FRINGE's Jeff Pinkner and J.H. Wyman to Fans: Don't Worry About the Ratings - Give Me My Remote : Give Me My Remote

FRINGE’s Jeff Pinkner and J.H. Wyman to Fans: Don’t Worry About the Ratings

February 15, 2011 by  

After a few solid weeks where FRINGE kicked ratings butt, this past Friday’s numbers (3.7 million viewers and a 1.4 in the important demo) sent Twitter into a tizzy with people declaring that the “death slot” had claimed another victim.

But is the show really that bad off?

When I talked with FRINGE showrunners Jeff Pinkner and J.H. Wyman earlier today, we discussed their passionate fanbase and why the ratings aren’t as bad as some people think they are…

With the latest ratings freaking out many of the fans, what can you tell them about the reality of the situation?
J.H. Wyman:
When CSI goes down 20% and every single show on the night goes down and they [all] had their lowest postings and FRINGE is one of those shows, you can’t single out FRINGE and say, “Oh no.” And we’ve been told, as long as we’re getting a 1.2 [in the important demo] or whatever, that’s okay for Friday nights, man! That [first week demo rating of] 1.9…nobody in any way shape or form, from the top of Fox to the top of Warner Bros., nobody expected us to do a 1.9 in any of their deepest fantasies.

But we did post a 1.9 and it was miraculous. And then it went down and we went, okay, there’s a hit that we’re taking, but our DVR [numbers] brought us back up, so they were just as pleased. So that’s the status quo.

When things go down across the board, the viewers need to understand that that’s okay. That’s when people can rationalize [the ratings decrease]. When they can’t rationalize it is when everything goes up or posts even and your show is going down. That’s the problem. Friday nights…traditionally, nothing has worked [on Fox]. But if we’re continuing with a 1.4, a 1.5 and the DVRs are going up and we’re still posting a 2.3 or 2.4 with the DVRs, that’s good.

Jeff Pinkner: Our message is at the end of the day, we don’t lose a lot of sleep over [the ratings] because there’s nothing we can do about it except make the best show that we can and hope the fans continue to watch. And thus far, they are. And thank you. All we can do is make the best show we know how. Our message to our fans would be please don’t fret, watch the show, don’t be anxious and enjoy the story.

JW: It’s the fan support and obviously…the media, being so fantastic to our show and being so kind and wanting to give great reviews and supporting [the show] by trying to convince people to watch it if they’re missing it — it’s because of you guys and the fans we’re still here. We’re like, “We have the greatest fans in the world and the greatest support from the media, that’s fantastic, and we’re lucky, so let’s just keep on making these great shows.” If the viewer can, watch the show live. If they can’t, DVR it. That’s the message. That’s the only thing people will respond to over at Fox. They’re not going to say, “It’s critically acclaimed and the fans really like it but nobody’s watching it.” We’ve seen things like that with ARRESTED DEVELOPMENT and shows that have done really well creatively and review-wise but didn’t have the viewers [so they got canceled].

Right now, [for our] Friday night [spot], this is how it went: when we got moved to Thursdays, everybody said we were getting canceled. Fox said, no, they’re not getting canceled, we’re going to try and do this and we got clobbered. And everybody said, okay, now they’re really get canceled. And Fox said, no, no, no, we believe in this show, we’re not going to cancel them, we promise we’re not going to cancel them, everything will be okay. And then our numbers went down even further and everybody said, okay, they’re getting canceled. And then everybody kept saying, move nights, move nights, get off that night! And then we got moved to Fridays [and] everybody said, they’re getting canceled.

There are always going to be naysayers, there’s always going to be people who bring things down and I understand because I, myself, am one of those people that’s been let down when one of my favorite shows has been [canceled] and I’m like, “Aww, come on, you did that?” And I’ve created shows I’ve felt [should have lasted] longer. I understand why people are nervous, but with all the support we’re getting from the fans and the media, that’s a good thing. Friday can be reinvented. And [Fox] can realize that Friday can actually be a revenue night for them, [where they can] gain a foothold and gain some purchase on that night and realize, wait a minute, Friday night is a viable night.

I just want everyone to be rational when they look at the numbers. Everything went down. A lot of the guys who should know better, a lot of these people who do those commentaries, when they look at those numbers and say, “Oh, that’s not a good thing for FRINGE.” It’s like, what? CSI went down 20%! Everything posted its lowest numbers! Why are you singling out FRINGE?

It’s possible dire headlines can equal site traffic.
I guess that’s it. So I just don’t want our fans to feel bad. I want our fans to realize this is a great show and we’re going to keep on supporting it. Story wise, we aren’t going to let anybody down and the only way we can have a mutual symbiotic relationship is if [fans] say they’ll keep watching, we’re invested in it and we love it. If the show eventually one day gets canceled, it’s not going to be because [that fan stopped watching].

