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  • B5:The Legend of The Rangers

    As i have said in some of my other posts im new to the B5 Univers so please excuse me if this is an incredibly stupid question. I Just finished watching The Legend of The Rangers and a friend of mine told me that this was actually a pilot for a new B5 series and that it failed. Firstly is this true?, and why didnt the series come about?

  • #2
    Yes, it's true. The oft-quoted reason is that the ratings didn't justify a series. It was up against the highest-rated football game ever televised.

    The real reason? Bonnie Hammer is in charge of Sci Fi.
    "Jan Schroeder is insane" - J. Michael Straczynski, March 2008

    The Station: A Babylon 5 Podcast

    Comment


    • #3
      Originally posted by OmahaStar
      Yes, it's true. The oft-quoted reason is that the ratings didn't justify a series. It was up against the highest-rated football game ever televised.

      The real reason? Bonnie Hammer is in charge of Sci Fi.
      Omaha, you forgot her middle initials, FN
      ---
      Co-host of The Second Time Around podcast
      www.benedictfamily.org/podcast

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by OmahaStar
        Yes, it's true. The oft-quoted reason is that the ratings didn't justify a series. It was up against the highest-rated football game ever televised.

        The real reason? Bonnie Hammer is in charge of Sci Fi.
        Ratings! How do they calculate them? Is there some secret divice installed in every TV, to secretly spie on us, which channel we are watching?
        "We are the universe, trying to understand itself."

        Comment


        • #5
          Nay, a far greater evil: statistics.
          Radhil Trebors
          Persona Under Construction

          Comment


          • #6
            The ratings had nothing to do with it, poor, maligned Bonnie Hammer had nothing to do with it and football had nothing to do with it.

            Briefly: In the old model of TV production a network or cable station would pay a fixed per episode license fee to a Hollywood studio to produce a series. If the cost of each episode exceeded the license fee, that was the studio's tough luck. They would have to produce the series at a loss until they had assembled about 100 episodes (about 5 season's worth) which was considered the minimum needed for syndicated reruns. The network would collect all the ad revenue generated by the show during its run, but the studio would get all the money generated by overseas sales, syndicated reruns, merchandising (books, toys, Happy Meals) and film or other adaptations.

            As production costs rose, and restrictions on network owernship of television programs and studio ownership of TV stations and networks (relices of anti-trust decisions from the 50s) were relaxed, things began to change. A new model emerged in which the studios and networks/cable channels (often owned by the same corporate parent) shared both cost and ownership. (Which is one reason why reruns of Heroes have turned up on both The Sci-Fi Channel and USA Network - both owned by NBC/Universal and why new episodes of the Law & Order shows get a second airing on USA the week after they debut on NBC.)

            Sci-Fi and Warner Bros. are not corporate siblings, but there was still pressure from Universal to make sure that Sci-Fi owned a piece of any original series it put on the air. Warner Bros. was unwilling to sell SFC a piece of a possible Rangers series. Result: Stalemate. (This is why neither party was willing to come up with the extra cash whem JMS realized his original weapons system concept was going to cost more than budgeted, and why the cast went to work on the pilot without having signed contracts or at least options for the series in addition to the movie itself - which would have been the normal procedure.)

            Granted if the ratings had been spectacular Sci-Fi would have taken a chance, ownership or no ownership. JMS has said as much himself:

            So it's a real balancing act. If Rangers had gotten a higher rating (had it not been killed on the East Coast by the biggest football playoff in the last decade), even though it was owned by WB, they would almost certainly have committed to a series, since that rating would balance out not owning the show...on the flip side, had Rangers been owned by SFC/Universal, and gotten the same rating that it actually got, they would've been able to say "Okay, let it grow, because we own it and we're willing to take the risk and we're losing less money in license fees since we're paying them to ourselves in any event and we can get the merchandising revenues," which only the studio gets.

            JMS on the moderated newsgroup, 2 September 2002
            But the ratings were never going to be spectacular. Even on the West Coast, where the football game was not an issue, the movie did no better than a 4 rating, comparable to what previous TV movies had done for TNT, and nothing like the 10 or 12 that the two Dune mini-series had averaged in years past.

