck is the only WB or NBC show that seems to have this continual problem with Amazon and iTunes. You can get episodes of everything from Community to Castle the day after they air. Just for some reason, not Chuck. It’s an observation, not an indictment of anyone in particular.

      • Castle wasn’t available with Comcast OnDemand until this year. It is produced and distributed by ABC. Community is on NBC, but it is produced by Sony. Maybe the problem is specific contract negotiators for Chuck/WB/NBC.

      • Ernie Davis says:

        I haven’t looked at this in depth for a while, but in both season 3 and season 4 I checked, and Chuck seemed to be a unique case on iTunes for both WB shows on any broadcast network and for NBC shows whether produced by NBC Universal or not. I didn’t really look into OnDemand. So again, I’m not trying to lay this at NBC’s feet, but in the past it has seemed that for whatever reason Chuck was singled out. Getting it again in the final season just leaves a bad taste in my mouth. I appreciate that NBC’s new management had the class to give Chuck a proper sendoff, but to me that just makes up for a host of sins comitted by the previous management.

    • joe says:

      This is making the news today. Okay – we’re not a political site here, and this one comes uncomfortably close to that line. The gist of the story is that NBC-U is strong-arming it’s partners to sign a petition in support of anti-piracy legislation. That legislation is often described with the words “controversial” and “censorship” in close proximity.

      The implicit threat to the partners makes me believe that NBC-U’s new management has made the issue of distribution (legal and otherwise) a top priority. That may have something to do with the episodes not being available on-line.

      • dkd says:

        If all of NBC’s shows were removed from Hulu or, the theory might hold. But, I doubt it has much to do with it.

        Whatever is going on is unique to Chuck. I believe WB is behind it.

    • dkd says:

      I really don’t think it is “greed” when a company like Warner Brothers produces a show at a deficit and merely wants to make its money back and a profit in the end. Whether you are an individual or a corporation, you want your investments to pay off.

  13. alex says:

    For anyone in Australia if you watch an American show that is on free to air tv in Aus. you will be watching half a year later and there are people happy to do that, like there are people happy to watch shows a couple months behind the US on the cable networks we have here down under. However most teenagers and young adults under the age of 24 don’t wait for the shows to be on television rather they use the internet and the many wonderful sources its provides. At least, in a small country like Australia, to stay up to date and current with overseas material you have to use the interweb there just isn’t another option. Networks down here wait to air stuff in our ratings season, rather than putting it on as soon as they legally can because American shows are for the most part originally aired during the non-ratings season in Australia, thus the internet is required.

  14. Ernie Davis says:

    I meant to comment earlier on something Joe said that plays in to the “cost” of the show on the network. The freakin’ popups, logos, ratings and ads that even the networks now seem to freely sprinkle throughout the actual show. It is visually distracting and the main reason I go to Amazon or iTunes for re-watches ASAP. God help you if there’s a tornado or severe thunderstorm watch while Chuck is showing. Your local affiliate is likely to make the actual TV show (you know, the thing you tune in for) a window in the corner of the screen showing all the warnings, watches and doppler radars. Yes, granted, severe weather warnings are important (though I think they get carried away nowdays in the quest for “breaking news”, like “rain” or “snow”), but if they are important enough to merit more than the banner scrolling across the bottom of the screen, they’re important enough to just plain interupt the show and show it later, not as a postage stamp size window in the corner of the screen.

    • atcDave says:

      We had all the networks here excited over “1 to 2 inches of snow”. Sure its the first snow of the season, but this is Michigan! Get over it, it snows….

      I’m just glad Chuck wasn’t on when the “news” broke.

  15. Laz W says:

    This post was interesting, although depressing. I won’t bootleg Chuck. I have the first four seasons in iTunes. I imagine that will purchase the last season on DVD. I think that it is a shame that Chuck fans have to suffer while NBC or Warner Bros figure out what they are going to do. I for one am so tired of having to wait for episodes and not knowing if or when I am going to get them – I have decided to boycott NBC. I will watch the last season of Chuck. After that no more NBC. I have heard great things about Grimm, but why should I purchase season 1 on iTunes. I won’t go through the same crap that I have with Chuck. Aside from purchasing Chuck on iTunes, I’ve purchased many of the songs from the show through iTunes and Amazon. I have also purchased 6 sets of Chuck on DVD and given them to friends. I doubt it will make a difference (and a 1 person boycott is futile), but NBC won’t get another cent of my money.

    • I don’t watch Grimm, but it is produced by NBC, which means it might not have the contract negotiation issues that WB-produced Chuck has.

    • joe says:

      Hi, Laz. I don’t recall seeing your handle before. If this is your first time commenting, welcome to the discussion!

      Yeah, I’m a little put off by the coldness of it all, myself. I mean, I haven’t heard word that DVDs will be coming out for S5, I’m only assuming. I await Amazon’s announcement to pre-order them with bated breath.

      Or something. I’m not going to pirate the vids either, but man, the games they’re playing seem like an invitation.

      • With no opportunity to promote S5 DVDs with S6, the DVDs might be released this spring! (Trying to stay positive).

      • atcDave says:

        Yeah they usually release them right away when the show has ended; so maybe as early as February.

      • Laz W says:

        Thanks for the warm welcome Joe, I found the site searching for info on Chuck. I have been checking back since Faith’s post on November 8th. I doubt that I will be posting much since I am not able to watch season 5. Thanks for providing the opportunity for me to vent a bit.

  16. Big Kev says:

    Great post Ernie, and an interesting discussion.

    I don’t necessarily think the network TV model is dead (sadly) – but I can definitely see a future where the networks run almost exclusively lower-cost, lowest common denominator stuff like reality TV, game shows and major sporting events, with all the more original, edgier programming heading to cable. It’s happening already, and I can only see the trend continuing.
    The ideal for me would be a selection of genre channels, funded by a mix of subscription and advertising. For my subscription, I would have the ability to watch from anywhere in the world, on any platform I wanted – and I’d also have a high proportion of stuff on that channel that I would actually want to watch. From an advertisers point of view, they could use that subscription data to target their advertising, and presumably get more bang for their bucks. Sounds like a win/win to me.

    I have no idea when that will come about. But in the meantime, networks continue to churn out stuff that I don’t want to watch, then tell me that I can’t watch the rare program that I do like until 12 months after the US, just because I live in Australia – despite the fact that I would happily pay to watch the shows I want to watch, when I want to watch them. So I use the time-honoured “other methods” and frankly, don’t feel at all guilty for doing so. If the model refuses to meet my needs as a consumer, I’ll either find another way to watch, or find something else to do with my time.

    I’m sure the withdrawl of Chuck from streaming sites is related to WB and syndication. I can’t quite work out why, because presumably the goal of syndication (for the buyer) is to reach new fans for the show, and hence for their network – none of whom would be the ones currently trying to stream Chuck. Just doesn’t make sense.
    These network execs trying to control access to content in this age of exploding technological capability just seem like King Canute at the water’s edge to me, commanding the tide to stop coming in. The distribution battle is being won by technology – the question is how the industry as a whole responds to that.

    • Ernie Davis says:

      Thanks for your thoughts Kev, some interesting stuff to mull over. Where to begin. I guess I probably over-state the “Network TV is Dead” a bit, but for me it has been so for a decade. I just plain don’t watch it live. Ever. Except for Chuck. Once I got in the habit of recording Chuck I branched out to record The Big Bang Theory and Community, and now Castle. Before I’d catch those shows a season at a time when they came out on DVD. So for me, for years, broadcast network programming has been absolutely irrelevant to what I watch, other than the fact that a number of shows I like were origionally aired and then promptly canceled by a broadcast network (see Firefly, Wonderfalls). I didn’t know the time, channel, network, any of it. I checked out imdb and Netflix, and now Amazon for what to watch. So again, perhaps I overstate, but I know there are more people like me than you’d think. I’ve made occasional forrays into recording some shows like Heroes and BSG, but that usually ended in just waiting for the DVD or buying on iTunes when I missed an episode, or giving up when the show lost it’s way in the second or third season… Still need to finish watching BSG some day. Heroes is a lost cause, Much as I loved it’s first season and struggleg through the start of the second, I don’t care anymore.

