Friday, October 25, 2013

A Motley Fool uupdate -- the Avengers probably can beat up the Agents of SHIELD

Just to recap: about a month ago Motley Fool ran a post with the provocative suggestion that the television program Agents of SHIELD could be bigger than the movie from which it was spun off, The Avengers.

This was an extraordinarily ambitious target. The Avengers was one of the very few movies in film history to break $1 billion at the box office and it made God knows how much more than that when you take into account marketing, rental and streaming, and the tentpole effect on other films in the franchise such as the upcoming Thor and Capt. America movies.

Even when you take into account the fact that a strong show can indirectly generate additional revenue through its effect on the rest of the lineup, the idea that this program would be bigger than the movie that spawned it would require Agents of SHIELD to be a huge perhaps even unprecedented television hit.

To support the claim that this was a relatively likely outcome, the Motley Fool writer offered very little in the way of argument other than his assurance that these things were going to be big.

How have these assurances panned out so far?
On Tuesday night, S.H.I.E.L.D. had 7.1 million viewers and a 2.6 rating among adults 18-49 at 8 p.m. This is still a good rating in this slot, especially when ABC has also recently launched freshman dramas that are much weaker, like Lucky 7, Betrayal and Once Upon a Time in Wonderland. Yet here’s how the Marvel series has tracked so far in the adult demo: A 4.7 rating for the show’s premiere, then 3.3, 2.9, 2.8 and now a 2.6.

It’s common for even successful and long-running new shows to drop the first two weeks after their launch, or even for three weeks. But now we’re on Week 5. We’re seeing some new shows stabilize or even improve in the ratings — last night, under-achievers like Fox’s Brooklyn Nine-Nine and ABC’s The Goldbergs finally crept up a bit. On Monday night, CBS’ Mom went up for the first time and Hostages held steady. Yet S.H.I.E.L.D is still trending down. Can Melinda May pull the S.H.I.E.L.D. jet out of its dive? Comic veteran Jim Steranko says the show has found its groove creatively. So why are fans still ditching? ABC has ordered a full season of S.H.I.E.L.D., so it’s not going anywhere anytime soon. But those numbers must stop dropping at some point, hopefully sooner rather than later.
 [A quick side note: Steranko (who arguably deserves co-creator credit for the original S.H.I.E.L.D along with Kirby and Lee) has a weekly gig at the Hollywood Reporter reviewing the show and his take is a bit more negative than the "found its groove" line suggests.]

You'll notice the focus on the 18-49 audience. This is area of some controversy in marketing circles and I've heard a lot of smart people in the field suggest that, while a thirty-year-old set of eyeballs might be somewhat more valuable to an advertiser than a sixty-year-old set, the difference isn't big enough to justify dropping a huge segment of the population from your metrics.

Without getting too far into the debate, I will say that it's a good idea to look at both numbers. In this case, pay particular attention to CBS. NCIS remains a powerhouse across all demographics. I'm not a fan of the franchise but Bellisario has been at this for a long time and he has perfected a tremendously successful formula of action, military culture, quirk-heavy characters and at least one scenery-chewing veteran thespian  per show. SHIELD is heavily targeted at 18-49 and it's not even winning there.

8:30PBRKLYN 9-9-1.63,777
9:00PNEW GIRL-1.83,759
9:30PMINDY PRJCT-1.42,858
9:30PTROPHY WIFE-1.24,030
10-11PSHARK TNKRS1.13,450
NBC8-9PBIGST LR15-2.06,636
10-11PCHICAGO FIRE-2.17,586

To be clear, we can't say definitively that the Motley Fool writer was wrong. After all, he only said this was possible, but it is important to remember a few things:

His suggestion was not just wrong, it was directionally wrong. He suggested that the series might wildly outperform expectations. Instead, it has at least mildly underperformed them;

His arguments for the suggestion were called out as being weak at the time;

Organizations like Motley Fool, CNBC, and other providers of stock tips are encouraging individuals to engage in an activity that is very risky. Almost no one who is getting their information from a post they see on Yahoo should be engaged in the business of stock picking.

1 comment:

  1. Should I be impressed that the show is beating three other networks (Fox, CW, NBC)? Number #2 of 5 isn't terrible.

    Not as good as a blockbuster movie, of course.