            The Dune mini-series were brought to Sci-Fi by Bonnie Hammer, by the way. The woman never gets any credit for taking a rickety cable network that was surviving on B movies and reruns of 1 season wonders and turning it into a viable national brand, nor for getting some genuinely good SF and fantasy on American television despite the formidble obstacles to doing so. She gets blamed for eveything bad about the channel and zero credit for the good, and it never seems to cross anyone's mind that things that have been donely badly under her stewardship might have been done much worse under someone else. Or that she has to answer to corporate superiors and doesn't make all the decisions herself. Finally she gets beat up pretty good for something she never said: "There aren't going to be any space ships and ray-guns on Sci-Fi." What she actually said, vis a vis her desire to expand the channel's audience beyond the built-in "13 through 30 year old adolescent male living with his parents" demographic, was that she wanted to communicate the fact that sci-fi is more than just "space ships and ray guns". That hasn't stopped people from "quoting" the made-up version. It fits much better with their "Blame Bonnie for everything" mind-set, so why bother mucking that up with facts?

            Anyway, given the ownership issue, Rangers was never going to be a series with any rating it could reasonably been expected to draw, football or no football.

            As for those ratings: Day-to-day national ratings are indeed taken from electronic devices connected to a TV set, but not some secretive thing spying on us. In the U.S. A. C. Nielsen and Company attach ratings boxes or "people meters" to TV sets in demographically-weighted households in the top TV markets and selected other areas. (The basic boxes detect what channel a TV set is tuned to and some allow people to enter a code when to indicate how many people are watching. People meters provide wireless remote controls for each member of the household and extra units for guests and track enters and leaves a room where a set is on to more accurately reflect viewing patterns.)

            Four times a year (February, May, July and November) a weighted sampling of vieiwing households in all TV markets are sent paper diaries in which they record their TV viewing for all or part of a "sweeps" period. Ratings from sweeps are used to set local TV advertising rates for the next three months, so advertisers as well as TV networks and stations subscribe to the Neilsen service. (National networks get daily ratings and aren't directly affected by sweeps, but their local affiliates are, so the networks tend to air new episodes of regular series, specials and "stunt" programming to attract better ratings and help the affiliates. Cable channels like Sci-Fi aren't affected by sweeps since they don't have local affiliates. As a result they tend to "counter-program" and launch the new seasons of their shows during non-sweeps periods when the broadcast channels are in reruns.) The May and November sweeps are by far the most important, since overall TV viewership tends to be slightly lower in February and significantly lower in July.

            As a rule only summary ratings information is released to the general public, and that with the consent of the subscribers. Detailed quarter hour information and demographic data (who is watching in terms of age, ethnicity, income, geographical location, sex, etc.) is considered proprietary and is usually closely held. You can easily see how demographics might be more important than raw ratings numbers in determining where an advertisers places a given commercial. If I'm selling beer, golf clubs or deodorant for men, I'm better off placing my ad on a Sunday afternoon golf match watched by 10 million people 98% of whom are men than I am placing it on a soap opera or daytime talk show watched by 20 million people 98% of whom are women. This is one reason you don't see a lot of pantyhose advertised during NFL games.

            TiVO also collects viewing and use information from some subscribers on a voluntary basis and provides this to advertisers and other ratings consumers trying to come to grips with time-shifting and commercial-skipping. I'm not sure if satellite services like DirecTV and DishNetwork, which offer their own DVRs, do something similar. DVRs are not in enough American homes to make the TiVO data any kind of alternative to Nielsen ratings, but it may be used by some advertisers, networks and individual channels to supplement and contextualize some of the Nielsen numbers.

            Regards,

            Joe
            Last edited by Joseph DeMartino; 12-25-2006, 07:30 PM.
            Joseph DeMartino
            Sigh Corps
            Pat Tallman Division

            Comment


            • #7
              wow!
              I gotta say joe,
              Seriously comprehensive anwer.
              Phaze
              on the "thanking Joe for levels of detail" ID
              "There are no good wars. War is always the worst possible way to resolve differences. It degenerates and corrupts both sides to ever more sordid levels of existence, in their need to gain an advantage over the enemy. Those actively involved in combat are almost always damaged goods for the rest of their lives. If their bodies don't bear scars, their minds do, ofttimes both. Many have said it before, but it can't be said to enough, war is hell. "

              Comment


              • #8
                BTW, one of the reasons SFC was interested in a B5 spin-off is that they saw the ratings and demographics that Babylon 5 itself got on "their air." They concluded that a space-based military-politico story with strong characters and a strong continuing storyline could attract the most desirable male and female demographics, pulling in men and boys with the spaceships, explosions and military ethos and women and girls with the character stuff and the on-going storylines. (Hey, these are the way the groups tend to break down, broadly speaking. Nobdoy is suggesting that men don't also like on-going stories and character development or that women don't enjoy watching stuff get blowed up real good.)