      But back on topic. My biggest beef with all the broadcast networks is the quality of what they show and how they treat the material. The quality I suppose can’t be helped. As you say, lowest common denominator, or mass general appeal. What they do with the little bit of good stuff that gets through however just irks me. If a show is successful, all effort suddenly goes into having any sort of serial story tread water for the maximum number of seasons, making any sort of character growth or evolution either impossible or totally at the mercy of the plot of the week. If something catches the viewers fancy, flog it to death (I lost interest in Ross and Rachel pretty quickly). The really clever ones lately give a main character asperger’s syndrom to justify their complete lack of social awareness (and self awareness) and to guarantee that no change or movement in that character’s charming cluelessness or change from that irascible rapscallion or iconoclast. Those shows depend totally on that character’s stagnation for their comedy and drama, and thus flog that character to death quickly. So HIMYM becomes the “look how funny Barney is” show and TBBT becomes the “look how quirky Sheldon is” show. I think Bones and House do something similar, but I’ve never watched them except in passing. When a show doesn’t have an immediate hook like that it seems the networks have no idea how to promote or market it. Cable does a much better job, but then cable shows episodes run more than once, or at most twice a season, giving viewers multiple opportunities to join the show and meet the characters. The few than manage to avoid those fates on the networks, like Castle and Chuck, seem to rely almost entirely on the skill of the actors to pull in the audience. Nobody can match Nathan Filion for that charming rascal persona, and few can match Yvonne Strahovski or Zach Levi for empathy and chemistry. But even then the tendancy is to abuse and draw out what draws the audience in.

      In general I think we’d be better off if the niche shows like Chuck or Firefly went into production with a comitment to 3-5 seasons and a definite end, with the major story arcs better drawn ahead of time, but still allowing the show enough leeway to react to what the audience invests in. For instrance if Firefly were to go on I think River would have had to show some irreversable progress by the second or third season, and Kaylee and Simon were too sweet and clueless for their WT/WT to last more than another season. Mal and Inara could have danced around each other for most of the run of the show, and Book’s background remaining mysterious would have fit with the central mystery, what did the alliance do to River and why did they want her back? If we knew that there was going to be a season 4 of Chuck we’d have (perhaps) been a lot more tolerant, and ready to see the story of both Chuck and Sarah seeming to each pass the other by, their seperate journies taking them on different paths (for a while) rather than bemoan the waste of the Zach/Yvonne chemistry in the final few episodes. Shaw would still have been a wet blanket, but perhaps not the end of the world… (obligatory Chuckwins law disclaimer).

      I don’t know how or when it might come about, but to me, network TV seems designed to produce exactly the kind of “entertainment” that bugs me most, and to kill the stuff that actually works. I hope somebody comes up with a better way to get the entertainment (the real product) to the audience. Based on our polls, Kev, going multi-platform and worldwide would be a good start.

      • jason says:

        Ernie, until Chuck I did not pay that much attention to the shows I watched for romance as it always is sort of a given, I either enjoyed what I watched or not, but with little emotion either way. As far as I know, I was not a huge shipper, and was more interested in pure sci fi (Star Wars & Trek), or action (Bond / Bourne type stuff) or family type stuff (I liked the Walton’s for goodness sakes).

        But, since Chuck, I pay very close attention. Either other shows have learned from Chuck, or Chuck uniquely made me angry how they treated their lead romantic story. I find Castle, Fringe, Firefly, Burn Notice, Covert Affairs (especially), Warehouse 13, Eureka all are sort of the same show when talking about the wt/wt, but none of those ‘ships’ bother me at all, most all of it is played for fun with care to not damage either of the central characters, especially as they relate to each other …. so either they all learned from Chuck’s mistakes, or Chuck uniquely wrote bad TV for me and evidently many others during ‘Chuckwin’s’ glory.

        But Chuck was able to finish the story, and for that I am grateful. But regardless of how the story finishes, I am most grateful for the 6 plus 24 plus now 4 running episodes and hopefully 9 more with Chuck and Sarah together and true to themselves and each other …. far more than most of the above mentioned shows (an exception may be Burn Notice, where lets face it, Micheal and Fiona have been going at it like rabbits behind the scenes since the pilot)

      • Interesting list, Jason. My take on those shows…
        Burn Notice screwed up with the break-up and paramedic a few years back. They pretend it didn’t happen now. Their relationship makes sense for their characters, but until this Anson arc, Michael really hadn’t show Fiona that he cares that much. She was always second. It’s like a perpetual season 3, just with sex.
        In Warehouse 13, the leads are in the ‘friends zone’. Any romance at this point will seem weird to me.
        Covert Affairs is so early they haven’t had a chance to screw it up yet. We’ll see what happens next week. I’m worried because it seems too soon and USA is promoting it too much.
        Castle is actually pretty bad, but the fan base is in denial. They’ve done Prague three times in that show, but the fans don’t care. However, Caskett is slowly getting to a good place. Chuck’s fan base would never have had the patience.
        I started watch Eureka when the WT/WT was almost resolved. To me, it seems like a side story (as it is in most of these shows), so it would be hard to mess up.

        Charah’s ‘last step’ was painful and a bit too long (still shorter than Caskett’s). I’ve said before that it was good, but not the most entertaining, storytelling. I think the show did a better job in the many steps of their relationship, the resolution, and the many episodes after the resolution than any of those other shows.

      • atcDave says:

        Some excellent comments Ernie. I agree entirely with your take on the problems with character “development” on network TV. And for once I agree entirely with your S3 comments. Although my dislike of it will likely always be stronger than yours, I think we agree exactly in principle. The things that were wrong with S3 would not have been a tenth as troublesome if we had known we would be getting two more seasons (although if TPTB had known they were getting two more seasons wt/wt might have dragged out even longer!)
        But in the end, they did take chances and show real growth both for characters and relationships in a way that is very rare on network TV. Castle seems to be following a similar path; but a slower pace which is fitting for both the show and the characters (rumor has it Castle and Beckett will be a couple next season).

        Also on a barely related note; the USA show Psych which often has a similar feel to Chuck in spite off being more of a pure comedy and buddy show (imagine if Chuck were insane and Morgan was CLEARLY the second most important character in the show; that’s pretty much Psych in a nutshell). But the female lead, secondary character though she may be, has always had a bit of a Sarah Walker vibe to her (as both the only competant and only dramatic character on the show). As of the end of their S4 the lead couple is together… and now we find out her daddy was a conman (and none other than William Shatner). Very funny.

      • Maybe I’m more tolerant of the first have of S3 because I saw the leaked call sheet for Honeymooners and the BTS picture of YS wearing the fake ring. Knowing there is more to the story always helps.

        Dave, the entire episode of Psych I was comparing Juliette’s dad to Sarah’s. It was one of the better Psych episodes, but it still paled in comparison to Delorean and Wedding Planner. Jules gets less screen time than Ellie. I think the actress is 4th billed, the same slot as Awesome in Chuck. After watching that show, the Chuck/Morgan bromance seems like a minor plot point.

      • joe says:

        I agree with most of that, Jeff, except for Castle. Both Castle and Beckett have enough charm to keep it out of the “bad” category. The murder-mystery aspect is a plus, much like the old Angela Lansbury vehicle doing the Agatha Christie stories.

        Another one is White Collar. Bomer brings the same charm to Neil Caffrey as he did to Bryce. DeKay and Garson are great, and I really enjoy the understated Tiffani Thiessen. The show is strictly a “buddy show” now, but the romance plot with Kate was well done for one season. They couldn’t sustain it, though, and seemed to know that. So they killed her off.

        In comparison, Chuck took much more of a risk bringing the characters together the way they did. Some say they had no choice, but I’m not so sure. There was always a choice. Making it last for more than a few episodes without losing the interest is tricky.

      • atcDave says:

        Jeff its funny with the conman comparison’s; even though Psych is more of a comedy than Chuck, Juliette’s dad seemed to have wronged her even more severely than Jack did Sarah! But in a way, the whole thing served to show how awesome Yvonne is as an actress; I mean nothing against Maggie Lawson, but the intensity we’re used to on Chuck is so much stronger.

        Also re. S3 (again! gee it just never gets old…) We all knew well here it would be ending by Honeymooners. We started seeing spoilers during the Olympic break, and there was even some hope the ship would right itself before then. But I hated that season from Pink Slip through Americann Hero. There were a few bright spots (Angel of Death, Operation Awesome, Beard); but six times that season (SIX!!) I found myself thinking I had a new least favorite episode (Pink Slip, First Class, Nacho Sampler, Mask, Fake Name, Final Exam).
        Sorry, it was just an utter disaster to me.

        I’ve never felt that way about Castle at all. But then I’ve never had the same intesity of reaction either way. They haven’t reached the same lows or highs that Chuck manages. So even if Castle and Beckett have had OLIs, they spend little time on screen; the show remains mainly about Castle annd Beckett’s friendship and working relationship. I’m tired of the wt/wt and am ready for them to move things along, but I’m not really frustrated or irate about it. It is what it is.

      • Joe, don’t get me wrong. I like all of those shows. And the Caskett chemistry is second only to Charah. You just need the patience of the cymbal player in The Man Who Knew Too Much ( I think all shows have problems with WT/WT in their own way.

      • jason says:

        Yea – my point was that nearly all one hour tv I watch has a ‘teased’ couple. Until Chuck and Sarah I never bothered much with caring about a couple as a couple more than I did about the show .

        Castle to me has gone 2% closer together since the first ep. Compared to Chuck, Rick and Kate never have purposefully harmed or betrayed the other, at times by commission or omission, but never wilfully or with vengeance or even with indifference.

