Thursday, June 7, 2007

Saving Jericho

A few weeks back, when the major broadcast networks announced their fall 2007 television schedules, Jericho was nowhere to be found on CBS' schedule. The drama about a rural Kansas town trying to survive in the wake of a nuclear attack, without electricity and without contact with the outside world, was a show worthy of a spot on the schedule. It was one of my "Top 5 Shows to Save for 2007" and while it had its dark moments, overall, it was a quality drama. The ratings though, especially after a mid-season hiatus, slipped throughout the year, and at the upfronts in May, CBS chose to cancel Jericho and give some new dramas a spot in its stead.

That's when Jericho fans reacted. Every year popular television shows are canceled, to much dismay to online fans, and every years fans of certain shows promise to write the networks, to protest, to bring the show back from the dead. It rarely, if ever works. But the Jericho fans were smart. They were clever and they got momentum behind them. They started a "Nuts" campaign (based off a comment made by main character Skeet Ulrich in the season finale) and Sent 25 tons of peanuts to CBS.

So, CBS, in a remarkable about face, has turned around on Jericho. Rescued from the scrap heap, Jericho will return for at least seven episodes this winter, with the promise of more should Jericho's devoted fan-base spread-the-word and increase the show's ratings.

At this time, I cannot tell you the specific date or time period that Jericho will return to our schedule. However, in the interim we are working on several initiatives to help introduce the show to new audiences. This includes rebroadcasting Jericho on CBS this summer, streaming episodes and clips from these episodes across the CBS Audience Network (online), releasing the first season DVD on Sept. 25, and continuing the story of Jericho in the digital world until the new episodes return. We will let you know specifics when we have them so you can pass them on.

On behalf of everyone at CBS, thank you for expressing your support of Jericho in such an extraordinary manner. Your protest was creative, sustained and very thoughtful and respectful in tone. You made a difference.

CBS deserves a lot of credit for bringing Jericho back. Despite the sustained online protest, and the tons of peanuts now being delivered to charities across the country, ratings are ratings, which is why Jericho was canceled in the first place. But as the protest showed, maybe ratings aren't ratings anymore, and with CBS' online video-player showing Jericho episodes, and other methods of watching the show, obviously, these fans came from somewhere. And CBS listening is a great sign, not just for Jericho fans, but for fans of all television shows. Networks are listening. You just need to make sure they hear you.

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