I'm really proud to share this one.  Sablegreen has been working on this for a while and has done some most excellent research into pursuing a theory about Supernatural's appeal in today's down economy and whether it might have an impact on ratings.  Since I seem to be an avid follower of TV ratings and the whole system, this certainly sparked my interest.  There are several interesting points here that I've never considered before.  We are both very curious to see what your thoughts are on this one.  It's a topic of discussion this site has never taken on before and I'm thrilled to see it. 

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With the current hellatus, it’s time to look back at what’s happened, where we were, and where we are. Ratings have been a big issue the first half of season five. No matter what the season for a series, whether they are up for renewal of season two or season six, ratings are important. The ratings for Supernatural have been slowly declining. Why? In my opinion, for a show this good, it really doesn’t track.   Many aspects affect ratings of any show. Various factors have been but forth for Supernatural ratings, including time slot, the small CW network, the myth arc of the series and the lack of advertising. 

All are factors, but the bottom line is people will watch what entertains them, and what entertains people, in a large part, is affected by economic conditions.    Myth arc or no, if they like the series they will rent the past seasons to catch up. I would, and have, and people are using their TVs now more than ever. As advertisers want to know where to best put their advertising dollars, a lot of information was available on consumer practices. These also give an insight into what people like to watch.

History shows that each time economies really start to struggle (in a recession or depression) a pattern of consumer behavior emerges. Yes, people cut back and reduce their spending significantly, but one area of consumer spending that does not suffer, and sometimes increases during a recession, is entertainment. According to the New York Times Tuesday, November 24, 2009, and I quote:  “Despite sagging home sales, rising unemployment and record-high gas prices, the number of TVs shipped to retailers in the United States and Canada jumped 26 percent compared with the first quarter of this year, and 28 percent year over year, to a total of 9.3 million units.”
 
Staying into watch movies and shows on TV is much more economical, and many families consider their TVs to be a necessity, not a luxury. In financially stressed times, people spend more on products that deliver enjoyment rather than utility. â€œWhen people can no longer afford a vacation or a trip to the movies, TV has always been that last resort,” said Robert J. Thompson, a professor of media and popular culture at Syracuse University. So, that means there is a very large viewer audience out there wanting to be entertained by their TVs. So what do they watch?
 
No one will argue that the television industry is experiencing a change. Now with cable, so many viewing opportunities are out there, that the competition for a marketplace has been slowly changing and shrinking the business.  That, plus the onset of digital media, has cause the industry to experience a dramatic upheaval.  Forecasting how this will affect the current recession is hard to say because many of these viewing alternatives like cable channels, digital video recorders, mail-order movie services and video downloads were not widely available during past recessions, including the most recent downturn in 2001.
 
Nielsen ratings indicate consumers are attracted to different genres of TV programs based on economical class. They divide the audience into eight classes for marketing purposes.  Two groups include people who are not affected by the recession…the “Recession Indifferent” and “Recession Insensitive”. These groups are interested primarily in Sports, News, Comedy and Quiz shows. For advertisers who are trying to sell products, they are interested in the classes that have money to spend, so they going to invest in these. This leaves Supernatural out, as it is billed as a show for the middle class which is the hardest hit in the recession, and the middle class comprises the other six groups in the Neilson ratings. However, these six groups contain the majority of the viewing audience, and as the recession deepens, this audience size is growing. These groups do have dollars to spend, but they are just going to be more cautious how they spend them. So how do advertisers decide how to reach the more financially stress? Besides using rating indexes, they look at trends of audience viewing during previous recessions. 
 
Tim Brooks, an author of “The Complete Directory to Prime Time Network and Cable TV Shows,” said there has historically been a relationship between the mood of the country and the type of shows that are popular. Amid the mid-1970s oil crisis recession, shows that depicted previous generations, tradition, strong family bonds and old-fashioned values, such as the Walton’s and Happy Day’s were popular.  Any show epitomizing these traits should appeal to the middle class regardless of the genre.
 
Since the beginning of 2008, the dominant kinds of programming have shifted from gritty crime shows to reality shows that are in many cases very escapist, and escapism is what sells in a recession. And reality shows are much cheaper to produce than scripted shows. These include feel-good shows like American Idol, and Dancing with the Stars. However, these feel-good experiences can be seen in other genre.   And it's not like everything has to be light hearted – remember the movie Taken! But while Taken may not say life is easy, strong-dad thrillers go down easy; offering a form of escapism all their own. 
 
