The grass roots costs of saving a television show
I want to talk to you about a grass roots campaign to save Eli Stone. You see, I had this idea where fans of the program would send George Michael paraphernalia - CDs, MP3s, T-Shirts, programs, videos - to the executive mugwumps over at ABC in order to express their frustration that they were not picking up the back nine episodes of the series. It would have been similar in scope to the Great Peanut Campaign of 2007 that ending up (temporarily) saving Jericho.Then I got to thinking, which is always a bad sign. While a campaign such as this could result in programming executives opening their minds for just a minuscule amount of time to the possibilities of continuin the series, I'm not too sure it would be worth it. Not 'worth' in the terms that the campaign would fall on the deaf ears of the tailor-suited wonks. I'm talking about 'worth' in what it would cost the fans of the show to get the materials and ship them out to send a message. We are in a recession, after all.
Now, you're probably glaring at the computer screen right now and sarcastically asking 'Well, Rich, how much would it really cost to send a CD to these programming idiots?' Actually, when you think about it, quite a bit. Take the purchase of the CD. Let's say you go to an online site like Amazon to purchase George Michael's Faith album, which contains many songs that were titles to season one episodes of Eli Stone.
On Amazon you can purchase this album for around $9. Factor in a few dollars for shipping, since you need at least $25 to qualify for their Free Super Saver program. Then, since you want to include a specific, insult-laden note, you'll want to have it shipped to your residence to mail it yourself. Add a few more dollars to purchase the padded mailer and some insurance to deliver it. Before you know it, this protest statement has cost you $20 that you can't really afford to lose.
Well, you say to yourself, I'll just download one song that I can burn onto a CD. Okay, that's certainly cheap at about $.99 a song on Amazon or iTunes. But, you may need to purchase an actual CD that you can burn the music onto, and that will cost a few dollars. Include the delivery items mentioned previously and you are looking at a potential cost of $10 or more. I'll just buy it at my local store, you say in frustration. Yes, in that case you'll save money on shipping costs; however, you'll need to factor in the amount of gas you use traveling to and from the (most likely) big box store where you buy the album. Gas you will want to use when you need to look for a new job once you get laid off.
The examples I gave above don't just apply to Eli Stone. It would apply to the other shows, past and present, that people tried to save through a grass roots campaign. Take Pushing Daisies, for instance. The most logical protest I could think of (which has probably been done already) is to send daisies to the network executives. Even in the best of times flowers don't come cheap and sending only one daisy wouldn't even phase the suits. A few dozen per fan...that could say something. But with a basket of these flowers ranging from $30-$35, plus shipping, the outcome of your statement may not outweigh the physical price you pay.
And don't even think about sending pies! If you thought sending flowers was expensive, think about the costs of materials and shipping a homemade pie to these executives. Everything from flour to fruit has skyrocketed in price over the last few years. Then, you would probably need to ship the product in a refrigerated container. Yes, you could certainly order a pre-made pie online, but those aren't cheap either. Some of these frozen pies can run you in the $20 range, not including the cost of delivery.
What it comes down to is what you are able to afford. If you are an avid fan of a particular program, and have some money to burn, you may want to send something like a George Michael CD or a pie to the network executives to show your support for the show. However, since many of us have very little to burn these days, perhaps it's better to startup a letter writing campaign that people, or sign one of the online petitions that have cropped up. Perhaps even sending an invitation out for a flash mob protest in front of the network offices would work. It's certainly better than having your hard-earned money wasted by executives who look at the dollar more than the viewer. What do you think?