Industry

Looking for Jericho and finding Mayberry

Author
Marc Davison
No.
177
Please excuse the mess. This page is currently under construction.

The explosion assaults your otherwise quiet, habit-filled day. In the distance, a massive mushroom cloud heaves toward the heavens. Seconds later, you buckle from the shockwave. An electromagnetic jolt shocks you back to the Stone Age.   

When you regain consciousness you realize the dust shower now settling on your town was once a nearby metropolitan city. Days pass. Amid the chaos, you learn that these attacks were released on a several dozen major metropolitan cities by the very hands of the newly formed, self appointed government now taking over the country.   

Sit back, grab your bag of peanuts and enjoy the show.

Jericho

On September 20, 2006, CBS debuted Jericho. Twenty-two episodes later, on May 9, the final episode played to what many at CBS believed was a small, insignificant audience.

Networks rarely un-cancel a show. But the program’s fan base, a collection of millions of Web-based viewers, launched a resurrection campaign unlike anything the networks have ever seen. In an unprecedented move, CBS executives agreed to gather cast and crew and grant the program seven new episodes.

In an open letter posted on the CBS blog, CBS Entertainment President Nina Tassler wrote, “We hope you will rally around the new episodes of Jericho with the same passion and volume you displayed this summer to bring the show back. There is the potential for more Jericho, but we will need your help to recruit new viewers” — in other words, find people who are willing to sit in their living room at 10 p.m. on Tuesday to watch the show.   

As the walls tumble

Founded in 1923, Nielson’s last update and modification to its ratings system took place in the 1940s — when TV was black and white, when characters were named Fred and Ethel, when cars ran on leaded gas that cost 10 cents a gallon.

The ratings system’s inability to account for change, to account for how today’s audience wants their entertainment, to yield to the new metrics has led to the show’s second cancellation.

TiVo, iTunes, XBox Live, Netflix, BitTorrent and the half dozen other venues used by viewers who are too busy, too social, too wrapped up in other things to plant themselves in front of the TV the way their parents once did scream for attention. iTunes reports Jericho as one of its most popular show downloads ever.  And finally, check this.  People are watching. 

Speaking of online participation, Jericho-related forums, Facebook groups and blogs measure into the hundreds with tens of thousands of postings.

All shell and no nuts

This is not about the fate of a small Kansas town set in TV fantasyland. Neither is this a statement for how success must now be served up like fast food – piping hot and instantly.

This is about CBS’s failure to recognize where and how 6-10 million consumers think and want content. This is about a brand that has, even if by accident, touched millions of consumers and destroyed its chance to spearhead a major paradigm shift in television viewing. They stood at the crossroads. Turned their back.

And proved they’re all shell and no nuts.

At worst, Jericho could have been viewed as a lost leader. Keeping 6-9 million viewers inside the CBS store seems like a smart investment to me. 

Instead, they chose to cancel their future, remain in the past and pretend the world hasn’t changed. 

Looking for Jericho and finding Mayberry

Outside your office is a Jericho audience. They’re younger and different than you. CBS failed to convert them to their way of participation so my guess is real estate will as well if it continues to do things as it’s always has.

The world has changed — there is a new viewer in town. They’re unlike their parents. They’re not typical Nielsen families. They’re online. They’re looking real estate Jericho but instead, finding Mayberry in the form of old Websites produced by Fred for their Ethel customers. 

CBS had something and they let it go. It wasn’t the show. It was diehard viewers that could have become brand loyalists. Now they’re rangers, fighting against the brand.

Real estate has something that it lets go every day. It’s the chance to create brand loyalists.

The lesson here is the blind eye and deaf ear to a burgeoning demographic. It’s brokerages not pressing because due to the fear they have rocking the agent boat. It the concern of doing something new because it’s never been done before.

I know that people are as passionate about real estate as they are about television shows. They want to do much more than just search for a home. They are looking to do it in ways that don’t always confine them to their desktop computers or to older traditional means. 

Now is the time for real estate to go nuts.
To attack old models.
Attack old ideas.

If not now” when?

– Davison