So what other genre offer stress releasing effects to the crumbling middle class? Basically any Fantasy, Thriller, Prime-Time Drama, Suspense, Mystery, Humorous, Macabre, Creepy, Spellbinding, and Adult Situations shows you can find.   All of which has been used to describe Supernatural. For the record, is also been labeled as a Chase/Road Show, with themes of Missing Persons, and Sibling Relationships with strong family ties. Hal Erickson called it “essentially a male version of Buffy the Vampire Slayer with a few dashes of Scooby-Doo, The Hardy Boys and Route 66 tossed in.” (As a die-hard Supernatural fan, I object to the Scooby-Doo reference....but to each his own.) Anyway, as more and more people are living with sadness and despair, any TV or movie that offers a promise of hope, happiness, a fresh start, or new beginning has a lot of appeal. All of these are versions of escapism shows. The ultimate in escapism genre, and, thus one of the top-selling forms of entertainment, is horror. 
 
Before I diverge into the appeal of the horror genre, which I feel is important to Supernatural‘s ratings, I have to talk about escapism and it’s affect on people. There are many opponents of escapism, and those that feel it is important for humans to experience and live in reality, facing the consequences of life as they develop. There are also many proponents of escapism. Fantasy writers propose their fantastic universes in ways that promote creative thinking and problem solving. Escapism can help people more ably interact within reality and cope with some of the stresses of  life…and the greater the stress, the more people need relief from it, if only for a short time. When people are generally sad or depressed, focusing on happier times or brighter things is a form of escapism that offers a healthy alternative to a rather bleak reality. This form of escapism can be healthy when it allows the person to realign themselves and approach reality with a more positive outlook.
 
For years, science fiction programs have let people escape, and envision other worlds and what life might be within other realities. This has led to many discoveries within our own universe, and has enhanced reality of our world. Escapism can open doors and surpass sciences in many ways, and escapism that is based on individual creativity can be very important in terms of personality development and mental capacity.  And, in case any one is interested, the ultimate individual of escapism is Batman. In many ways, he is a more escapist figure than Superman, because he is just plain mortal like us, but his amazing training and intelligence turns him into an unstoppable force. His ‘power’ comes from a life time of hard work. The writers picked the right hero for Dean to identify with in ‘Bad Day at Black Rock’. 
 
As for horror genre…there are numerous reasons why that genre is so appealing as an escapism venue, ranging from tension, relevance, and unrealism… to ‘ striping us down to our essence’. The high quality, well-constructed, well-acted, and well-directed horror that leaves the audience spellbound, sitting on the edge of their seats, wanting the whole time to ‘close their eyes but knowing they don’t dare’ targets all generations and age groups which encompass the whole middle class. These intellectually structured horror shows explore relationships between humans, and between the natural and the supernatural. They tap into our fears of the dark, the unknown, the bazaar, the Devil, mortality, and simply being ignored. They frighten us with loss of control, and shock us with the realization that we never really had control to begin with. By doing so, they ‘reveal just a little bit more about us to us’….a good way to forget our problems. It also spans all genders, even though many devotees of horror are women, the targeted audience of relationship dramas.
 
From a purely evolutionary standpoint, avoiding dark places, attempting to understand the unknown, and finding ways to postpone death have survival value that may have been passed onto future generations through an evolutionary process. According to many psychoanalytic thinkers, universal fears make a horror genre more relevant. The fact is horror appeals to one of our most primal emotions - fear. Many feel the creep-factor is inherent within the human psyche, the opposite of our feelings of safety and comfort. The scary, and the macabre, have and will exist in horror as long as we have the ability to imagine it. And as long as the imagination can be tapped, we can and will forget reality for a while,. 
 
The last part of exploring Supernatural appeal has to include a discussion of the human psyche.
 
It's human nature to have empathy. That is, no matter what the circumstances are, we always feel the pain of others around us, whether in entertainment or in real life. As much as people want to see their experiences mirrored in entertainment, they also want to forget them. Some people feel a little bit of Schadenfreude is also involved, where people feel better about their lives while observing characters that have it worse than they do. People also like to indulge in a ‘Superman complex’ - that is, tapping their own inner hero by watching the onscreen valor of others. Loss of control in their daily lives is a large part of the despair in a recession. To see others with the ability to change their condition, especially using superpowers is a big draw in shows. Hummmm….where are Sam’s powers when you need them? I would have loved to used his powers to exorcize the demon I am SURE resides in my PI.
 