        Those other shows all do it different from each other or Chuck, but all have the element of a lead couple, even if not together, like Augie and Annie on Covert Affairs. In any case, regardless of how it is done, I could care less about any of them.

        It would be one heck of an interesting discussion, was that certain way Chuck and Sarah affected people, the show’s saving grace or did that element hold the writers hostage to a certain way to tell the story, or maybe both?????

      • joe says:

        Jeff, your graphic just made me laugh. Congrats! 😉

        Jason, I almost forgot about Annie and Augie. That’s an interesting case, since they seemed to put each other in the “friend box” from the beginning. Getting out of there is always tough and slow going. It’s worth noting that next week’s episode seems to be on the verge of changing that.

        At least, that’s the tease. For me Perabo and Gorham have great chemistry and the writers are deliberately taking it as slowly as possible. We’ll see if they get a chance to take it anywhere near as far as Chuck&Sarah were able to.

      • atcDave says:

        Funny you guys would mention Covert Affairs. When I saw the preview with Auggie and Annie “together” (whatever that will actually end up being…) it really surprised me. I’ve never even thought of them as more than friends. Most tv story telling involves drawing out wt/wt past the point of utter stupidity; Covert Affairs may be skipping wt/wt entirely? My guess is it will actually be the start of that show’s own cycle of stupidity and nothing will feel resolved for many seasons yet.

      • I played percussion, Joe, so that cymbal player is the most sympathetic character I have ever seen in movies or TV. He has to wait 177 measures, and the whole time the movie-watching audience is rooting against him. They do want him to crash the cymbals because that is when the assassin is going to shoot.

      • joe says:

        Funny you guys would mention Covert Affairs.

        Oh yeah. I can’t claim to have a great handle on how the fans felt about it, but I’m pretty sure they thought Annie’s early affair with some other spy character (wow – I even forgot his name! That’s telling.) was pretty bogus. They were rooting for Annie&Auggie from the beginning.

        My feeling was just the opposite from yours, Dave. There was tons of WT/WT, and it was just more subdues than Chuck&Sarah’s. Their PTB chose to keep them apart by forcing the two into that friends-box early, despite the fans wishes. So that preview wasn’t surprising so much as it brought out the reaction “What took you so long???” 😉

        I fear you’re right about the stupidity continuing, though. If this was a tease I expect fans won’t have the patience to stick with it.

      • thinkling says:

        I like your multi-platform, international subscription idea, Kev. Perfect, I nominate you to be in charge. Like you, I also don’t feel guilty about using “other methods” overseas. I legitimize my collection as soon as I can. Ultimately maybe they’ll catch up and learn how to harness the trend instead of trying to stop it.

        Ah yes, wt/wt. Shows set up their series by the romcom/fairytale model, where you immediately know who is supposed to get together. In Chuck by 1.03 (if not sooner) we knew Chuck and Sarah were attracted to each other and belonged together. In a romcom, after two hours, they would have been together. Good model, but it does not work over multiple seasons of a TV series. They either wear it out to the point that the wt/wt becomes contrived and boring, and when the leads finally get together, it’s anti-climactic or the show itself has run its course. In Castle, they’ve passed that point, but at least they haven’t handled it as poorly as Chuck S3. Yes, if we’d known for sure we were getting a S4 and S5, I would have accepted the additional delay, but still not the way it was handled, and definitely not the OLI’s. That’s where Castle TPTB have been a little smarter, in that 1) they didn’t shatter the central relationship and 2) the OLI’s weren’t on screen, so we didn’t have to watch the leads with other people. Castle and Becket were still on screen together all the time and still had a good friendship going. Very different MO from the misery arc. But, hey, I’m over it. I like everything we’ve gotten since then, and I’m so glad Chuck has let the characters develop … all of them.

        I totally agree with the character development problem, Ernie. When a show depends on the immaturity and lack of growth in a character for its hook or comedy, I don’t stick around. House is a good example for me. Heroes lost me, too. Whenever they painted themselves into a corner, one of the characters suddenly developed another “gift,” and … voilà, problem solved. Snore. Chuck wins hands down for character growth and development.

        Yeah, Joe, I like the relationships on White Collar, too.

      • Ernie Davis says:

        I guess Caskett doesn’t bother me because despite the continued WT/WT, the relationship has evolved. It started out as a sort of power-play. The charming bad-boy playboy and the no-nonsense cop who needed to loosen up. It has evolved into something very different. Similar to the way Charah evolved, but still different.

        Charah very quickly became Romeo and Juliet, but then in season 3 they pulled the switch-up, and it wasn’t just the government in their way, but some really serious personal issues on both their parts. I was fine with some exploration of that, and think in the long run it added a lot to both characters, but it kind of hit a lot of fans as coming from nowhere. I think the breadcrumbs were there in s1 & s2, just not sufficiently referenced in s3.

      • atcDave says:

        What a shock, I completely agree with Thinkling about Chuck and Castle!

        Ernie I don’t think story-telling is the biggest reason why S3 failed for so many of us. Its a more emotional response. We’d been taken to the emotional peak a couple times on the show already, and Colonel is simply when it had to come to fruition. That was the time it felt right; that was when one more swing was simply exhausting and not fun anymore. I really don’t think it would have mattered if they did anything “better” in S3; time was up. Castle has a different timer because the emotional swings (intensity) is more subdued, and the character flaws of the leads are more “in your face.” With Castle, there is no denying Castle and Beckett were not ready for a serious relationship with each other for a long time.
        With Chuck, the situation was reversed; the emotions were more amped up while the character flaws were more subdued. So the timing needed to be different.
        Now you know I’m perfectly happy with how things have worked out and these couple seasons have been wonderful. But S3 was just a bad idea on several levels; ESPECIALLY the OLIs.

      • Shepperd of Lost Sheep says:

        They both had personal issues, no doubt. Too bad we never saw any of those resolved because it was more important to push the LI angle. An angle that completely overwhelmed any other relevant story. Of which there was just too much of.

        Listen, I like Castle as much as the next person. But it is bizarre (in a good way) that this blog compare an episodic show such as Castle to Chuck. OD tweeted the other day wondering what would the Castle writers have done with S3 of Chuck. I can’t imagine another show ever putting their primary couple in as poor a fashion as was done on Chuck. It will forever be a shame that something so cherished was treated so carelessly.

        Dave’s right, it never gets old, but S5 is helping.

      • If the Castle writers wrote Season 3 of Chuck… At the end of American Hero, Chuck would have told Sarah he loved her. Then Sarah would have been shot by Shaw, pretended she never heard Chuck, and then run away to Jack Burton’s cabin for two months. Six months later, they still would not have kissed. The would have come close in Phase 3, but Ellie would have interrupted their moment, just like Martha did in Cops & Robbers. Also Season 4 of Chuck would still have Sarah and Chuck not dating and hiding secrets from each other.

        From an objective standpoint, Castle’s UST and WT/WT is much worse than Chuck’s ever was. As thinkling pointed out, the key difference was Josh and Gina didn’t get much screen time, while Hannah and Shaw did. To me, that means the Castle writers did a poor job of developing the characters. There was no reason for those OLIs to still be in the picture. Also on Castle, the OLI relationships went on for a half season and a full season.

        Again, I really like Castle. However, the relationship better pay off by this spring it really will be pushing my percussionist patience.

      • armysfc says:

        Jeff, i won’t argue your theory on castle writers doing chuck season 3 from the point you started. my guess is if they did write s3, the first 13 would have been completely different. on castle neither one never really flaunted the OLI’s while on chuck they did. the friendship they had would not have suffered, the characters would not have been changed that much. i think if they had written s3 of chuck and handled it in a similar fashion the mass exodus you saw on chuck during s3 would not have happened, season 4 would have held the viewers because those viewers scared buy the events in season 3 would not be scared of a relapse and stayed during s4, season 5 would have gotten 22 eps not 13 and based on the fan reaction to s5 and the ratings holding steady you would probably be looking at getting a season 6 and not the end of the road.

        just a bit of information you may be interested in, prior to this season of castle TPTB put out a press release saying that they did not feel the fans were ready for them to be a couple yet and it would most likely not happen this season. so if your waiting for it to happen, you might be out of luck.

      • atcDave says:

        I’m not sure why Jeff but your reaction to Castle seems to be strongly different than what most of us are feeling. Castle definitely has a different and slower pace on these things than Chuck. I don’t think its about the audience, since so much of it is the same people. I think its just organic to the characters and the story. Now I’m sure there are other hard core Caskett ‘shippers who are eager for things to move along; but most of what I’m getting is that Chuck took the wt/wt way too far with the S3 arc (possibly other sorts of wt/wt, especially if Chuck and Sarah had more scenes together, could have worked. But what we got was offensive and obnoxious to many of us). While most folks seem to be more accepting of Castle’s slower timing. Don’t get me wrong, I think its time to move that story along too, but my enjoyment of the whole show doesn’t rest on it.

