The first season of “Arrested Development” was listed in Time magazine’s “100 Best TV Show of All Time” but was only the 120th most popular show according to Nielsen rating system.
Seven years later the filming crew is coming back with the fourth season of the show. New episodes will be aired on Netflix in May 2013. Fox cut the third season from 22 to 13 episodes because of poor viewership numbers, but people’s desire to see more of their favorite characters is bringing the show back.
Ryan Nimtz is a BYU student majoring in illustration. Most of his time he spends at school, and he doesn’t have much time to watch TV shows. “Arrested Development” is one of the few shows he doesn’t mind spending time watching.
“It’s really brilliantly written,” Nimtz said. “It juxtaposes really interesting character types, like Tobias being married to Lindsay. It is one of those shows where they put a really interesting twist on the ridiculous things that happen in show.”
People may wonder why the show was canceled if it was, and is, so popular. The Nielsen rating system may be the answer to that
question. TV companies use this system to measure their television audience to determine the popularity and demand of the show. But the system that has its origins in the 1930s became outdated with the introduction of online and mobile consumption.
“Arrested Development” is not the only show that gained love and popularity and still got prematurely canceled. “Community” is another show that was a ratings disaster. The third season aired in May 2012, after which the production was dropped because of the low viewership numbers.
Anthony Jones, a BYU student from West Plains, Mo., is an example of a fan who uses a new way of watching his favorite TV shows that Nielsen ratings don’t account for. He watched all the episodes on DVD after his brother recommended the shows to him.
Levi Pratt, an exercise and wellness major, watched all the seasons of “Community” on Hulu Plus last spring.
“I was hooked,” Pratt said. “I love the interesting combination of characters in the show; they are so random sometimes and yet still believable enough. It is exciting to see what they will do next.”
Fans of “Chuck” proved that ratings cannot stop their favorite show. When NBC stopped airing the show after the second season because of dropping number of viewership, fans organized a campaign called “Save Our Chuck.” It first started with letters and petitions, until one of the fans was inspired by Subway’s product placement in the show and organized a campaign to purchase “Footlong” sandwiches from Subway. It helped. The campaign gained momentum and resulted in extensive media coverage and NBC’s final decision to renew the show.
Like “Arrested Development,” “Community” performed poorly in Nielsen ratings but nevertheless got another chance for life. The fourth season was delayed for several months and finally returned to the small screen on Feb. 7.
Steve Levitan, the executive producer of “Modern Family,” told “Hollywood Reporter” during a panel in Montreal that the way companies measure television audiences is out of touch with reality. They are not taking into account people who watch shows online, on mobile devices or through on-demand programs. Levitan’s point is that if a show caters to the technologically-sophisticated audience that uses computers, laptops, mobile devices and other technology to watch their favorite shows, Nielsen ratings don’t do any justice to the quality of the show, because they only take actual television sets into account.