Population Statistic: Read. React. Repeat.
Monday, September 19, 2021

I’ve had an inkling that this coming Fall television season — kicking off right now, actually — promised a higher-than-average number of shows with actual potential to not suck. Just from my limited exposure, these stand out in my mind:

- “How I Met Your Mother”

- “My Name is Earl”

- “The Boondocks”

Now I know why I, who haven’t watched any regularly-scheduled television series in years, am feeling this buzz: The networks are getting creative with their under-the-radar promotional techniques, targeting TV freaks and other influential demographics.

It’s producing a lot of neat-o tchotchkes, anyway:

So for “Supernatural,” its new Tuesday night suspense thriller, the network — which is owned by Time Warner Inc. and Tribune Co. (which publishes the Los Angeles Times) — has gone beyond mere promotional ads. To reach the show’s intended audience — young, hip horror fans — the WB installed special mirrors in about 200 nightclubs in three cities. The mirrors displayed a haunting image from the show’s pilot: a terrified woman seemingly pinned to a ceiling.

The idea was simple, said the WB’s other marketing president, Bob Bibb: to get people talking.

“Our best chance of success is getting the core group hooked up from the very beginning,” said Bibb, who also sent “Supernatural” coffee cup sleeves to nearly 500 cafes around the country. When heated, the sleeves revealed the same spooky image of a floating woman.

All this marketing bling ain’t cheap:

This year, the networks together have spent more on marketing than ever before: $200 million, by some estimates.

In part, that expenditure is prompted by the fact that the networks are locked in a tighter-than-usual ratings race. In contrast to years past, when NBC was the undisputed leader, less than one ratings point separated the Big Four networks last season among the coveted 18- to 49-year-old demographic. As a result, the fight to pull ahead has gotten even more intense.

The battle to reach more eyeballs has also grown desperate as many people have left TV behind. This summer, network ratings plunged as millions turned to other entertainment options, including the Internet, video games and movies on DVD.

Stuart Fischoff, a media psychologist at Cal State L.A., said the decline in viewership meant the networks needed to be more creative. “What they have been doing hasn’t been working,” he said. “They are trying to staunch the hemorrhage.”

I can’t say that any of this jazz is going to actually make me, personally, make time to watch any of this stuff (and no, I don’t have a DVR, and even if I did, I wouldn’t bloc out time for hours of programming). But not everyone is as media-resistant as me. I have a feeling this is going to be a big rebound year for the boob-tubers.

by Costa Tsiokos, Mon 09/19/2005 11:49pm
Category: Advert./Mktg., TV
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Yes, it’s been a robusto hurricane year. So much so that, as Rita signifies, the National Hurricane Center has only four more alphabetical Atlantic storm names left to assign, after which it will have to switch from Roman to Greek letters for the remaining two months.

Frank Lepore, public affairs officer for the National Hurricane Center in Miami, says this year could be the first time the entire list of 21 names is used up.

If that happens, the center will switch to the Greek alphabet, calling storms Alpha, Beta, Gamma, Delta and so on. (Let’s hope they never get that far.)

If there ends up being 100 storms between now and November, and you lose track, feel free to ask me what the next Greek-lettered storm will be. But I’m only good through Tau; I never could learn the whole thing in Greek…

So why 21 regular names, when the English alphabet has 26 letters?

The alphabetical lists have 21 names; the letters Q, U, X, Y and Z are omitted (tough to come up with many “X” names). Six lists are used in rotation, so names reappear every seventh year…

The rest of this year’s Atlantic roster - Stan, Tammy, Vince and Wilma - may sound more like a bowling team than a quartet of storms. But until a few weeks ago, Katrina didn’t sound very threatening either.

Actually, the notion of having to name an atmospheric occurrence is a quirky human compulsion. It’s an attempt to personify and humanize something that’s otherwise not easily relatable. Indeed, the act of labeling, or really defining, in this way confers a perception of power to the namer. Brings to mind Ursula LeGuin’s “She Unnames Them”, a short story that frames this sort of thing as a masculine trait; I’d argue it’s gender-blind.

by Costa Tsiokos, Mon 09/19/2005 10:51pm
Category: Society, Weather
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If I should ever relocate to New York, I’ll have to start up a blog devoted to subway stories. Then, I can recount an impromptu Michael Jackson-soundalike performance on the West 4th-bound train.

I’d like to think the song performed that night was “Ben”. Seems to fit the scenario.

I’d refrain from mentioning “The Tracy Ullman Show”, though. I hated that show.

by Costa Tsiokos, Mon 09/19/2005 10:12pm
Category: New Yorkin'
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Eric Deggans recently has been annointed St. Petersburg Times Media Critic. That title runs underneath his byline in the printed newspaper.

But it seems no one bothered to tell the Times’ website because Deggans’ online pieces erroneously identify him as an Op/Ed Columnist, which was his previous position. Obviously, the Times’ Web Publishing team need to update that article template.

Then again, maybe Deggans should take the online hint and ditch that rather vanilla-sounding tag. If it were me, I’d go with “Media Assassin”!

by Costa Tsiokos, Mon 09/19/2005 09:35pm
Category: Pop Culture, Publishing
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