                Rangers didn't work out for them. What did they end up with a short time later? Battlestar Galactica - a space-based, politico-military story with a strong story arc and a focust on characters. Produced and developed by the guy who oversaw the most B5-like run of episodes on Deep Space 9. Coincidence? I don't think so.

                Why did BSG fly when Rangers didn't? Universal, which owns USA Networks, which owns The Sci-Fi Channel, also owned BGS.

                Sci-Fi virtually ended up with the same show they wanted Rangers to be, also based on an existing property with a built-in fanbase who could be counted on to at least check it out, only this time it also has its piece of the action as parent Universal shares the overseas, home video and other ancillary revenue the show generates.

                BSG's ratings have also been in the "respectable for basic cable but nothing to write home about' range ever since its pilot, which is further proof that it wasn't ratings alone that killed the Rangers series. I think the cumulative Rangers pilot ratings might actually have been a bit higher than the numbers the BSG introductory "mini-series" drew on Sci-Fi, and both sets of number exceeded the week-to-week average rating for BSG, which has been somewhere around 1.8. (I think the two pilots were in the low to mid 3s, by contrast.)

                Regards,

                Joe
                Joseph DeMartino
                Sigh Corps
                Pat Tallman Division

                Comment


                • #9
                  This is also one of the main reasons scifi WON the bidding war to show Doctor Who (it almost ended up on fox if i recall correctly) and why they have been going nuts tracking down all the various little market stations that hae the rights to the classic series, can't wait for that to be ironed out and get all of DW on sci fi

                  oh and the fact that its MGM that owns start gate is one of the reasons its not getting an 11th season while atlantis which scifi does own part of is already in talks for a 5th season

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Joseph DeMartino
                    The ratings had nothing to do with it, poor, maligned Bonnie Hammer had nothing to do with it and football had nothing to do with it.

                    Briefly: In the old model of TV production a network or cable station would pay a fixed per episode license fee to a Hollywood studio to produce a series. If the cost of each episode exceeded the license fee, that was the studio's tough luck. They would have to produce the series at a loss until they had assembled about 100 episodes (about 5 season's worth) which was considered the minimum needed for syndicated reruns. The network would collect all the ad revenue generated by the show during its run, but the studio would get all the money generated by overseas sales, syndicated reruns, merchandising (books, toys, Happy Meals) and film or other adaptations.

                    As production costs rose, and restrictions on network owernship of television programs and studio ownership of TV stations and networks (relices of anti-trust decisions from the 50s) were relaxed, things began to change. A new model emerged in which the studios and networks/cable channels (often owned by the same corporate parent) shared both cost and ownership. (Which is one reason why reruns of Heroes have turned up on both The Sci-Fi Channel and USA Network - both owned by NBC/Universal and why new episodes of the Law & Order shows get a second airing on USA the week after they debut on NBC.)

                    Sci-Fi and Warner Bros. are not corporate siblings, but there was still pressure from Universal to make sure that Sci-Fi owned a piece of any original series it put on the air. Warner Bros. was unwilling to sell SFC a piece of a possible Rangers series. Result: Stalemate. (This is why neither party was willing to come up with the extra cash whem JMS realized his original weapons system concept was going to cost more than budgeted, and why the cast went to work on the pilot without having signed contracts or at least options for the series in addition to the movie itself - which would have been the normal procedure.)
                    Wait a minute. Aren't you getting this mixed up with why The Sci-Fi Channel didn't go for a continuation of Crusade? Wasn't the reason Sci-Fi went for the Rangers pilot that Warner Brothers would let them own a piece of the Rangers series?
                    Mac Breck (KoshN)
                    ------------------
                    Warner Brothers is Lucy.
                    JMS and we fans are collectively Charlie Brown.
                    Babylon 5 is the football.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      This is what JMS said about the SciFi Channel/Rangers situation:
                      From: [email protected] (Jms at B5)
                      Subject: Re: JMS: Questions abour Sci-Fi channel
                      To: rec.arts.sf.tv.babylon5.moderated
                      Date: 9/9/2002 4:37:00 PM

                      >So shouldn't the studio that owns a show be giving Sci-Fi a better deal to
                      >offset that, and get a studio's show on the air? That way, everybody can
                      >win.

                      That's the logical thing, but logic and show business rarely dine at the same
                      table.

                      Most studios would rather own 100% of nothing than 50% of something. That
                      sounds outrageous, but it's all a part of that all-or-nothing profit thing that
                      they ALL have going. And they're all in competition with one another.

