The Walls of CBS Come Tumbling Down
With all credit and kudos to the dedicated fans whose protests caused CBS today to reverse its decision to give the heave-ho to the series “Jericho,” we hope we added one tiny cashew last week to the pile of nuts that got a major media company to give in.
“You got our attention; your emails and collective voice have been heard,” wrote CBS Entertainment President Nina Tassler in a letter to fans that announced seven new episodes of the series about post-apocalyptic life in a Kansas town have been ordered for next season. The network had been inundated with calls and emails, we well as mounds of nuts after a line in the show, which was interestingly one of the most streamed online for the network.
During Walt’s interview with CBS CEO Les Moonves onstage at D5 last week, well-known photographer Rick Smolan asked about the series in the audience Q&A part, noting the digital nature of the protest. “It’s been impressive to hear how important the Internet has become to CBS…[but] if the Internet is as important to you as you say it is, would you consider responding to the audience? I understand it sets a precedent.”
Moonves joked that the fans had found a way around CBS email filters. “There has been an unbelievable number of emails to us and, unfortunately, because the audience of that show is very Internet savvy, they’ve learned to get around the blocking,” he said.
Walt followed up, asking about other options for the show. “Why not keep producing it and distribute it on the Internet, where maybe you don’t need that kind of huge amount of viewership?” he asked.
Moonves noted it was still a pricey proposition. “It’s well and good to say that, but when you spend the kind of money it would cost to do that, you would be losing a considerable amount of money,” he said.
Walt then asked the question that will become increasingly important as creative people find new and more economic ways to make and distribute content about the chances for such formats as Webisodes.
“It’s one of the things that is being talked about now because of the attention that it’s had,” answered Moonves.
One can hope, but for now, congratulations to the digitally-savvy emailing fans of “Jericho.”