numbers are not what they used to be

The television event is dead.

After ABC heavily promoted it as the television event of the decade, the final episode of LOST on Sunday night was seen by about 13.6 million viewers. To put that in perspective, the final episode of Mr. Belvedere in 1990 had 13.8 million viewers.

While I suppose it would be an interesting treatise to compare/contrast the relationships of Jack / Locke / Sawyer to Belvedere / George / Wesley, that’s not the point.

Sure. LOST is probably an odd choice to be using as an example of the decline of the TV event as this last season had lost its sizzle. In addition, it was difficult for the masses to be real fans of the show because it took effort to follow it. And as it turns out, the core fans were victims of a long con by Damon Lindelof , Carlton Cuse and JJ Abrams.

If you haven’t done so already, you need to rethink the concept of audience and what numbers really mean. (but not these numbers 4-8-15-16-23-42)

The audience is smaller, but that audience has been distilled down to a more pure verson of a targeted market. It’s not just about measuring eyeballs. It’s about measuring engagement.

You have to look beyond the actual show to see value. There was a massive amount of social media buzz surrounding the show. (before, during, and after) The finale overtook both the U.S. and international trending topics on Twitter Sunday night. In the week leading up the finale, it dominated entertainment outlets (both online and traditional). No recent TV show has had as much discussion and speculation as this one in recent history. 

Even with light audience numbers, advertisers paid a premium price for placements in the finale. And those advertisers paid special attention to their creative placements. Verizon sponsored messages from the show’s fans. I thought Target had some great ads that were really tuned to the media buy. (My favorites were the smoke and keyboard ones.)

Overall, the LOST finale was a good example of a mass media outlet being used to reach a niche audience. If big media is to survive, it’s something that will have to happen more.