JP: FRINGE is a show that by design is not for everyone. It requires a different degree of passion, it requires a different degree of investment, it requires a different degree of attention. And we always said not everybody likes licorice, but the people who like licorice really like licorice and are passionate about it. So we’re making the show for those people.

JW: It’s no accident that Walter loves licorice. I know that CHUCK did that campaign where they had their fans buy Subway [sandwiches] to show the network that there was an army of consumers behind that show. So everybody, go buy licorice.

JP: Twizzlers is not one of our supporters, so it’s not commercialism. But the message is if our fans remain passionate, we will remain invested and we will continue make this show the best we can for the fans we have. Because we know we have great fans.

Feeling any better FRINGE fans? Or are you ready to hit the nearest store and buy up some Twizzlers?

Make sure to check back with Give Me My Remote for more from our chat with Pinkner and Wyman.


FRINGE: Should Peter Pick Olivia or Fauxlivia? Anna Torv Weighs In
FRINGE’s Jasika Nicole: Friday is the New Thursday!
FRINGE: J.J. Abrams Admits He’s ‘Terrified’ by the Friday Move but Promises Big Things Ahead

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Filed under #1 featured, Fringe


19 Responses to “FRINGE’s Jeff Pinkner and J.H. Wyman to Fans: Don’t Worry About the Ratings”

  1. Angie on February 15th, 2011 9:07 pm

    This makes me feel a lot better!! But people still need to watch LIVE!!
    Thanks Marisa!

  2. donna on February 15th, 2011 9:11 pm

    Every week this show has been on the air, has been a gift to all fans of quality television. Let’s face it – good TV is a rarity because most TV viewers only want shallow stuff they don’t have to focus on. This is a hard fact! Those of us who love good TV have to drink deeply of it, whenever and wherever we can find it, even though the days of any truly imaginative TV show are ALWAYS numbered.

    So this TV viewer is ever thankful for Fringe… But guess what, it’s STILL ON, folks! So live for the moment… and keep showing the love!

  3. Aimee on February 15th, 2011 9:14 pm

    Well, I don’t have a Nielsen box, but I’m glued to the screen Friday nights, I have a Season pass on Amazon for episodes and I watch the re-run on Saturdays with my fiance. I have the DVDs and bought the S1 soundtrack. S2 is pre-ordered.

    If WB or FOX sold Fringe merchandise, I’d buy a few t-shirts, caps, etc. Fringe has the potential to be a franchise. I hope WB considers this when it is time to negotiate fees for a possible Season 4.

  4. ForensicMama on February 15th, 2011 9:21 pm

    Whew! That makes me feel lots better! Thanks, Marisa!

  5. donna on February 15th, 2011 9:21 pm

    Also… I just wish this could get back to the producers… even IF the show goes off the air, WE DO NOT WANT THE STORY TO END… find another way to tell it somehow beyond television if necessary!

  6. Big_Boss on February 15th, 2011 9:21 pm

    Just like the majority of cast/crew of all shows, these two producers don’t have a clue about the ratings. This is the thesis of the interview — “Our message is at the end of the day, we don’t lose a lot of sleep over [the ratings] because there’s nothing we can do about it”. And that’s fine, but everything else is just spin. Also, DVR does NOT matter.

  7. Terry on February 15th, 2011 11:04 pm

    @ Big_Boss

    Of course these producers know about the ratings. Their show and jobs depend on an audience…that’s why they make the show. I don’t disagree that this article is spin, but don’t say that these showrunners don’t know what’s going on.

  8. Big_Boss on February 15th, 2011 11:16 pm

    Except they don’t. They’re creative. Many a show producer has publicly said they do not understand the ratings or how they work. They’re not on the network end and really don’t grasp the system well. Nor should they. As I said — “Our message is at the end of the day, we don’t lose a lot of sleep over [the ratings] because there’s nothing we can do about it” is all you should take out of this interview. Claiming 1.2 is acceptable (it isn’t) and DVR results matter (they don’t) proves they have no clue what they’re talking about.

    In another interview today, they also said “they would not be shocked if the show was axed”, which completely contradicts the notion that people shouldn’t be worried about Fringe’s ratings. And this is an interview given on the SAME day. They’re peddling their product and I applaud them for the effort, but when it comes to discussing network matters, they’re out of their element.

    Source for other interview:

  9. Del Coro on February 15th, 2011 11:24 pm

    They’re producers of a network television show.

    You’re an asshole on a website.

