‘Dollhouse’ draws big DVR numbers
“Dollhouse” fans can breathe easier: Fox will air all 13 episodes.
On the heels of impressive DVR data for the “Dollhouse” premiere, network execs said they will run each produced hour of the show’s current order despite the Friday drama’s modest overall ratings.
“We’re going to run all the episodes,” Fox scheduling chief Preston Beckman said. “We’re not saying we’re happy with those numbers, or accept them, but we don’t have to overreact.”
Premiere-week DVR data released Monday showed that the second-season “Dollhouse” debut climbed 50% from its very modest base of a 1.0 rating in the adults 18-49 demo. Beckman said DVR results have played a role in the show’s fate, though he wasn’t surprised by the new numbers.
“It’s one of the reasons that we brought ‘Dollhouse’ back; we knew it was DVR-friendly,” Beckman said. “Hopefully we’ll see the overnight ratings increase from week to week. With some shows, you have to look at the bigger picture.”
As for ordering additional episodes, or a third season, Fox says it will make that decision after the current run.
The news represents a relief to “Dollhouse” fans that the current season won’t be cut short but also suggests that a full-season order is unlikely. Waiting until all 13 episodes have aired before making a decision generally means allowing production on the show to shut down for the season.
“Dollhouse” creator Joss Whedon said he’s writing the 13th hour to give fans a degree of closure.
“We’ll definitely have closure but will leave some doors open,” said Whedon, who’s shooting the eighth episode.
“Dollhouse” stood in sharp contrast to its lead-in, Fox’s freshman comedy “Brothers,” which occupied the other extreme end of DVR data, and was flat.
The program with the largest overall rating increase based on raw gains — not a percentage compared with its original number — during premiere week was ABC’s “Grey’s Anatomy,” which boosted its adult demo number from 6.7 to 8.2. That was followed by another Fox drama, “House” (6.8 to 8.2). Other top climbers based on sheer gains include “The Office” (3.9 to 4.9) and “The Mentalist” (3.6 to 4.6).
In addition to “Dollhouse,” some other shows particularly aided by DVR gains include NBC’s “Heroes” — its Live+7 rating of 3.7 is greatly improved from its previous 2.7. Same with ABC’s “Castle”; the difference between a 2.3 and 2.9 is significant in the eyes of a network. And heavy DVR gains for Fox’s Thursday lineup of “Bones” and “Fringe” suggest that the shows are drawing the short straw in terms of live viewing on the intensely competitive night.
“All viewing matters,” John Rash, senior vp at media agency Campbell Mithun, said of the gains. “The numbers particularly matter for relatively low-rated shows like ‘Dollhouse’ and ‘Smallville,’ which have an established fan base — albeit one that time-shifts — which may give a show longer life if this data wasn’t accounted for.”
Shifting back to percentage increases, after “Dollhouse” and “Smallville,” which also gained 50%, the next-biggest DVR gainer is the CW’s “90210,” climbing 40%, followed by Fox’s “Fringe” (39%) and the CW’s “Melrose Place” (38%) and “Gossip Girl” (36%).
“A time-sifted show signifies engagement with the content because they’ve taken that extra step,” said Shari Anne Brill, vp and director of programming at Carat. “A lack of time-shifting suggests, ‘If I miss it, oh well.’ ”
NBC’s “The Jay Leno Show” occupied many of the lower spots, generally gaining about a tenth of a rating point (or 5%). This was expected and was one of NBC’s selling points of Leno’s show (“DVR-proof”).
“God didn’t invent news to be time-shifted, nor Jay Leno,” said NBC’s research guru Alan Wurtzel. “The whole point of Leno is to be topical.”
Wurtzel noted one aspect that was surprising was how quickly viewers have continued to adopt time-shifted viewing — overall, broadcast shows gained an average of 14% for premiere week, compared with 9% last year. The CW gained the most (30%), followed by Fox (19%), CBS (13%), ABC (12%) and NBC (7%).
‘Dollhouse’ draws big DVR numbers