In addition, in a financially stressed economy, the first thing to suffer is the family unit. Most sociologists will tell you that the harder the economic times, the more domestic abuse, child abuse, alcoholism, and drug addiction will increase. Hence, strong family bonds sell well in recessions.  Stories of second chances and new beginnings are also particularly powerful in hard times.   
 
So how does all this apply to Supernatural? Is there a correlation between the economy and the drop in Supernatural viewers this year?
 
Yeah…I think there is. For me, the shows has the appeal of an A-one, high class horror escapism show dealing with superheroes, and that‘s what the boys are whether that’s the your name for them or not. The appeal of a common person rising above the impossible to defeat all odds will be a hit in any recession or depression. Their bond of strong family ties and family devotion, lost in season four and the first few episodes of season five, has been glimpsed on the horizon as returning…a good factor for a recession show. The return of Sammy’s powers wouldn’t hurt either.
 
Charlie Jane Anders author of “Escapism Is The Highest Form Of Art” said “….our most escapist works currently seem to fall neatly into three categories: superheroes, vampires and post-apocalyptic survivors. All of whom share a few categories that seem emblematic of our times: they're individualistic, they're special, and they're often at odds with a world that doesn't understand how special and great they are. In other words, they're the perfect heroes for a time when we're no longer involved in a colossal struggle like the Cold War, but instead are facing a crumbling middle class.” These are the shows that are most appealing and describe Supernatural to a tee. (On a side note: Hopefully we will not the boys as post-apocalyptic survivors in season six.)
 
Based on this information, and additional info I read from the web, I feel if the show was premiering in this economy with the episodes of seasons one, they would be an immediate hit, much like The Vampires Diaries are this year , and as they were in 2005. However, as the show progress into season four and five, so did the downward trend of the economy. As more and more families began to be affected, their appeal for a show that also hit darker times would have dwindled. If people want to see those worse off then themselves, the darker side of the series would have appealed to a much smaller group than when the show premiered. And I find it hard to believe that those families who did experience the darker side of life, would want to watch a show that would mirror their real lives on a weekly bases….especially lives that they would prefer to forget. If the series hoped to appeal to the “Recession Indifferent” and “Recession Insensitive” classes, those classes are said to watch different genre of shows completely, and they are also dwindling in numbers. 
 
It was, and still is, on a small network that found relationship horror shows directed at young aged women worked well. However, there is a much bigger audience available, and while the CW wants to target the young group, I think the Supernatural series would benefit from not limiting its scope. With the advent of science, people are living longer and the older generation is becoming a very large group. It also comprises a large part of the middle class, and they value culture and tradition.   Acknowledging women viewers older than the CW's audience could only help, and while I don’t know how the networks interact with their series, any show that increases is viewer audience should appeal to a network. 
 
There is a lot of information on these topics, and I’m sure I didn’t see it all. What research I did find, I tried to compile in this article, but everything here is open to different views and interpretations and while I tried to be unbiased, as a human, that is not going to happen.   I would love to hear your views  about the economy, and your personal experiences with what people like to watch.  
 
Current ratings of Supernatural (overall and in 18-49) still have it as the second best show on CW with a very good possibility of renewal for a season six. With the rise of the boys family bond, and all the good friends they are acquiring for their army, hopefully that will be a positive indication of an increase  in ratings in the future. Hope, happiness, prosperity and friends seems to sell in a recession.  Here’s hoping for the best in the rest of season five, and a very prosperous season six.

Comments  

Faellie
# Faellie 2009-12-07 02:24
Wow, Sablegreen, there's a whole lot of stuff there I know nothing about. Fascinating.

The interests you cite for the "recession indifferent" and "recession insensitive" categories - sport, news, comedy - sound a bit male to me. Generally women and minorities are poorer to start with, so a recession makes things even harder for them. I wonder whether the gender balance has been changing at all in the viewing stats.

As to Show itself, something I've noticed this season is that only one episode, The Real Ghostbusters, has had anything other than a pretty downbeat ending. Even a fun episode like Changing Channels, in which nobody died who wasn't a construct of the Trickster's imagination, had a less than cheerful ending. As you say, hope sells. If someone is a casual watcher from week to week and doesn't have the whole five-season mytharc at the front of their minds, the ending of the week's episode could be a strong influencing factor in whether they tune in for the following week.

