It’s not a secret that viewership is turning more and more away from traditional live broadcasts on television. But that’s not always considered when deciding the fate of a show.
And an advocacy group fighting for the continuation of “Warehouse 13” wants to make sure Syfy knows there is more than just live viewing that needs to be considered on whether or not that series gets a fifth season.
Renew Warehouse 13 surveyed more than 4,500 viewers of “Warehouse 13” (although it was skewed to the female side) and found that the most common way people are watching the one-time top-rated scripted show on Syfy was through online channels, and not from their television set.
Of the respondents, online viewing vs. live viewing vs. recording and watching together was pretty much split. Online viewing did lead with 35.4 percent, while live viewing checked in at just under 31 percent. However, DVR viewing actually beat live viewers, but not by much.
When it came to viewers under 26, the results were much more dramatic. There nearly 46 percent said they turn to places like Apple’s iTunes or even Syfy.com to watch episodes of “Warehouse 13” as their primary platform. A little more than 32 percent said they watched it live primarily, while just under 21 percent said they record it on their DVR to watch later.
“Fans of science-fiction shows have long held — often deserved — reputations as geeks and nerds; people who love their gadgets and embrace technology,” the Renew Warehouse 13 organizers said in a release of their non-scientific study. “The data presented by this survey suggest that the ‘Warehouse 13’ audience is increasingly embracing multiple viewing platforms, and that online viewing methods are supplementing or even supplanting live broadcast viewing.”
The review of the data, however, does not necessarily indicate an increasing embrace, however, of these technologies. Renew Warehouse 13 did not provide any control numbers from previous years showing reduced use of online platforms to watch shows, and are basing the “increase” on the fact that programming available online — and the technology to harness it — have become increasingly available in recent years.
The advocacy group also faults The Nielsen Co. — the company that helps aggregate viewer counts for shows — for not fully accounting for these alternative viewing methods (although Nielsen has been increasing its efforts to do so in recent years), saying that the company’s ratings “do not represent the number of fans the show has, and should not be the only metric by which viewers are counted.”
Yet, a flaw in that argument is the fact that ratings are for advertisers, and the most profitable distribution method for cable channels still, in 2013, is selling ads for live broadcast on television, and not through other alternative means. While other platform viewing might increase the overall audience, it fails to provide benefit to Syfy itself on the grander scale, because those viewers cannot be among those counted when Syfy sets rates for their advertisers.
The Renew Warehouse 13 efforts continue while cast, crew and the fans wait for a renewal decision from Syfy. The group has just started a new campaign called “Snag, Bag and Nag,” encouraging fans to take pictures of “artifacts,” and e-mail them to Syfy president Dave Howe among others.
“Warehouse 13” airs Mondays at 10 p.m. ET on Syfy.