Friday, August 26, 2005

Rome' bears a heavy burden

I don't know if Rome is going to be good enough to deserve all the hype, and it will have a hard time living up to Six Feet Under, Carnivale, The Sopranos and Deadwood, which are all excellent HBO shows, but I am looking forward to it anyway. However, the thing in this article that stuck out to me was this section:

With 27.7 million paid subscribers, HBO is highly profitable and still commands the largest audience of pay-cable channels. But its growth has slowed in the last two years as programs such as the now-canceled "Carnivale" and the Lisa Kudrow comedy "The Comeback" struggled to draw viewers.

The most-talked-about recent addition to the HBO lineup, "Entourage," has gotten critical acclaim but modest ratings. The finale of "Six Feet Under" last Sunday commanded almost 4 million viewers, far short of the 13.4 million who watched "The Sopranos" at its peak in 2002. The hit mobster drama, which averaged 12.9 million viewers last season, is now expected to end its run in 2007.

I don't know how many people watched the Six Feet Under finale, but I do know a lot of people were talking about it the next day. I also know that you shouldn't be comparing numbers for a 2005 episode to something in 2002. Now, there are ever increasing ways to watch the shows, especially on a channel like HBO. First, there are about six or seven HBO channels, at least four or five of which will be showing encores of every new show many times throughout the week, so the number of people that watched the finale on Sunday might fall far short of the number who actually watch it at some point. Also, people have DVRs now, I'm not sure how ratings get measured with recorded shows, but people will record it while watching something else and watch it later. Also, with OnDemand, a lot of shows can be watched at the convenience of the viewer anyway. So I don't see how they could have any accurate number for how many people watched the Six Feet Under finale at all, and especially not at this point, when it hasn't even been a week since it was on, and it probably hasn't even shown up on OnDemand yet. Also, for individual shows, I can see why HBO would be concerned with ratings, but for the overall success of the network, the only thing they should be worried about is subscribers. I don't know if that number is down or not, but that should be the bottom line. It doesn't matter if anyone watches any of their shows, if they are all still paying for the channel.

Anyway, I hope HBO continues to deliver the kind of great programming we've seen from them in the last few years, but I don't think you can measure the network's or the show's success based on traditional ratings, because I don't think you can get an accurate representation that way. Also, that's my theory for why Carnivale got canceled, becuase I know a lot of people liked that show. So they need to come up with a better way to measure these things before something else I like gets canceled. Also, I am starting to wonder why they would cancel Carnivale, when as far as I can tell, they don't have anything as good or better to replace it with. Hopefully, they are working on something, because when the Sopranos ends, they will only have one proven drama left (Deadwood), although I imagine they hope that by that time Rome will be a success.

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Francesca said...

I'm really excited about 'Rome.' I watched the 'making of' special they had and it looks very good and well-researched.

One thing I don't know--is 'Rome' a miniseries or a regular series like 'Six Feet Under'?

John Howard said...

I thought it was a regular series, but in looking it up on the internets a while back, some things made it sound like a miniseries. Maybe it just depends on how well it does or something. I'm not sure.

sumo said...

Maybe the guy that wrote Carnivale or the Producer (you know who I mean) decided they just didn't want to do it anymore. I've tried to come up with a reason that makes sense and I can't. It was very popular I thought. It came as a blow to many people that it was cancelled. I even wondered if they hadn't received some pressure from the religious right because it dealt with the know how "they" can be about demonic stuff. Not to mention how bad it made the clergy look. Who knows? There definitely is a void. I personally don't care for Entourage...but my husband likes it. Rome does look interesting.

John Howard said...

Carnivale was definitely canceled, it wasn't because anybody didn't want to do it anymore.