Now that Kristen Bell, Rob Thomas, and the entire Veronica Mars universe have learned just what a mobilized fanbase can do for a TV franchise, are we looking at the gestational period of a new world order of post-television crowdsourcing?
This represents an evolution for "Save Our Show" campaigns – viewers are putting their money where their remotes are. In the past, Jericho fans famously sent 50,000 self-referential pounds of peanuts to CBS in support of the show, Roswellfans sent bottles of Tabasco sauce to the WB, and Subway was the corporate benefactor of motivated Chuck fans.
But powers behind Veronica Mars took things to another level when they began dialogue via Twitter that they might be able to make a big-screen version thanks to a provisional distribution deal. All they needed to do was raise $2 million in 30 days and they might be able to revive the cult CW/UPN hit.
It took less than 12 hours.
Thomas and Bell were wise to realize that they had an untapped resource at hand in social media. Here it was, six years later, and this show that that sported a small (yet devoted) audience when it was on a young network was able to raise over two million dollars in half a day.
This just reinforces Nielsen's findings of the symbiotic relationship between television and Twitter . Clearly, television resonates with fans well beyond cancellation; the media life of a program can last well beyond its broadcast life. And now, social media has all but obliterated the offscreen "Fourth Wall" between the shows and their fans. Fans are invested emotionally, and thanks to the power of social media, they're willing to invest financially as well.
Crowd funding combines today's culture of social activism, social media, and pop culture. Veronica Mars represents a unique proposition – a quality show with fanatical audience; a strong use of social media, not only by the demographic but also of the principals of the show; the first opportunity for many of the core demo to scratch the itch of nostalgia; and untested good faith.
Ultimately, success has as much to do with scale as it does with devotion. During its final season on the CW, Veronica Mars was delivering a solid 2.4 Live+Same Day rating with both their Female Teens and W18-24 targets, so the core audience was there. But social media of 2007 wasn't what it is today. Where once it would be enough for fans to inundate the offices of the CW with millions of Mars bars – "at least we've told them how strongly we feel about this…" – now, fans are able to up the ante.
Now, they send their dollars, with the hope that it will be enough to seed the production costs. Could this be the rise of "the motivated viewer"?
Just ask Rob Thomas and Kristen Bell about fans of broadcast programs. If you watch it – and tweet it – they will come.
Don Seaman joined the TVB in January 2012 as Manager of Marketing Communications, where he is responsible for promoting and raising awareness of the TVB, and of Local Broadcast Television’s value propositions within the traditional and digital media industries. Don can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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