    I wonder who knows more about how television works?

  10. Big_Boss on February 15th, 2011 11:31 pm

    @Del Coro
    I’m just giving perspective and deconstructing the spin. If all you have to offer to the discussion is personal insults, well you don’t have much to offer.

  11. LonelyS on February 16th, 2011 12:04 am

    I barely glanced at the headline, so can’t speak for the content of the article. I am deathly afraid of spoilers or “official” explanations for storylines that I’m still mulling over.
    But I wanted to add my support. Cancellation would break my tv-viewing heart which is still stinging from Better Off Ted. Good luck Fringe!

  12. Marisa Roffman on February 16th, 2011 12:34 am

    @Big_Boss: That was a write-around from an actual interview the guys did with FearNet last week. It was a long interview, and digitalspy wrote around the quote most likely to get them hits. (which is slightly ironic, considering dire headlines to bait panicked fans was touched upon in my chat with the EPs)

    This is the *actual* quote from the real article: “Looking at the ratings and where you are heading, would you be shocked if Fringe wasn’t renewed for a fourth season?

    Jeff: I don’t think we’d ever say we would be really shocked if it wasn’t. We recognize that every episode we get to make we are lucky. As we’ve indicated several times during this conversation, we have lots of stories we hope to have the good fortune to tell. I’m superstitious enough not to expect anything.”

    At this point with Fox’s lineup, from the shows that aren’t already renewed, the only live-action shows that SHOULD be shocked to not get a renewal would be House, Bones and American Idol (Glee is already renewed). Everything else isn’t a huge major hit and could conceivably go either way. That’s not to say they expect FRINGE to get canceled and it’s not to say they would be shocked if FRINGE is renewed.

    I talked with the producers today. What you see in the post is how they are feeling today. That’s not to say it’s not possible they won’t feel differently tomorrow, next week or a month from now. But from what they’ve been told as far as what the network expects for a Friday night, they’re doing good.

  13. Big_Boss on February 16th, 2011 12:45 am

    @ Marisa Roffman — “But from what they’ve been told as far as what the network expects for a Friday night, they’re doing good.”
    They should have a chat with Tim Minear then. He has plenty of stories of network executives telling him everything is fine. At the end of the day, nobody is going to buy the notion that a 1.2 for a first-run scripted show on a Friday night will work on FOX. Reruns of Bones on Friday nights rated as high in the fall and unscripted shows on Friday nights rate higher than that now. It’s an unsustainable economic model. Showrunners have to remain optimistic and I respect their work and enjoy their show, but, like they said, they can’t do anything about the ratings. That doesn’t, however, mean we shouldn’t worry about them.

  14. Jackson on February 16th, 2011 2:05 am

    They probably mean that a 1.2 is safe for the show to air without getting yanked early. There’s no way it’s good enough for a renewal. TSCC died a horrible death with those numbers, and it’s only .2 over Dollhouse which was in-house produced, only renewed by a miracle and Joss’s commitment to cut the cost of the show – and that failed miserably the following fall.

    Fringe is doomed unless it recovers to a 1.9 or higher.

  15. Rekka on February 16th, 2011 5:30 am

    It gets very discouraging when so many people start posting paranoid, negative messages over the recent ratings and the dislike for the current plotline. I understand the concern over the ratings because I was majorly let down by ABC many years ago when the cancelled Miracles; but I have a little more faith in FOX, the producers, and all the people that are still here supporting the show. I may not particularly like a certain plot element but it will never turn me away from the show. Thanks for everyone who makes this show a wonderful, Fringe-ful reality!!!

  16. Saren on February 16th, 2011 1:07 pm

    Terminator had a 1.3 average on Fridays after getting 1.8/1.9 on Monday nights, just like Fringe did on Thursday nights and it got the axe. ‘Nuff said. No way is FOX gonna renew Fringe with a 1.2.

  17. Keith on February 16th, 2011 3:22 pm

    It’s a great show and I’ll continue watching. Nothing’s been decided yet and I’m hoping for the best. Television needs more quality shows like Fringe.

  18. Keith on February 16th, 2011 3:34 pm

    It’s a great show and I’ll continue watching. Nothing’s been decided yet and I’m hoping for the best. Television has very few quality shows anymore. Fringe deserves to stay on a few more years

  19. rose on February 16th, 2011 8:59 pm

    It makes me feel better knowing that all the shows had a drop. I love Fringe and watch the show every week in HD. I Work at DISH Network and get my HD free for life and it makes the show sooo much better. I would think that there is no plan on this show being cancelled with what happened on last week’s episode. With Olivia being pregnant in the other universe that just opened up a new box. I can’t wait for next week.