To NBC Execs:
Renewal season is set to start, and many of us are holding our breaths waiting for the verdict to be passed on Revolution. We’re not delusional; we know the ratings aren’t stellar. If it is renewed, the odds are its quiet saving grace will probably come down to another show underperforming even worse and the simple fact that you have no good pilots to take Revolution’s place.
However, before you drop the proverbial guillotine on Revolution, consider, if you will, what you would be giving up.
Revolution is one of the better written shows on primetime via the major broadcast networks. It balances a dark, unexpected humor with heart-wrenching drama. It features individual characters that are (mostly) akin to real people: they can be funny, annoying, stupid, and epic all at once. They grow and develop, just as the show has grown and developed in the past two years. The writing is clever, the plots are action-packed, and the show has lost a lot of the filler that bogged down the first season. To put it simply, it has ceased to be a good show, and grown into a clever show.
But perhaps the merits of Revolution itself don’t interest you. That’s fine; NBC is a business, after all. So let’s look at the numbers.
In comparison to some of the other shows you air, such as Grimm or Chicago Fire, Revolution has been much more consistent and predictable in ratings. It doesn’t drop more than half a point from week to week, and its ratings from the second episode of season 2 are much the same as they are with the most recent episode. Grimm, on the other hand, has been all over the place - high in the beginning at 6.15, then low with 4.88, then mediocre: 5.33, then high with 5.88 - and it’s less predictable in terms of ratings.
Furthermore, Revolution’s consistent ratings are made all the more impressive by its time slot, because Revolution has one, true enemy: Arrow. Due to the beauty of the internet and social media, it’s easy to note a pattern in the viewing habits of your intended audience. Via people complaining about the time conflict on Tumblr, Twitter, and even Facebook, it’s apparent that a good portion of the people who watch Arrow also watch Revolution. The number of posts praising “Charloe” and “Olicity” in the same breath tells me that Arrow undoubtably eats into Revolution’s target audience even more so than American Idol and Survivor already do - two television giants in their own right. Revolution would serve better against a show that doesn’t share its intended audience. Revolution needs a different time slot.
It also needs to be noted that the way in which you’re marketing the show isn’t doing it any favors. Never mind the nonexistent promotion during the Olympics - which featured prime advertising real estate to promote Revolution - your current promotion is inconsistent at best.
Consider, if you will, the other Eric Kripke show, Supernatural, from the CW. Despite the fact that this show has, admittedly, jumped the shark - and that the ratings aren’t as high as Arrow or other newer shows - the CW continuously renews it. Acknowledging that the CW runs on a slightly skewed ratings system in terms of what they consider successful, even they should admit that a 1.85 rating is not good enough to be considered the “sure thing” that most execs and critics believe it to be. So why renew Supernatural?
Simple: the CW knows what it’s doing. Supernatural has ceased to be about the show itself, and it has become an internet phenomenon. The CW isn’t selling the show anymore; they’re selling the experience. They’re selling the chance to follow Jared and Misha on Twitter, to highjack Tumblr posts with Supernatural memes, to make fan videos and stories that their friends and the actors can see and enjoy. For Supernatural, it’s not about the content of the show or the ratings. It’s about the rabid fanbase that will do anything to continue to be a part of this world.
Revolution has the ability to garner this sort of a following. It has everything it needs to be successful: quirky dialogue, intricate plots, evolving characters, good deaths, and even a subtle humor. It already has a large number of fans creating videos and stories and GIFs about the show after each new episode airs. Discussion and debate abound on Tumblr and Twitter as plot twists are revealed and characters face unsurmountable odds. Friends are made through the #Revolution, and people in the tangible world are making real connections through the digital world because of this show. #RevolutionReturns was the number one trend for over an hour on Twitter in the United States this past Wednesday, beating out Twitter-crazy #Survivor. The fan base is growing larger with each passing week, and a community is beginning to form.
What Revolution lacks, therefore, is a proper time slot and a sense of online organization and promotion from NBC.
That’s how you can help this show succeed for now, and for years to come. Don’t just put out promo photos online and think you’ve marketed the show properly. Post interviews and deleted scenes, and promote those as well. I’ve been watching Revolution from the beginning, and it’s only in the last two weeks that I learned the show has a Tumblr and a Youtube account. The Revolution Revealed Youtube series is great, but nobody knows it exists. In this day and age, you have to promote your social media accounts too. Furthermore, take a page from the Doctor Who Tumblr and reblog fanart and GIFs. Engage your fans; start discussions, get them involved, and sell them the Revolution experience, not just Revolution the show.
The world has changed dramatically in the last ten years, and your marketing strategies have to change with it. What with threats to ratings like illegal streaming and a hundred college kids crammed around one TV, it’s not enough to just air a show - whether it be Revolution, Grimm, or anything else - and hope for the best. You have to sell them something so amazing that they can only get it from you. You have to sell an experience that makes them need to watch the show live so they can follow you on Twitter and Tumblr, so they can join in on the immediate discussion.
This is how you, and Revolution, will succeed. Please, from young fans of the show in the targeted 18-49 demographic everywhere, don’t axe it until you try things our way. Step into our generation, and market to us in a manner that we’ll enjoy and beg to be a part of. We both want the same thing: for the show to succeed. Give us a chance to teach you how, and give the show a chance to connect with the fans.
You won’t regret it.
You are not your job, you’re not how much money you have in the bank. You are not the car you drive. You’re not the contents of your wallet. You are not your fucking khakis. You are all singing, all dancing crap of the world.
Chuck Palahniuk; Fight Club
One thing that helps is to give myself permission to write badly. I tell myself that I’m going to do my five or 10 pages no matter what, and that I can always tear them up the following morning if I want. I’ll have lost nothing—writing and tearing up five pages would leave me no further behind than if I took the day off.
Which month-long event do you prefer: NaNoWriMo or Camp NaNoWriMo?
They’re very similar, but I have a soft spot in my heart for NaNo because I participated in that first. Camp NaNo comes at a better part of the year, though.
So which do you prefer?