If the season as a whole comes out with a reasonably happy ending, that might help the DVD sales, and reruns. Or we hope for a better economy to kick in!

Thank you for this article.
Jasminka
# Jasminka 2009-12-07 05:59
Hi Sablegreen, what an interesting piece! Great way to get over my lunch break with feeding my mind…
Unfortunately, viewers like me who watch the show online (hey, European networks have been treating us in the most novercal manner) don’t affect the ratings much, and it would probably be helpful if we were able to improve ratings, as we seem to be quite a bunch. There hasn’t been done much for advertising, and here in Germany the show’s fourth season is currently aired by a pay-cable network hardly anyone I know has access to (I don’t). Bummer.
The network that aired Supernatural in the beginning (accessible by all kinds of cable contracts) has done a terrible job – low advertising, mixed-up episodes, wanting synchronisation , and then taking it off the air without any plan to continue.
I agree that in times of economical stress people try to escape and forget their troubles for an hour at least, and over here reality tv-shows of people starting a new life overseas are thriving. The government has tried to do a lot for the strugging economy, e.g. granting a so called ‘environmenta l premium’ for everyone who bought a new car and scrapped the old one. Thereby the automobile industry got incredible numbers despite the recession. But the pot is empty now, so I’m expecting another downfall some time soon, and some huge factories already are closing.
And now with Christmas approaching people are spending a huge sum on media, mostly tvs and dvd-players/rec orders.
Just as a new car might be a means to escape the struggles of life, so does a tv-show, as it is less expensive than watching a movie – if a family wants to go to the movies, they need a lot of money: I just paid 9 Euros for a ticket yesterday (that should be about 13 or 14 dollars, right?), plus a drink for 4 Euros, mathematics make that 13 €, and I didn’t even get popcorn (which I don’t like in general). Now, if a family consists of two adults and let’s say two kids, they’d pay 52€ for tickets and drinks, plus some snacks, and they’d easily pile up a sum of about 60 to 70 Euros (about a hundred US-dollars) for one movie.
Hardly any middle class family could afford that more than once a month (hell, I couldn’t), if at all. As much as I like to support the entertainment industry (I guess it’s still something I feel connected to after having been a part of it some time back), going to the movies has sometimes become a point of calculation and consideration.
Television is, as you wonderfully point out, affordable even to people on low pay. And their group is growing, as short time work and unemployment rates are not yet going significantly down.
I’ve had the first patients with missing teeth – they just can’t afford to have their teeth fixed. Now, personally, I’d rather sell my car than walk around with the odd missing tooth, but what if I had nothing to sell?
Depression rates are going up, as well. Especially around Christmas time, but also in general. People are afraid to call in sick (afraid to lose their jobs if they did), thereby working in a reduced and worn out state, which results in psychological problems.
Unfortunately, when a person is depressed (within clinical standards) even the escapism of tv doesn’t reach them, as they are incapable of feeling the joy or the hope that might be provided by such a program. They need to get out of that state at least a little to be able to find strength or hope with the help of a show.
One patient I had recently, who had been watching Supernatural, but stopped doing so, summed it up like this: he wasn’t able to watch anymore how those beaten and shattered young men were able to overcome their difficulties and ordeals and move on, not giving up. He felt pressured to do it in the same manner (compared to their problems, his own seemed negligible to him – he thought so), but he also knew that he wasn’t able to do that. Realizing that resulted in a blow to his self-esteem, he felt even more like a failure, and he needed to stop watching the show in order to save himself from reproach and sliding into even deeper depression. Being without a job and failing in moving on (from his subjective point of view) served as poison to his psyche.
Now, this was only one person. But these thoughts might apply to other affected people. I don’t think that to be hugely responsible for drops in ratings, but it might be a part of it (this would require a nationwide study, of course).
I believe the resurfacing positive undercurrents of Supernatural will bring back viewers like him eventually, I hope so. If this will affect the ratings remains to be seen.
Could you name the books you took the quotes about the horror genre and ‘superman complex’ from? I’d love to read more about that, as this made me curious. Anyone who reads this will be aware of the amount of work you put into this endeavor.