        And yeah army I’ve seen that too. I believe they’ve said Caskett will be a real item next season, but not this. That may mean something big will happen in this season’s finale, which would be great by me.

      • jason says:

        I’m going to say something from a different POV, this season of Castle seems more like season 4 of Chuck than season 2 or 3 of Chuck. The reason I say that, is Kate and Rick are slowly learning about each other for real, just as Chuck and Sarah did in Season 4 – the fun part of Chuck and Sarah is the physical attraction WAS present and strong & hard to deny, since the pilot really. Also, the two season 3’s seemed comparable to me, with LI’s involved, Castle just does everything (good and bad) less ‘epic’, slower, more in character & far, far more repetitive and predictable.

        One thing for my perspective, I love seeing Fillion fail to get Kate, it is funny cause he is so smug and arrogant, watching Chuck bumble and stumble is funny when he has Sarah, but when Sarah had a passionate outside love affair, Chuck’s hapless hopeless routine was, well, miserable to watch & given that Sarah seemed miserable also, that is not a great place to write comedy or warm character tv from, especially 13 episodes worth.

        My son & a few of his friends spent a few hours with a minor cast member from Castle in an odd twist of circumstance. They were told Castle is the most fun the person ever had on a show, that more than likely next season will be the last and an opinion of when Rick and Kate were going to ‘do it’. That plus given Fillion’s interviews on the subject, I would suggest patience for Castle shippers.

      • atcDave says:

        Jason an excellent point giving one very good reason why Chuck’s misery arc was no fun. As the hard luck character so many of us relate to, watching his suffering and misery was no fun at all. Although I’d add, watching his “happiness” in Fake Name was utterly revolting to me as well.

        I’m not so sure about Castle coming to an end. It’s well enough rated I would expect ABC to want to keep it going for a while yet (ratings will always matter more than “creative” issues). And Fillion’s comments ultimately don’t really matter; he’s simply regurgitating what they’re taught in school. Besides, Stana Katic is on record as saying the exact opposite; she thinks the wt/wt is already stale and would like to see it replaced with “Thin Man” style relationship humor.
        In the end, its what the show runner wants that will matter most (that, or studio/network mandates). And I believe we’ve heard clearly no “coupling” this season, but it probably will happen next season. How much longer the show runs is another matter. If the writers are able to keep the show fresh and fun (and I think changing the relationship status should actually help with that, unless they truly have no idea how to write a relationship) the audience will likely stick around and the show may run a few more years. If the audience gets bored at any stage the show will come to an end.

      • thinkling says:

        Just a parenthetical thought about wt/wt. I think when the relationship passes its natural moment, the moment when it is right for the couple to progress toward being a real couple (and those steps can be defined in different ways), the focus shifts away from the relationship to the wt/wt device. The more contrived the devices created to keep the couple apart, the more the wt/wt becomes the focal point of the story, and the actual relationship (the thing that we should enjoy watching develop naturally) is sidelined. This setup makes it all the more difficult to complete the transition into being a couple, and because wt/wt has become the focus, its resolution seems like the end instead of just a natural part of the story.

        On Castle, Becket gave Castle a plausible reason why they couldn’t be together when she explained why she broke up with whats-his-name. So, I can ride with that for a little while longer. The two couples are so different that you almost can’t compare them.

      • atcDave says:

        It is a funny thing about wt/wt, how it doesn’t really get mentioned until a certain watershed moment; after which it can dominate discussion until resolved. (among the S3 issues, wt/wt dominated all other aspects of story until 3.13).
        Thinkling I didn’t really buy Beckett’s excuse, but the nature and structure of Castle is such that I’m not particularly bothered by that. As long as they don’t use OLIs again I feel very patient (so far I’m fine with how this season has been handled).

      • I don’t have that big of a problem with the pace on Castle. It’s my 2nd favorite show on TV right now. I think it’s funny/odd/curious on the double standard between the fans of the two shows. Objectively, Castle has been been just as bad or worse than Chuck S3. For example 1) The only thing Sarah “did” to Chuck was the name reveal, and she didn’t know he was watching. She shouldn’t be expected to stay celibate while Chuck is sleeping with Hannah. One could argue Kate repeatedly rubbed her relationship with Josh in Castle’s face, even asking for advice about it. 2) The Castle S2 finale had a longer angst-filled break than then Olympics was for Chuck. 3) Kate has rarely ever verbally indicated she is slightly interested in Castle. Sarah was the opposite, letting Chuck know all of the time.

        I understand all of the arguments about Castle being written better than Chuck S3, and don’t need anyone to explain how they loathed Chuck S3. I just think there is a double standard.

      • atcDave says:

        Jeff it is not a double standard its a different situation with different characters. For a variety of reasons, a large number of us felt Chuck and Sarah were ready for more together at the end of S2. So S3 felt like a betrayal of sorts as they went seperate ways. While Castle and Beckett have not yet been at that point. Even apart from issues like the quality of writing or objective relationship status; there was a feeling of emotional intimacy with Chuck and Sarah in S2 that Castle and Beckett are just beginning to reach in S4. So Chuck and Sarah’s break in S3 was painful in ways that can’t quite be duplicated yet on Castle.
        And that betrayal was painful on a couple levels. It wasn’t just the name reveal. 3.01 started with a sort of break-up that was excruciating to see. And Chuck and Sarah both got intimately involved with others. But most of all it felt a betrayal of the audience. We were bait and switched. We were in love with a certain type of show and had expectations about the characters and relationship; and then got something not only different, but utterly unappealing. After the emotion off the save the show camplaign and a brilliant ending to S2; we got something we didn’t recognize or like. Add to that, I pointedly did not like Chuck OR Sarah for extended periods of S3.
        Castle has pretty consistantly delivered the same sort of show since the beginning. It’s beginning to feel like the characters are growing too slowly, but there hasn’t been an “and now for something completely different” sort of moment yet. So while viewers may be getting bored or restless with the (lack of) progress on Castle, there is no real cause for outrage.

      • The entire Castle S3 finale was so full of problems, I cannot stomach rewatching it. (I’ve seen every episode of Chuck S3 at least 4 times, some more). Kate was unlikeable and treated Castle badly for no good reason. Castle acted like he had no idea how to talk to Kate. That fight was worse than anything Sarah and Chuck did to each other. They completely retcon’ed Montgomery in a way that does not make sense when rewatching the rest of S1->S3. Montgomery’s actions at the hanger made Casey’s actions in Business Trip look innocent and a little weak. The sniper scene had more plot holes than any two episodes of Chuck.

        I’m convinced if Pink Slip happened in a Castle episode, everyone would think it was the greatest episode ever.

      • atcDave says:

        Jeff I’m fine with you not liking the episode, it wasn’t a favorite of mine either. And there were certainly some moments in it I would call OOC. If I were as committed to Castle as I am to Chuck it might have been an even bigger issue to me.
        But when you throw out terms like “double standard” you’re suggesting we’re not judging fairly. And I object to that. This is a Chuck site so naturally you’ll see more passion among most of us for Chuck’s issues than Castle’s. But I see numerous reasons why the feeling and mood of the two fandoms would be very different. We’ve mentioned a lot of them here. That doesn’t mean there’s nothing to object to on Castle, but for a variety of reasons the S3 over-arc on Castle struck most of us as less egregiously bad than what we saw on Chuck.
        It’s good that you liked Chuck S3, you know other regulars on this site did. But for several of us it will remain one of the most offensively bad main story-lines we’ve ever seen on a show that we didn’t stop watching.

      • armysfc says:

        Jeff i think this line of yours sums it up best, and why i don’t think there is a double standard…3) Kate has rarely ever verbally indicated she is slightly interested in Castle. Sarah was the opposite, letting Chuck know all of the time.

        in both show the males showed openly they were interested, on castle as you point out only castle said so. that is a big difference. while people who ship shows may infer it’s equal, as you point out it was one sided. as for her flaunting it in front of castle, see the point above. she can’t flaunt it if she rarely gave an indication she wanted to be with him.

        this is the same as most discussions here, it’s a matter of opinion and how one views and interprets each episode. i too found the finale lacking as i find all the cliff hangers lacking. i read enough online to know if an actor is leaving a show or not, so the big did he/she die or not is a mute point. same as 4.23 last year, did anyone here think sarah would die?

