Originally Posted by Stumpokapow
See, I think they require defence here; I don't really like the obvious baiting (but that's their business, naturally, since very few people are interested in ratings outside a means to justify the end of having the shows they like renewed--they've openly said before that trolling cult favourite shows causes a noticable traffic spike)... but the MO of the site, and the Cancellation Bear, is to debunk several pre-TVBTN conceptions:
- Shows are cancelled if they have low retention, even if they otherwise do well
- Shows are renewed if they do well compared to shows on other networks
- Shows are cancelled or renewed based on overall viewers, not target demo viewers
- Shows cancellation/renewal is primarily behind-the-scenes black magic, and not ratings performance
If you go back to, like, 2008, the TVBTN cancellation model was literally just "Stuff that does worse than average on a network will be cancelled, stuff that does better will be renewed". I mean, that's exceptionally parsimonious--it's a one-variable model that predicted probably 80-85% of decisions. They've since complicated their model fudge-factoring Fridays, favouring shows renewed to achieve syndication thresholds (which have apparently been falling for years), splitting fall and winter performances to try to counterweight high premieres that drop quickly, etc. But at the core, the purpose of the Cancellation Bear model is just to say that you can with relatively good precision model cancellations and renewals mathematically.
Nate Silver they aren't, of course, but they're basically a response to punditry and inside baseball stuff, and I think that's a good counterweight. I like that non-industry people are influential. Sometimes people in the industry push back against that kind of stuff because "they're behind the scenes, they see the actual discussions that go on", but the main point here is that regardless of what goes on behind the scenes, if you can model the industry without knowing anything except ratings, then ratings are the thing worth knowing.
I also think that even though their "Fan Excuse Bingo" is a little hurtful to people, it's also largely true. It's like invoking Kubler-Ross on someone who is having an angry reaction. Yeah, it's patronizing, but if they lack the self-awareness to see how their feelings are getting in the way of basic logic, then they probably should be made aware of that. They should probably use it less like a cudgel, I guess.
I'd also add that TVBTN does a fantastic job collecting and quickly reporting data; literally every ratings citation on Wikipedia since the site started links to TVBTN and that's a testament to the fact that, organically, they've become the best place to go to get stuff in an accurate, reliable, comparable, and fast way.
TVBTN does a fantastic job collecting data and amassing it -- it's the first place I'd go if I needed to find something from last week or even last year. There's absolutely no denying that and I thank them for it.
My problem with TVBTN is that things do happen behind the scenes that affect a show's cancellation or renewal chances, especially when live ratings are so low that financials that you nor I will view become the means at which something is saved or not. Outside of Arrow, Supernatural, and The Vampire Diaries, any cancellation index on the CW is basically useless. I would say the same is true for NBC besides a look at where things stand relatively. Network execs have specific agendas when they craft a schedule and believe (and don't believe) in certain shows over another one. The idea that "it's Sony, they slash their budgets for everything to get syndication!" is both true and not true. That's a very basic and not entirely true statement that's now perpetuated through the internet as something gospel.
A perfect example of what I'm talking about is Body of Proof. It should have been canceled by TVBTN's metric, but it wasn't. That's because it's a show that has done extremely well for ABC Studios outside of America. It's also a procedural, something that ABC Studios lacks because ABC as a network has done specifically well with soaps that don't rerun well or are hard to sell internationally. Instead of owning that and looking at maybe why Body of Proof was renewed, it's run over as a casual blip in the system. There are increasingly more variables than they're willing to realize. Anyone can tell you that Modern Family will get renewed and Don't Trust the Bitch will be canceled. But how do you parce out something like Happy Endings/Malibu Country/Last Man Standing/The Neighbors/or even Suburgatory? That's where financials we don't see along with development slates become important.
I also find the Cancellation Bear to be incredibly childish. That's more of a personal preference than anything else.
(I also don't work at a network, I don't want to work at a network, and I would prefer if the highest quality products to my tastes were what lived to see another day. So everything I say is colored with the fact that I'm looking at this from a different perspective than those who actually are invested in the ratings of every show on their network)