                      This came into play on the Rangers situation, where WB was reluctant to let SFC
                      own a part of the show, since SFC is owned by Universal Vivendi, and WB is in
                      competition with Universal.

                      So it's a real balancing act. If Rangers had gotten a higher rating (had it
                      not been killed on the East Coast by the biggest football playoff in the last
                      decade), even though it was owned by WB, they would almost certainly have
                      committed to a series, since that rating would balance out not owning the
                      show...on the flip side, had Rangers been owned by SFC/Universal, and gotten
                      the same rating that it actually got, they would've been able to say "Okay, let
                      it grow, because we own it and we're willing to take the risk and we're losing
                      less money in license fees since we're paying them to ourselves in any event
                      and we can get the merchandising revenues," which only the studio gets.

                      Studio logic is kind of like looking at the gorgon...too close and you're
                      turned to stone.

                      jms

                      ([email protected])
                      (all message content (c) 2002 by synthetic worlds, ltd.,
                      permission to reprint specifically denied to SFX Magazine
                      and don't send me story ideas)
                      "As empathy spreads, civilization spreads. As empathy contracts, civilization contracts...as we're seeing now.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        I still say it's Bonnie Hammer who killed it, the same way she killed SG1.
                        "Jan Schroeder is insane" - J. Michael Straczynski, March 2008

                        The Station: A Babylon 5 Podcast

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          I still say it's Bonnie Hammer who killed it
                          Right. No point in letting the facts get in the way of a good irrational hatred. We know, because JMS has said as much, that the problem was an ownership tussle and that WB was at least as much to blame as Sci-Fi and Universal, but let's all keep blaming it on an innocent third party. That's rational.

                          ...the same way she killed SG1.
                          Oh, great. Another fanboy fantasy being stated as "fact".

                          Reality check: Neither Bonnie Hammer nor any other individual "killed" SG1. What "killed" the series was the same thing that "killed" ST:TNG and DS9 - after "x" number of years of everybody getting either automatic or negotiated raises the show became too expensive to produce. Therefore the concept was economically repackaged in a "new" series. Thus TNG begat DS9 which begat Voyager and SG1 begat SG: Atlantis. MGM could have kept SG1 alive by paying the extra cost itself while charging Sci-Fi the same old license fee, but it chose not to. Why isn't everybody bitching out the head of the studio? Oh, nobody knows the name of that person, and whoever it is hasn't already been turned into an all-purpose whipping boy by fans who refuse to believe the some things aren't personal and are simply business decisions. (Fans, I might add, who probably never had to meet a payroll or answer to stockholders or a board of directors.)

                          Regards,

                          Joe
                          Joseph DeMartino
                          Sigh Corps
                          Pat Tallman Division

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Joseph DeMartino
                            let's all keep blaming it on an innocent third party.
                            Bonnie Hammer? "Innocent third party" ... My goodness, you really don't know what you're talking about, do you?

                            Reality check: Neither Bonnie Hammer nor any other individual "killed" SG1. What "killed" the series was the same thing that "killed" ST:TNG and DS9 - after "x" number of years of everybody getting either automatic or negotiated raises the show became too expensive to produce.
                            As long as we're throwing out "reality checks" here, let's go for reality when talking about TNG. What killed it? Berman. For every episode of ST:TNG, which was created by Roddenberry, he or his estate was paid a fee. Berman, wanting more money like the greedy bastard he is, "created" DS9, with the "created" credit going to him and Mikey. As the series was not "created" by Gene, his estate got squat.

                            And let's not forget that they knew at the end of the sixth year that there would be only one more year, allowing each series to be wrapped up. StarGate was not given that opportunity.

                            But let's not let facts stand in your way.
                            "Jan Schroeder is insane" - J. Michael Straczynski, March 2008

                            The Station: A Babylon 5 Podcast

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Jan
                              This is what JMS said about the SciFi Channel/Rangers situation:
                              I suppose I should be because that was my question and JMS's reply.

                              I was remembering one where I asked JMS why Sci-Fi went with the Legend of the Rangers idea instead of continuing the Crusade storyline. The reason was that Warner Brothers would not let them own a piece of Crusade.

                              BTW, damned if I can find that post, now! I've been searching for over an hour.
                              Mac Breck (KoshN)
                              ------------------
                              Warner Brothers is Lucy.
                              JMS and we fans are collectively Charlie Brown.
                              Babylon 5 is the football.

                              Comment

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