Why DVD and Foreign Sales Won’t Save Your Favorite Show


With apologies in advance to Greg “HEROES is well received all over the world” Grunberg, not to mention fellow TV Addicts who are pinning their favorite show’s renewal chances on ancillary revenue, we’ve got some bad news for you: Foreign and DVD sales are probably not going to be saving your ‘on-the-bubble’ show anytime soon.

We know this because after tiring of hearing fans passionately defend their favorite show’s chances of renewal with cries of, “It’s huge on DVD” or “Europe and Asia love it!” we decided it was high time to ask someone in the know. And who better to corner at the recent Television Critics Association (TCA) Press tour than that of FOX Primetime President Kevin Reilly himself, who was only too happy to set the record straight.

“Foreign markets have been a big part of our financing for a long time and international sales of are big component of how we make money on television so to a certain degree success overseas is a factor.” explained Reilly.

Unfortunately, it’s not the only factor. For unlike the film industry, which discovered long ago that boffo box office overseas can make up for disappointing domestic returns Stateside (see: G.I. Joe, Wolverine, Transformers and virtually every single Sylvester Stallone movie since 1996) the small screen operates differently.

“Unlike the Box Office which is a different entity entirely, television has to work on a ratings basis for FOX,” said Reilly. “In terms of making it financial viability we can do things like renew PRISON BREAK for a fourth season. But ultimately, saying it’s a flop in American but they love it in France simply doesn’t work.”

For the network or Reilly himself, who interestingly enough conceded that he can’t exactly sit in front of the TCA firing squad at Press Tour and defend a show with a one rating. “You guys [the media] would be asking what the hell am I doing, in the end I’d be hurting.”

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  • bws

    All true… but… Heroes will still probably get renewed for next season for all the reasons you said it wouldn’t. 5-6 million viewers and the crazy budget should NOT get it another season. But I would bet a bunch that they’ll get at least 13 to wrap it up in the fall. Besides, NBC is a mess. 5-6 million isn’t too bad for them.

  • DB

    I agree, foreign sales won’t save american tv series. but Heroes will be a special case. nbc will renew it simply because it is their marquee show even though only a handful of loyal viewers left. those extremely devoted followers who still scream and preach that their favorite show can still redeem itself from all the lameness demand a proper ending to the show. and nbc is in such a dire shape that they will give in, they just have to give the show a proper sendoff because they too have been hyping the show for so long.

  • makila

    can he explain renewing scrubs over and over agian please?

  • Nick

    DB….if Heroes is NBC’s “marquee show,” the network has bigger problems than I ever imagined.

  • Manju

    I’m just going to continue being an ignorant fan who still believes foreign DVD sales will have influence on The CW decision to renew OTH.

  • jess

    well Manju that’s possible CW is a network that expects 10+million viewers for a show they are happy if it hits 2+ so you never know and hey if they renewed 90210 and GG. I hope the CW has a bit more respect for signature shows like Smallville and One tree Hill as well.. Shows that have managed to have a loyal following for 9 and 8 years should be valued.

  • jess

    oops i meant doesn’t expect 10+ (DAMN TYPOS) #jessfail :(

  • http://iamnoahjames.com nkinsey

    CW is a little different, since they produce everything themselves, and sell it off to other countries for their OWN profit. If anything, CW is less of a network than a M-F studio viewing party.

  • KaeDee

    American network TV survives primarily on the sale of advertising time to support the series’ production costs. So it doesn’t matter as much if a show does gangbusters over seas if it only does so-so here in the US. American advertisers want to sell their products here, and don’t much care whether Europe is watching. If advertisers are buying airtime for a show that isn’t reaching viewers who have ready access to their product, that’s not productive. Advertisers leave, no money for production, no show. Sad that so many of my favorites are niche television, and those shows are so much more susceptible to being canceled.

  • Manju

    True, but when a show has been on the air for 8 years, and is such a succes on DVD overseas, don’t all the profits from that support enough to keep it up for another year?
    But then again, OTH is still one of the best advertising sales of The CW (better than either Supernatural or TVD), so if you’re right, why is it on the bubble?

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