Thanks, Sablegreen, for this fine work. Jas
Randal
# Randal 2009-12-07 06:32
The oldest and strongest emotion of mankind is fear, and the oldest and strongest kind of fear is fear of the unknown. - H.P. Lovecraft

That applies to the political realm as well, ahem, but this ain't the place for that. 8-)

Great, great stuff here and a lot to touch on. I think part of the problem with the declining ratings is that the show cannot simply be labeled 'horror' or 'superhero' or 'drama.' There's so much cross-polleniza tion and fusing of different genres. Something like The Vampire Diaries is far easier to market (nice if CW tried that hard over the years with Supernatural. Wankers) since there's an easily graspable male/female romantic dynamic. And Supernatural isn't just a 'buddy cop' style gig, it's more complex than the typical television show, which I think hurts its wider appeal.

You're far more capable of addressing these issues than I; all I've got is anecdotal evidence and inherent biases against garbage 'reality' shows (the only real reality show was Candid Camera, dammit) and other forms of 'escapist' entertainment. (is it escapist to us since we plumb its depths so much? Another question for another day!).

You touch on an excellent point, the network marketing the show to other demographic groups than the traditional one. There is much that would appeal to loves, hopes, desires, joys of said groups. There was something else that I wanted to say, but it vanished. Curse you, old age.

I agree about your point on the more recession, more happiness, but I wonder if there's a correlation between down economic times and horror as well, that Schadenfreude or if that's merely a general trend. (No, I don't know what Schadenfreude is, please tell me because I'm *dying* to know). C'mon, Simpsons fans, raise your hand.

Excellent article, Sablegreen.
Suze
# Suze 2009-12-07 07:23
Great artical ... Now we've got something else to blame the bankers for! :evil:

PS. Schadenfreude is bigwordese for " Phew, so glad that's not me " In Simpsons terms think Nelson. ;-)
Jasminka
# Jasminka 2009-12-07 08:56
Randal, I agree that the variety of the themes this show touches on makes if hard for Supernatural to find wider appeal. It just cannot be categorized, but herein lies its major attraction – you can watch it in need of a family drama, when you want to delve into the deep meaning of fellowship and being-there-for -each-other, you can love it for its blood-and-gore elements or for the comedy.

Perhaps you should invest in some German classes? ;-)
The translation of Schadenfreude could be gloating, spitefulness or simpy malicious joy…

at your service, Jas
Randal
# Randal 2009-12-07 11:33
The Simpsons comment was done in snark via a quote from the show itself, I know the word, just being rhetorical. "Dad, do you even know what rhetorical means?" "Do I know what rhetorical means!" Don't mind me, my kids don't. 8-)

All I remember from high school German is Ich gehe in die Stadt and wo ist meine Brieftasche. That's about it. Oh, those wacky black and white films from the 60s we watched. Unfortunately for Supernatural, what will help it stand the test of time is what hurts it during the present day. I'd wager that the largest percentage of an audience wants something simple, less complex. I think stuff like Lost is an anomaly. Look at most of the crap that IS on teevee, Hollywood contra "indie" (I hate that term) films.
Suze
# Suze 2009-12-07 14:32
See, get too adventurous with the quotes and we all get confused and start taking you seriously ... Keep it simple, sweetie! ( I didn't understand Lost either, which rather proves your point ... :lol: )
Jasminka
# Jasminka 2009-12-07 16:06
Nun, das ist ein Anfang, Süßer. Don’t worry Randal, I’ll shut up about that now. .. 8-)

I’m right there with you – I think we are watching the birth and growth of a classic here, one that will indeed be able to stand the test of time.
Supernatural’ s complexity surely does not appeal to a huge audience, but then again – what if more people were aware of this show, even those who care for ‘simpler’ matters, would they begin to watch it?
Some people probably don’t even give it a try anymore, as there is not really much on worth watching. Another reality show? ‘New York Goes To The Loo’? Oh, please, good heavens!

And people like me who don’t exactly have a lot of time to watch TV have to choose very carefully what to watch, if at all. I love to feel challenged by a story. I tried to follow Lost for a while, as the idea was appealing, but the characters did not capture my attention as much as Supernatural’ s characters have – not only the brothers, but everyone close to them. I love Bobby. I adore Mary. Almost everyone here touches me in ways I had not believed possible. This kind of compelling quality is a jewel…

And here we are again at the point of fan-obsession and the occasional sigh of 'I love this show' when starting out discussing economical aspects. Sorry, Sablegreen. Did we just kill your questions?

