How To Tell The Financial Health Of Digital, TV Shows

How do you explain the cancellation of an original digital TV show?

Don’t think you can use time-honored reasons. You need to be more clearly specific. We’re all for that.

In the traditional TV world, there is always talk about poor TV ratings -- or about key 18-49 viewers data -- when it comes to poor-performing shows. If not that, then perhaps a show’s poor time period is to blame.

In the digital world, CNN just stopped its 4-month-old “The Update,” produced on social-media platform Snapchat.  

One revealing explanation about why the program ended was a more specific financial reason; it couldn’t sell enough advertising. Specifically, that the program’s ad revenue-sharing deal with the site wasn’t going anywhere, according to reports.

We understand this because it is always about dollars and cents. And, of course, sense. We have advocated for some time at TV Watch that a TV show's effort should be reflected by an easier performance measure.



Say a big TV network show on a specific night pulled in $7 million in national TV advertising, versus another grabbing $5 million, and three others doing just $1 million a piece. Now we have a better -- though not perfect -- picture.

To be sure, stuff can be complicated -- especially when you don’t include factors such as carriage, affiliate or retransmission fees, local TV advertising revenue or even the value of show as a promotional tool for other TV shows or products.

National TV advertisers, of course, want to know much more these days. For example, how did their media/advertising money perform in selling products/service give a specific episode?

Take a cue from the theatrical movie business.

We know what “Star Wars: The Last Jedi” did in terms of U.S. box-office business over the last two weekends -- and pretty much what the production's budget was, according to many reports. So we all know where the financial health of this media/entertainment enterprise is going.

TV shows should embrace better future data stars — and leave out the metric wars.

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