      • Big Kev says:

        Looks like the original thread has been hijacked a bit, but this Castle/Chuck conversation is interesting.
        As someone who started watching Castle recently because it was recommended to me by so many Chuck viewers, I’ll say this. I haven’t seen anything like the degree of craziness from the Caskett shippers on Castle forums as I saw from Charah shippers on Chuck boards. Nor have I seen anything like the vitriol directed at Castle’s PTB for keeping them apart as was directed at Fedak et al.
        I think that’s because Chuck fans relate more personally to the characters than most shows, to the struggles and insecurities of a nerd, or to the lonely girl from a broken home – whereas the cop/sidekick thing is a lot more generic as a TV archetype, and isn’t directed specifically at a recognisable group of people. I also think the writing has been more consistent over the course of the wt/wt on Castle than it ever was on Chuck (without ever touching the heights, or originality that Chuck has). I take Jeff’s point about the absurdities of the Castle S3 finale, but over the journey I think their wt/wt has been much better written, and has followed a more typical pattern.
        One thing’s for sure. You can’t talk for long about either show before getting involved in a relationship discussion. I loved Chuck and Sarah when they were well written, and the same with Beckett and Castle, but I do wish things didn’t always come back to “the ship”. Chuck this year has done a fantastic job at integrating the Buy More back into the story this year, and utilising its secondary cast better than for years, and it’s a much better season for doing so. Castle too, has made a real effort this year to delve deeper into Ryan and Esposito’s backstories. I hope that continues.

      • Shepperd of Lost Sheep says:

        When does the WT/WT reach its breaking point? From what I’ve seen lately, it’s when “the puppet strings starts showing”.

        IMO, in Chuck, it started in Pink Slip, where in order the make the story work new characters were required. BTW in order to end the misery arc new characters were required as well, not necessarily better characters, just new ones. The only thing that Other Guy did was resolve the Chuck / Sarah WT/WT, it certainly didn’t resolve any story.

        Although the characters in Castle aren’t new (yet) the puppet strings in Caskett are starting to show at times also.

      • Shepperd of Lost Sheep says:

        @Big Kev

        What do you think would happen on Castle if the Rick character was shoved out of the police station for the bulk of the season (and then hooks up with some young thing), while Kate’s new partner (who is always on screen with her and has the personality of an amoeba) becomes the man she starts sharing her troubles and her bed with.

        I’m sure Castle fans would think it was a great story.

        On Castle, they’ve never separated the main protagonists like they did on Chuck. The C/S relationship was cheapened by its showrunner’s antics. To date Caskett has never
        been cheapened.

      • BigKev67 says:

        I don’t necessarily agree that either Chuck or Sarah were “shoved out” in S3 – but I can’t argue with your description of Shaw!
        You may be right. If Demming came back and spent half a season solving cases with Kate, I’m sure there would be huge complaints. Would it reach the level of the Chuckpocalypse post-Mask, and would some of it be as downright nasty? I’m not convinced – but again you may be right.
        FWIW I don’t agree that the puppet strings are showing this season – in fact I think this season is the first where they’ve explored actual, concrete and legitimate reasons for keeping Castle and Beckett apart – but I do think 4 seasons of wt/wt, regardless of the reasons, is enough, and patience is in danger of running out. They’ll soon face the same dilemma that Chuck had – if you take the dramatic hook of the wt/wt away, you’re going to need something to replace it with.

      • jason says:

        Sheppard, sometimes I have to double take your posts, they seem like something I might write. I am not sure that is a compliment or not, as I am a pretty hard core shipper. If you are not careful, some ‘delusional’ fans on the blogs might call you ‘crazy’.

        Had Chuck ended in Paris, Chuck would be a footnote of a show that could have been something for me that never delivered. But Chuck did not end, and since that time I have gotten 34 straight excellent Chuck and Sarah episodes give or take a moment or two, with promise for a few more. That is far more than I ever expected from the show when viewing the 7th thru 12th eps of season 3.

        To me, the big ? left is how much equity in Chuck and Sarah’s happiness will be robbed to tell the big conspiracy theory and / or to tell a big last story or two?

      • armysfc says:

        BigKev…one thing i see different is on castle is they don’t generate drama by using the wt/wt. castle could still do his job where as chuck couldn’t flash. (just an example, i know chuck could still do other parts of his spy job). for the most part the lack of the relationship and OLI’s had little to no affect on the partnership or how they worked together, on chuck it did. to me that’s a big thing. once the relationship becomes the focal point of the show, it’s time for me to go. i haven’t got that feeling on castle yet, and i hope i never do. bones is another show that had wt/wt, yet still showed growth and didn’t affect the partnership ot they work. they also had OLI’s, and as you point out about castle boards i never saw as much anger about it as i did on the chuck boards.

        i may be desensitized to wt/wt after watching 10 seasons of the worst possible wt/wt ever in tv history from JAG. if chuck had ended with the other guy, the end would have been almost the same as JAG’s ending, lousy.

        Jason…as for the crazy shipper, i do think there are fans like that out there. for them (on any show) the whole reason they watch is for the couple they ship. that’s all that matters to them. i consider myself a crazy plot/mythology/story guy. i need a case or arc to make sense and be resolved well. if they don’t do that to me it fails. that’s what i watch (if that’s the type of show it is) for. i mentioned JAG and for me the last 2 seasons sucked for the most part because the cases went down hill. the finale of castle was like that, i disliked the episode.

      • Shepperd of Lost Sheep says:

        I don’t think I was ever a true crazy shipper. Did I want Chuck and Sarah to get together _ sure. Who didn’t. The misery arc story didn’t work for me. It was poorly told, poorly executed, magically resolved and did more harm than good (on several levels). Mu biggest issue is that they never resolved that drama in the least.

        Listen, yes S4 was better. But its story is also, to a lesser degree, not told well, not executed well and “poof” resolved.

        So I see myself more as a story shipper than a relationship shipper. So on an overall 4.33 seasons of Chuck I see 3.01 as where the story stopped making sense. Episode wise I still enjoy the show. But overall story wise, it doesn’t float.

        S5 to date is OK. Like Jason I fear that more harm will be required before the curtain falls.

        I know a lot of people see Chuck as a comedy first and that’s cool. But if your going to hand wave the drama away, just don’t go there in the first place.

        I hope you get what I am (obviously poorly) trying say.

      • BigKev67 says:

        “A story shipper rather than a relationship shipper”
        “If you’re going to hand wave the drama away, don’t go there in the first place”
        Absolutely agree – on both counts!

      • Sorry, Ernie, for contributing to the hijacking of this thread.

        BigKev: “I think that’s because Chuck fans relate more personally to the characters than most shows, to the struggles and insecurities of a nerd, or to the lonely girl from a broken home – whereas the cop/sidekick thing is a lot more generic as a TV archetype, and isn’t directed specifically at a recognisable group of people.”

        I keep wanting to say something like that, and I like how you framed it. I think Castle fans are just as invested, though. Over in Castle fandom, a lot of people are saying Caskett is already the “perfect relationship” and a model for what they want in their own relationship. All Caskett has right now is a good partnership and a lot of UST, so their is some denial going on.

        Sheppard: “On Castle, they’ve never separated the main protagonists like they did on Chuck.” They’ve done that each of the three summers. The S2 and S3 premiers had Rick trying to get back into Kate’s good graces, like Chuck in Pink Slip (two of my favorite episodes). The difference was the Prague-like scene was in the previous season finale. For S3 premiers, Rick and Kate both had OLIs, like Hannah and Shaw. The S4 premiere was more like Pink slip with Kate ignoring Rick for three months in the middle of the episode after promising to call.

        In addition to what thinkling and others pointed out earlier, I think a great part of the problem in Pink Slip is Colonel made every think Charah was fait accompli. The head fake threw the audience into a tailspin and was past their tolerance of WT/WT.

    • BigKev67 says:

      Yeah, no doubt Castle’s wt/wt doesn’t affect how they work together much. I think it would actually make an interesting story for a few episodes if it did, but the time to do that was probably S3.
      I invest in characters and the way they connect to tell stories. Believable or relatable characters and compelling stories are what I need – and past that I don’t much care whether the leads get together or not. But you gotta make me believe whatever story you’re telling and that’s a lot more difficult if you’re 4 seasons into a wt/wt. If you’re not going to put them together, then split them up and let the story go someplace else.
      JAG’s wt/wt went on for 10 seasons?? Wow. Talk about flogging a dead horse 🙂

      • JAG was the worst for the WT/WT. The show was definitely more about the cases than the relationship. Mac only joined the cast in S2, but 9 seasons is not much better. Especially since they were together for about 5 minutes at the end. They even had a “if in five years…let’s have a baby” pact that expired at the end of the 9th season, meaning the 10th season was really drawn out.

      • armysfc says:

        jeff very true that they separated castle and beckett. the big difference to a fan is we never saw it. out of sight out of mind. chuck fans had to suffer through it and that made it much worse.

      • atcDave says:

        JAG is the poster child for wt/wt pushed past the breaking point. By the end, who cared? I know I didn’t anymore.

      • atcDave says:

        Army you’re exactly right about that; Caskett separations have mostly been off screen, so the emotional impact is lessened. Of course I don’t like off screen separations either, but in the end they are far less traumatic.

      • Shepperd of Lost Sheep says:

        Whereas the majority of the Chuck and Sarah resolution happened offscreen.

