How NOT To Get People to Watch Your Show

Insulting your viewers probably isn't the best way to get them to watch your show. But that didn't stop HEROES showrunner Tim Kring from laying the blame for the ratings decline of his show on serialized storylines and the limited intelligence of his audience. 

The engine that drove [serialized TV] was you had to be in front of the TV [when it aired]. Now you can watch it when you want, where you want, how you want to watch it, and almost all of those ways are superior to watching it on air. So [watching it] on air is related to the saps and the dipshits who can't figure out how to watch it in a superior way." 

A superior way? Why is it "superior" to watch the show on your iPod or your computer instead of on TV? Isn't it a TV show? How does the medium you choose to watch HEROES with make the stories and characters any more or less compelling?

I'm sure that heavy serialization is part of the problem with HEROES. But the bigger problem is that the show is a confusing, uninvolving mess that isn't compelling or entertaining enough to get the viewer to make the necessary commitment. At least not this viewer, one of the "saps and dipshits."

I watched all of season the "superior way" on my iPod on plane flights while traveling back-and-forth to Europe. And I really liked it. I saw the first four or five episodes of season two on TV. And gave up on the show.  I guess if I'd watched the season two episodes on my iPod I would have liked them. (Or is he saying the opposite, that TV is the "superior way" and other platforms are for saps and dispshits? He's not too clear. Either way, it's the stories and characters that matter, not whether you watch it on TV, a computer, or a DVR).

Now Kring is planning to make his stories less serialized…or not serialized at all. That could work, but I'm not sure that he's attacking the real problem, or as Time Magazine TV critic James Poniewozik puts it:

Yes, you can blame technology for siphoning all the smart viewers away from your series. You could try revamping your show so that it becomes the complete opposite of what it was conceived as. Or you could try, you know, not sucking. A story arc or two that doesn't inspire ridicule could go a long way with the saps and dips***s, is all I'm saying. […]Whatever problems Heroes has, the fault lies not in its DVRs but in itself.

UPDATE 11-25-08
: Poniewozik reports that Kring has apologized for his comments in an open letter to fans, which reads in part:

I was making the point that these platforms now offer a superior way to watch the show (without commercials, with extra content, commentary, at the audience's convenience, etc.) … It was a boneheaded attempt at being cute and making a point. Instead, it turned out to be just plain insulting and stupid. I know now how it sounded, but I truly never meant to suggest anything bad about our audience. 

2 thoughts on “How NOT To Get People to Watch Your Show”

  1. I guess I’m one of the saps and dipshits as well. I enjoyed season one watching it the old fashioned way: TV. I, too, grew bored early in season two and stopped watching. Haven’t been back.

  2. I’m still watching the show (via my DVR, so I’m one of the cool kids, I guess), but only because I hate leaving a story without knowing how it ends. If it were to get canceled, I wouldn’t be that upset.


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