How do you measure true TV engagement?
I'm not talking about wistfully sending off an email, a tweet, or a Facebook update about what the girls should be doing on "Gossip Girl," "New Girl" or "2 Broke Girls."
I'm talking about old-school pulling-out-the-wallet engagement.
One consistently hears about "TV blackouts" resulting from those nasty disputes between cable operators and program distributors. Seems like one long testy battle between Time Warner Cable and Madison Square Garden Inc., owner of the New York Knicks, has forced hard-core NBA basketball fans to actually buy tickets to go see games.
For its own part, MSG -- with the help of DirecTV -- has been offering viewing parties in New York City bars for fervent fans who can't perhaps find a friend who has Cablevision Systems, DirecTV or Dish TV as a provider.
To be sure, measurement of significant numbers of these disgruntled but motivated fans is hard to come by.
There are, of course, other types of sports blackouts, such as the NFL’s -- if a home team's game isn't a sellout, its local TV outlet is blacked out, forcing consumers to buy tickets to the game to watch their team live on site. That's a different kind of story, with mostly one-off efforts.
But both examples show how strong, brand-conscious fans can put aside any differences and grumblings they might have with the powers that be -- TV or sports content owners, and TV program distributors --- to take strong action, to spend additional entertainment money that might not be in their budgets.
Plenty of viewers gripe or have strong opinions about weak storylines on shows, cancelled older series or new programs that should get a chance.
But talk is cheap. Watch consumers' entertainment dollar options at work when stuff doesn't go their way. That's a stronger entertainment engagement metric.