      • atcDave says:

        Yeah Shepherd part of the problem with the S3 resolution was we didn’t actually see Chuck and Sarah working through things and growing together; instead we got a sudden revolutionary shift. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m completely pleased with how Charah has been developed since then; but I’m no fan of that S3 black box.

      • thinkling says:

        Jag … ugh. I don’t think I made it through all 10 seasons, but I definitely quit believing in the relationship … wt/wt kind of ruined the show.

        Good way to put it Shep that you can tell the wt/wt is passed its shelf life when the strings start showing. With Chuck S3 I think it was more like scaffolding. I also very much agree that “If you’re going to hand wave the drama away, don’t go there in the first place.” TPTB painted themselves into a corner early in S3, and the corner kept getting smaller and smaller. Some of the drama they created was too heavy for a show like Chuck to ever resolve. And sadly, I think those very things were created almost solely as the scaffolding to prop up wt/wt when it was no longer believable.

        I’m not sure I understand “story shipper.” I want a good story, but I’m usually more interested in the relationships, but I don’t necessarily need all couples together immediately. With Bones, I was fine with their friendship/partnership. It was engaging, and she wasn’t ready for the kind of relationship he wanted. (And I absolutely hate the way they resolved it). Bones has lots of interesting relationships among the support cast, as well. With Castle, they haven’t really been ready (internally) to pursue a relationship, and their friendship has been fun to watch. The strings are beginning to show, but I still enjoy them.

      • atcDave says:

        I’d agree with most of that Thinkling. There are shows I like almost purely for the story with no ‘shipping required (SG-1 comes to mind; I don’t remember any real “Star Trek” ‘ships; and so far I totally don’t care in Covert Affairs). But if there are a couple of likable leads I will likely ‘ship to some extent. In fact, a good ‘ship absolutely adds to my emotional investment in the show. Chuck and Sarah are the most extraordinary couple I’ve ever enjoyed in any show. But I will root for Castle and Beckett; Michael and Fiona; and even Shawn and Juliet (just ’cause I love a good laugh).

      • ArmySFC says:

        Thinkling…story shipper, as i said i’m one. to me it means the story they are trying to tell is good, not one you have to reach for to make fit. that’s what i want in a show anyway. everything else is just window dressing. the mama b story last season didn’t really win a lot of fans over so despite the fact the relationships and other things were done well, the show suffered (for me) because the story they told was not.

        as for bones, i really don’t think they could have resolved it any other way. real life got in the way. she was pregnant and had her baby. they had to film the show while she was pregnant or reduce it to like 6 episodes. could you imagine the out cry if anyone but booth was the dad? in this case i think real life painted them into that corner and left them no choice.

  17. Ernie Davis says:

    Well on another, or rather the original topic, it looks like it is finally starting… Community gets a reprieve, from Hulu.

    *With thanks to Faith for the link

    • atcDave says:

      Although Ernie, if I’m reading that right it doesn’t look like any new or unaired content will be on Hulu. That next step will be a biggie.
      On a related note, did you see where the deal to keep a couple of old soap operas in production for Internet only recently fell apart. Perhaps someone figured out that soap opera viewers weren’t exactly computer savvy…

      • Sanctuary started on before going to the regular network. It had a Vancouver budget and producers willing to defer salary for higher production quality and a possible long term pay-off.

        Mainstream shows would have a harder time pulling that off. I could see new show pilots doing that to eliminate the risk for networks. Maybe fewer new shows would fail so quickly.

      • Ernie Davis says:

        Dave, yes, for now it looks as if it is just a deal for past and recently aired episodes, but I think the timing is telling and more details will fill in the picture. Sony is known for pushing for syndication, and Community is about a season and a half from that when NBC took it off their schedule. Hulu+ is likely a secondary and minor bit of revenue for Community, but it probably serves as a warning to NBC that Sony intends to shop Community around to other potential buyers should they fail to air the remaining episodes or give them a 4th season. Community is a show with a following much like Chuck’s. They are likely to follow it where-ever and are tech-savvy enough to do it, and if Hulu+ thinks they can sell some subscriptions based on that then we finally have the means to save the niche and cult shows we love. I’ve said before I felt it was only a matter of time, and while this is just preliminary, I think it bodes well (but sadly too late for Chuck to get a few more episodes).

        As for soaps, I agree, to have a chance of living on on the net is going to be a pretty small niche for a while.

      • thinkling says:

        After getting back to the US and looking at my Huly (not plus) queue, I saw Chuck Versus the Zoom on there, though expired, and no others. So, was Chuck originally put on Hulu and then yanked?

        They must have their reasons, but it doesn’t make much sense to me. Hulu and Netflix are where I find a lot of content, only later to keep up with them as they air. Even then, though, it’s almost always with the DVR. That’s how I found Bones, Castle, and Chuck. I’m pretty intentional about my viewing. I do not channel surf. I rarely, if ever, “find” a show on TV and start following it. I find it by recommendation or Hulu or Netflix, then follow (if it’s still airing) on the network after I “catch up..” Hulu works both ways.

      • ArmySFC says:

        Thinkling…they only had vs zoom and no others were made available. from what i can tell they could not work out a new contract.

  18. Faith says:

    In light of Greenblatt’s aggravating words at yesterday’s TCA NBC panel…this is an appropriate read and a thread revisiting.

    My favorite part: “I think it’s fundamentally difficult for us to believe that Nielsen numbers accurately represent the following of a show when our Twitter and Facebook feeds tell us so many people we know are watching it.”

    Though in this case, I don’t know if I want anything positive touching NBC/happening to NBC after its president’s words, not even misrepresented ratings. And I was on his (well less his, more the network’s) side too!

    • thinkling says:

      Grrr. I agree with Ernie’s first sentence. Broadcast TV is a dead business model. If, indeed, 1/3 of Chuck fans watched Chuck on their own schedule (and that ratio if probably higher in the final season), then Greenblatt is one of a large pride of ostriches in denial about their changing audience. That denial hurts everybody TPTB, actors, advertisers, and fans.

      As a side note, Chuck S5 has a larger viewership than the last 2 seasons of Smallville. The two shows appeal to a similar audience and occupy the same time slot. Sure the ratings aren’t great, but if they represent only 1/2 to 2/3 of viewers, then it’s not as bad as it looks.

      As for Nielsen, my guess is that they really do have a representative cross-section demographically, of a particular type of viewer … people living in the US, who tend to watch TV live. Because of the (dead) business model, that’s the only type of viewer the advertisers are interested in. But that type of viewer is a dying breed, so naturally the ratings will continue in a downward trend going forward.

      My message to Greenblatt: “Nielsen’s time has come. Nielsen is dead, let’s alert the masses.” 😀

      Oh well. I am just SO grateful we’re getting a S5, even if they burned episodes over Christmas.

      • atcDave says:

        They make us the hardest working audience in television and then complain we aren’t supporting our show….

        The majority of Chuck fans I know are watching on their own schedules, mostly Sunday or Monday nights. One long time viewer I know was an Internet only viewer, when we were talking a couple weeks ago he didn’t even know the show’s fifth season had started.

        Much as I hate to admit its over; there is the one benefit, I don’t care what anyone from the network thinks about anything anymore.

      • thinkling says:

        Neither do I (care what anyone from the network thinks about anything anymore.) And I probably never will again. I can’t imagine ever investing in any show the way I have Chuck. That said, it makes me sad for other good shows that appeal to nerd-types and others who DVR everything or catch stuff online. Our type is increasing and the live channel surfers are declining. WAKEY, WAKEY!

      • joe says:

        I’ll add my voice to this too. Network TV (at least, the stuff I grew up with) is dying as surely as the old time radio shows did. It’ll have to change in the same fashion, too. Or, at least in some fashion.

        And I too can’t imagine myself being so invested again in a show. I ran home to see Babylon 5, I made sure I saw all The Wonder Years episodes, I never missed Mary Tyler Moore and Annette Funecello (The Mousketeers) was my first crush. I doubt it’s going to happen again.

      • joe says:

        Oh, forget to mention that the ratings continue to confound me. I think they’re (where the “they” in “they’re” are the advertisers) fundamentally mistaken when they concentrate on that mythical “desired” demographic. Besides it being an insult to the rest of us, that demo is constructed and intended to reflect those viewers who are most easily separated from their money. Sounds to me like everybody’s insulted. I also believe it’s self-limiting. If someone wants to sell to me, they can let me know their product exists too. My demo doesn’t need to be sold McDonald’s hamburgers. We’re past that, and I don’t want to even see those commercials anymore. I merely tolerate them.

        With shows available on-line (sometimes by crook, rather than by hook), I won’t need to tolerate them much longer.

      • Faith says:

        I agree with you Thinkling but point of emphasis, Smallville was broadcasted by the CW network which has a far less reach than NBC and all its towers. If I’m not mistaken nearly half the nation can’t get CW locally.

