A profound shift has begun to seize the television industry, reports The Washington Post, as ratings “no longer hold a key to a show’s success.

“The traditional criterion for the renewal of a series has been supplemented by other factors, including networks’ ability to sell the shows to overseas and streaming platforms. What had long been regarded as a kind of brutal meritocracy — only the most popular shows, which drive the most ad sales, are allowed to survive — is now deeply influenced by other variables, leading some shows to stay on the air for years on end with very few viewers.

“Ratings, tabulated by Nielsen to include DVR views on the same day, can be evaluated in various ways. But shows whose episodes regularly draw under 5 million viewers are often seen as struggling, especially if they’re not disproportionately strong in the 18-to-49 demographic that advertisers care about.

“On one hand, the longevity of these little-seen shows affords them more time to find viewers and a creative footing. But some cultural experts also say it leads to the blocking of fresher ideas and deepens consumer fatigue with broadcast networks, already lacking cachet in the streaming age.”

More here.

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