The Big Money makes an interesting if obvious point this week about “save our show” campaigns: they don’t work. When word spread that a show (particularly one with a cult following) is on the chopping the block fans take to the online streets, blogging and circulating petitions to encourage network execs to keep their program alive. But as recent examples Firefly and Arrested Development prove, these campaigns fail. Miserably. In fact, I can’t think of a single example of them working. The closest would be Family Guy, which famously rose to the dead as a result of DVD sales…but that’s not really the same thing as blogging.

The reason is simple. Television execs make decisions based on the Nielsen Ratings, so unless you have one of those boxes plugged into your TV, CBS have a clue what you want to watch. Rounding up friends and convincing them to watch Dollhouse won’t make a difference. But there is hope. As with everything else, the internet is the solution:

The alternative is to drive people where they can actually be counted—and these days that’s online. The Internet offers metrics everywhere you turn. The networks can analyze the number of streams, number of ad impressions, number of page views, number of visits, number of visitors, number of comments, etc. It’s a democratic space where the eyes and participation of fans can actually be seen by the network bosses making the decisions. Unlike with analog TV, online fans can actually speak directly to power. So whether it’s through iTunes, Hulu, or one of the networks’ proprietary streams, the smart way to campaign for a show’s renewal is to stream it after the fact.

This makes sense, and it’s better anyway. I don’t really get why I even pay for cable anymore. And DVR’s…what’s the point?

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