    • Ernie Davis says:

      I was definitely a lot happier with the new NBC PTB. I thought they showed some class giving Chuck a chance to wrap up properly after two seasons of never knowing how many episodes they’d have to do or if they could count on another season. I’m still glad they did, though I would have preferred 22 episodes. But those comments were uncalled for. He had to know that the move to Friday would be a live ratings killer for a show with a dwindling viewership as each season seemed to be sufficient wrap up for some of the casual viewers. So now he blames the rabid fanbase for not showing up? NBC has done everything they could to hamstring, cripple, and practically kill this show since the end of season 2, and just when it looked like the new management had some class, they go and blow what goodwill they’d earned from a very demographically attractive fanbase. If network TV isn’t dead yet they’re doing their best to kill it.

      • thinkling says:

        You’re right Ernie. Totall uncalled for.

      • ArmySFC says:

        Ernie, i agree with all you said except one point. at the end of season 2 going into season three they pushed the show hard. they promoted it like crazy. it was during season 3 they made the big mistake of replacing it after the super bowl. that was the original plan at the start of the season right? chuck was to air following the SB? but due to the ratings decline i suppose they opted out at the last minute. after that when ratings fell hard that’s when they began the abandonment of the show.

        he also has a point about the viewers not following it. s4 ended with about a 1.3-1.4 average. .3-.4 never showed up. had they showed up my bet is we would have gotten 11 more. OT but related i think is news i read about fringe. TPTB set a ratings goal for this season. fox set a goal (not released BTW) for renewal. if they maintained that number it’s good to go if not it’s done. so far they are either at or above that number. maybe NBC did the same for chuck? maybe the number was 1.2-1.1.

        as for the model dying i think it is as well, just not as fast as people think.

      • joe says:

        Ausiello noted today that the ratings were up for last night’s episode (not that it means anything).

        He also promises some spoilers are coming, via Yvonne, later. I’ll try to keep everyone posted, but please let us know in the spoiler page if you see them before I do!

      • Ernie Davis says:

        Army, at the end of season 2 NBC delayed renewal of Chuck and slashed the fee they were willing to pay in half, then scheduled it for a mid-season replacement. On any other channel than an NBC in free-fall in the ratings that was effective cancellation.

      • ArmySFC says:

        Ernie thanks!. i read a lot of the other stuff happened as well.

      • atcDave says:

        Yeah the original plan had Chuck S3 starting in March of 2010, 10 months after the S2 finale. Obviously plenty of time for more casual viewers to forget all about it. Without even getting into its relative merits, I believe the radical change in tone for S3 complicated matters too. It wasn’t the show viewers remembered and the advertising seemed a little out of step with the new feel; and ratings fell quickly. At that point NBC stopped promoting and furthered the cycle. From mid-S3 on Chuck has done what its done with virtually no network support and a lousy production budget.
        One good thing about airing on a fading network, it made making the cut easier to get us S4 and S5. Although I’ll always suspect if we’d been on CW or USA and had better network support we wouuld be looking at a full S5 and anticipating S6 instead of already being at the end.

      • thinkling says:

        I think you’re right about that Dave. Do you know if typically the cable networks (USA, for example) have larger audiences for their serialized shows than broadcast networks?

      • atcDave says:

        I think USA’s best programs draw ratings similar to weaker network shows. I remember two seasons ago the Burn Notice season finale was the top rated hour-long scripted show ever for basic cable (whew… think there’s enough qualifiers on that?!) and it drew around 6 million. I believe basic cable ratings have held pretty steady since then with network ratings dropping, so it seems likely in the very near future that there will be little difference between them. In fact, I think cable/satellite/internet penetration is so deep in American homes now it may not be long until even major sporting events (football play-offs and Super Bowl, college bowl games, Olympics) move over to cable.

      • dkd says:

        Burn Notice’s Season Finale this year drew a 1.1 A18-49 rating and about 2.9 million viewers. About the same as Chuck

      • dkd says:

        A couple of truths:

        1. Chuck got more promos for the season premiere this year than last year.
        2. The drop in ratings for Chuck was greater than the difference in Live TV viewing between Friday and Monday
        3. DVR time-shifting is also lower than last year. So, it didn’t just lose live viewers, but Timeshifters too.
        4. Young viewers have dropped out at a greater rate than older viewers. The median age of people watching Chuck now is in the 50’s when it used to be in the 40’s.

        Greenblatt lacked a lot of tact in his statement, but the ratings DID go down a lot more than they should have. Yes, they should have been lower, but not this low.

      • atcDave says:

        Not sure where they were showing those promos, as an avid football watcher I saw only a few on Sunday Night Football. In S1 and S2 they were a weekly constant, in fact it was via those Sunday Night Football spots where I first learned about the show. If the promos were bunched up on Today or Regis its hardly surprising the audience would skew older.

        Last I saw the +7 numbers were nearly double the same day views. If that has held up, while its still a loss in total viewership, it puts Chuck into more respectable 1.8 to 2.0 territory.
        And I know the network doesn’t give a rip about +7 numbers, but that’s exactly what’s wrong with the current rating system. At some point, someone will figure out that a time shifting audience is likely a more engaged audience. They’re the folks who care about the program and what they’re watching. So while it may make no difference to the advertisers what “quality” of viewing experience there is; it should make a huge difference to anyone trying to actually sell the PROGRAM as a disc, download, or pay-per-view.

      • Faith says:

        The ratings overall for Fridays are abysmal. The winner for the night received a 1.8 so to me blaming the fans is not only classless but shortsighted. Let’s call a spade a spade, he was upset that he was being grilled for burning off Chuck episodes so he reacted as such. He may have earned our gratitude by letting Chuck end on its own note, but he made no friends for the future of the network and their upcoming shows.

        To add to that, overall with the sale from GE, the budget for all shows and promotions have been upgraded. Chuck got a bump in promotions because of that, but certainly not nearly enough for a schedule change and concluding series.

      • atcDave says:

        Faith you’re completely right that the attitude is the real problem. Under the current rating system it’s obvious Chuck has failed this season. But with a few poorly chosen words he just ticked off a lot of us. And just because our show is going away doesn’t mean we’re dropping off the face of Earth. Some better chosen words and we might have been an appreciative group ready to support the networks other projects. Now I’m mostly annoyed and not inclined to give NBC much benefit of the doubt.

      • ArmySFC says:

        Dave, chucks time shifted numbers for the first week were a 59% for a 1.59 well below the shifted 1.94 they got for the season 4 finale. chucks second weeks time shifted numbers were just a 39% lift down 20% from the first week. the episode that aired on 7 nov again got a 39% lift to a 1.25. chuck hasn’t cracked the top 10 in +7 viewers since the first episode and has ranked in the mid 20 shows for shifted viewing. complete numbers can be found at greekfurious. i’m not saying the numbers you have a wrong just that there are some different ones out there.

        i do agree there is money to be made on the sale of online viewing. i also don’t think the people who run all the networks are that stupid. if enough money was to be made from the online viewing someone would take a shot at it don’t you think? scary thing is more networks are putting their shows on line after a week to 30 day wait. USA is one of them for several of their shows.

      • joe says:

        dkd – I need to apologize to you.

        One of your comments got caught in the spam filter, either earlier today or late yesterday. That happens occasionally, usually because a given number of links looks like spam to the filter (computers are “dumb as posts”). I marked it as “not spam”, but for some reason, it did not show up as I expected. I fear it’s really lost, which is a first, for me.

        I’m very sorry that happened.

      • MyNameIsJeffNImLost says:

        Does time-shifted include just DVR or both DVR and On Demand? If if includes both, that could account for a lot of the difference between last year and this year.

        I’ve been paranoid about getting the records right this year, and I still messed up Santa Suit. Fortunately, I caught it live.

      • armysfc says:

        Jeff i hope this helps…

        Most networks use Nielsen’s Live Plus service to track ratings. Live Plus looks at who watched shows on their DVRs within different time frames. Generally, it tracks three major categories: Live-Plus-Same-Day, Live-Plus-Three and Live-Plus-Seven. Each one looks at a broader timeframe, so Live-Plus-Same-Day looks not only at who was watching when the show aired, but also who watched the show that day and the next. Live-Plus-Three and Live-Plus-Seven track who watched within three and seven days of the original airing, respectively.

      • MyNameIsJeffNImLost says:

        Thanks, Army. So it sounds like the lack of On Demand, iTunes, and Amazon does not directly account for the difference between S4 and S5 in the Live+# results. It could have a smaller influence because when people miss an episode or two and can’t get caught up, they decide not to bother. (I had to make a recording of 5.04->5.06 for my sister and brother-in-law. Otherwise they would have waited until they purchased S5 on DVD.) Most of the difference is probably other factors (e.g. not liking Morgansect, happy that Charah are married and don’t want to watch more–they like WT/WT, other entertainment competition, even worse promotion from NBC, people don’t watch anything else on NBC, late premiere date buried on a Friday made people think it was cancelled, people waiting for the DVDs which will be released sooner, all of the other ideas mentioned here, etc.)

      • armysfc says:

        Jeff here’s something fans seem to fail to figure in when talking about the +7 numbers. i have seen the same comments on many TV show blogs. if they counted our plus 7 numbers we would be at (X.X). sounds good for that show. if they did count the +7 numbers they would count them for all shows which in the end would result in the raising of the bar for what is good ratings for that night. say 2.0 was the low mark for renewal on a certain night. 2.0 keeps you on 1.9 end of show. they figure the average +7 comes to 25% making the good number 2.25 i stead of 2.0. that’s just a guess BTW.

        i think even if they added all the ways to view a show together they would just keep adjusting the numbers until a level field was established. then use that new level as the standard. even if a networks do go to a straight pay per view type system, i’m sure they would come up with a system that would show where their show ranks vs others in that time slot or in the grand scheme of things. the one constant i think in all of this is the most of networks whether cable, premium or broadcast want you to watch more than one show they have. they will get someone to figure out the numbers and adjust accordingly. shows would still get canceled and new ones come along. it could mean they just plan on a certain number of year run like Disney who limits most shows to 4 years no matter how good or popular.

        will it be good or bad who knows time will tell.

      • dkd says:

        You can count Live + 1, Live +3 days, Live + 7 Days. But, in the end, the network get paid by the advertised based on a rating called “C3”. C3 is short for Commercial ratings within 3 days. This is what the networks and advertisers call the “currency” rating because it determines the price they pay. A C3 rating isn’t the rating for the show, but for the commercials within the show, as long as they are watched within 3 days. They chose three days because many advertisers have time-sensitive messages and want you to respond quickly–e.g. a sale at a store or a movie opening.

        As it turns out, the C3 rating is within 10% of the Live + SD rating. So, if you know that, you are pretty close to knowing what the C3 rating is. Live + 7 would only be relevant to advertisers who purchase product placement within the show, like Subway does.

        Chuck got more promotion in season 5 vs. season 4 BECAUSE it had a later premiere. Promo slots are limited and Chuck got lost in the shuffle of new series in Season 4–particularly the deluge of promos for The Event. But, in Season 5, everything else had premiered already. So, Chuck and Grimm got many more promos than they would have if they premiered earlier. Chuck got a lot more than the year prior.

        They even paired Chuck and Grimm in the promos, but the big disappointment was how great Grimm’s premiere ratings were vs. how poor Chuck’s were. Had both shows premiered poorly, you could blame Friday night, but Grimm did great.

      • dkd says:

        One more methodology note about the ratings:

        Online viewing is counted under only one circumstance: the ads have to be exactly the same as they are in the broadcast version. This goes back to my “currency” point above. The purpose of the ratings is to provide a price for the advertising.

        NBC and Hulu do not run the same ads in the online version as they do on the broadcast version. Thus, they have to be counted separately. The advertisers who are buying spots on have a different service for telling them how many people saw their ads.

        At this time, only the Turner networks run the same ads online as they do on-air. So, those are the only shows whose ratings include online viewing.

  19. Well – I think we’re beating the dead horse as far as ratings – audience – sponsors/ads… and whatnot. I don’t think the ratings system works the same way for television that doesn’t need to be watched live. Many folks I know – prefer to get the DVD’s and watch a whole season uninterrupted. [ Video killed the radio star – now becomes – DVD killed the TV show?]
    NBC just announced that all the ad space for the Super Bowl has been booked: at a tune of nearly $ 3.5 million for a 30 sec. spot….. and apparently most of those commercials will be longer than just 30 seconds….
    So I guess there is still a live audience in TV – but I don’t think its the weekly drama and comedies.

    • atcDave says:

      Yeah you hit the nail on the head gringo. I think sports, news and realityish things will continue to do well on broadcast TV. But more thoughtful scripted programming will likely migrate to other venues.

      • thinkling says:

        So that makes me wonder: if scripted programming migrates to cable networks, don’t advertisers still have the same problem? Seems they are still up the Nielsen creek without a viewer.

      • atcDave says:

        The basic cable channels get about half their revenue from cable subscription fees. So there’s more of a buffer from the ratings monster. Of course premium cable, pay-per-view, direct to video, and presumably programs done for various streaming outlets are even more distanced from ratings. I think we’re not far from a situation where all of the “free” content will be poor quality lowest common denominator sort of stuff. While more discerning consumers will have to pay for their higher quality programming. Of course right now the frustrating problem is that so much “premium” content is actually explicit and trashy in a different sort of way from network TV. I’m not sure what’s going to happen to intelligent viewers who don’t want to pollute their brains with smut. I imagine some sort of “family” entertainment will thrive, which I enjoy. But finding adult entertainment that isn’t “adult entertainment” concerns me.

      • ArmySFC says:

        Thinkling, i don’t think so. cable shows tend to only have 13 episodes per season which is a reduced cost both for the actors and production. also cable shows draw way less viewers if you look at the numbers. it could have an effect if the cable network is backed by a major network that is having trouble.

      • ArmySFC says:

        Dave i agree with you on the porn not porn risk of moving to a premium channel. just using chuck as an example. what could they have done to the show? more sex scenes between the couples, more graphic torture scenes well you get the idea. unfortunately violence, sex and nudity sell very well. that’s the point isn’t it? would the soprano’s been the same on network TV, not likely. i fear a move to a more pay per view or cable based shows would lead to more of this, why? because they don’t have to maintain the standards networks do.

  20. Ernie Davis says:

    One final thought on the future of media. From The Economist.

  21. dkd says:

    If you are interested in how Chuck’s DVR ratings compare to last season, try this:

  22. MyNameIsJeffNImLost says:

    General complaining about Nielson and genre shows (like Chuck) not getting break:

    • atcDave says:

      That was actually pretty shocking that “best drama” was done off air! To this day no one seems to quite know what to do with the nerd segment. And I’m convinced we don’t poll well with Nielsen. It’s not that our viewing habits defy measurement; but our recruitability to be Nielsen viewers does! As I understand it they find viewers through direct marketing, which a tech savvy nerd audience is probably pretty resistant to; I mean seriously, if my phone rings and I don’t recognize who’s on the caller ID I don’t touch it!

      • MyNameIsJeffNImLost says:

        That’s the problem with any poll. It’s not registered voters or likely voters. It’s likely/registered voters who are willing to answer your questions. It’s worse for Nielsen. It’s viewers who are willing to keep a diary or add a device into their entertainment setup. What nerd wants to do that?

      • dkd says:

        I would think that any nerd who was approached by Nielsen to be metered would jump at the chance. Every fan I’ve encountered is frustrated that they don’t get the chance.

        I’ve never been a meter household, but I’ve kept a TV diary twice in my live and a radio diary once. But, that was before the major markets got rid of the diaries for TV. I loved doing it. I even lied by saying my favorite show had more viewers in the house than it really did.

      • dkd says:

        They do not find their respondents by direct marketing. Their people meter panel uses geographic sampling. Every residence in the U.S. has an equal chance of being selected. Once selected, they make multiple attempts to sign you up and not just by phone. Unless you are homeless or a person who never is home, you have just as much chance as anyone to be selected.

      • MyNameIsJeffNImLost says:

        I guess it depends on the nerd. I wouldn’t want someone messing with my entertainment center setup, and viewing diaries are time consuming and incompatible with channel surfing. If they want my viewing information, they should talk to Comcast (although the Comcast box is bad enough).

        People with privacy concerns are less likely to participate. Years ago, my parents were called several times by Nielsen years and were told to go away and stop bugging them. I’m on the Do Not Call registry. I’ve read that it should not apply to Nielsen, because they are not selling anything, however I’m not sure I buy that interpretation. They are not selling to me, but they are “Service Provider” trying to sell my information to other Sellers that must obey the registry. They are for profit, are not conducting political surveys, and I do not have an existing business relationship with them, so in my book, they are not an exempt organization and shouldn’t be calling me.

      • atcDave says:

        DKD I’ve been a diary keeper too. 27 years ago. I was contacted by phone. Now if I were contacted again and the caller ID came up AC Nielsen you can bet I would answer; but if it came up with any one of the dozen of “anonymous” or switchboard tags we usually see I wouldn’t touch it. But I know at least a half dozen fellow nerds who would NEVER consent to someone recording their viewing practices. It’s just not the sort of thing we normally do. Also remember many nerds do not really watch much tv; they may be fanatics for two or three shows at any given time, but have little or no interest in anything else. So if Nielsen comes calling, they don’t care.

        One of my co-workers also had a Nielsen box for two years (standard term I believe). She told me after the fact (well about a month before her term expired), but she told me specifically because I had got her into Chuck, and she wanted to let me know that I made a difference. But she was contacted via a rep coming to her door. I don’t answer the door to unkown salesmen. Maybe if he called first… and his caller ID said Nielsen…

        I don’t believe its an easy thing to recruit a nerd.

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