Love Jas
Sablegreen
# Sablegreen 2009-12-07 19:09
No Jas, you didn’t just kill my questions. And thanks for the response. Ditto for Faellie, Randal, and Suze. I really appreciate it.

Faellie when I first read about the "recession indifferent" and "recession insensitive" categories, I thought the same think you did...those genre are very male oriented. And horror seems to be more geared to females, except for the teenage audience. What does that say about the gender balance in the economy? Yes, the lack of a ‘happy ending’ is very apparent in the episodes this year. And gee, nothing is all bad! It just give a tone of doom and gloom to the series and people who already have doom and gloom in their lives, want something at least a little bit hopeful. I guess it’s all a matter of degrees. In a prosperous economy, people can accept more doom and gloom than at other times. And like you, I agree, that seeing that heart every week, when they can tune into something more light, could drive some away. And yeah…I hope the season ends on a high note too. I’m sure; if people knew everything was going to come out all right…they would be interested in buying the DVD, and maybe watching the rest of the epi from s5.

Jas… thanks so much for your reply. I, of course, only researched US stats, but I thought it would apply worldwide. I hope someday they do find a way to include online viewing in the ratings. I find it interesting that new beginnings are popular over there too. And yes, your right, escapism is not the cure for everyone, especially someone who is clinically depressed. Again, it’s all a matter of degrees.

Nielson also had a group called the “Panic Stricken”, and that group actually had a dropped in how much television they watched. Apparently no show can fulfill their need for seeing someone worst then them, because they feel there isn’t any. Seems that was a part of your patient problem. So sad…especiall y now that Christmas is here. And as you mention, Christmas time is when so much emphasis is put on family, is puts an added strain on those who have problems in the family unit. It actually causes a rise in suicides and such. Now, more than ever, happiness should be seen in all shows. Wish SPN would only re-run fun episode from all seasons. Maybe help get people more interested in the show. I’ll post the references you asked for this evening. I’m at work now, but will post, and my notes are at home.

Randal, don’t even get me started on politics! ? I agree, SPN is a very complex show, but it’s only complex to those who want it to be. It can be a simple for those who just like to see two brothers killing urban legends, or more in depth for people like us who like to analysis every word of the script. And I think how complex it is, or how simple it is will varies in the same person depending on their mood at the time. It’s all a matter of degrees.

I agree with you and Jas, this show is destined to be a classic…I just want it to be a classic BEFORE it goes off the air…not find everyone LOVES it when it gone! How many times have you heard the phase “It was a show that was ahead of its time”….

I also like your touching on the label of the show. It does have many themes, and I personally wish it was NOT labeled as horror. The label, I think, turns many off before they ever watch it, and for me the reason seems to be that many think of horror as usually having a washed out script, poor acting, even poorer directing and just chocked FULL of blood and gore. But that is only one type, and really it can be seen a mile away. So when I’ll tell people to watch SPN, and they say no because they don’t like horror; I say, did you watch ‘Jaws’, ‘Birds’, ‘Psycho’, which of course they did. When I point out those were horror shows, their shocked! SPN is in this realm…a highly intellectual show with multi-layers to the characters and stories lines. Really I think if should be marketed different in this economy. I found an old reference that Kripke said this show was going to be for the middleclass. Don’t know what happened to that idea, but especially in this economy, I think that concept needs to be revisited.

Suze, the bankers to blame for everything! I really liked your definition of Schadenfreude, it was much better than mine! :lol:
JADeBlois
# JADeBlois 2009-12-07 20:42
I don't know about many of the other things that you've mentioned, but I've been watching this show since it began. That said, the past two seasons I've only been able to view online or by waiting (painstakingly waiting) to get the box-set for the dvd.

Why?

Very simple. When the FCC decided that everyone had to go digital it screwed people like me who were relying on her rabbit ears to watch the show. I used to consistently get 8 channels that I could sort of watch. Now I'm done to two with CW coming in sporadically. There have been many nights that I've started to watch Supernatural only to be utterly disappointed because the channel keeps fitzing out and I'm missing dialog.

The simple fact of the matter is that I can't afford cable or any of the other TV offering services and this upgrade to digital didn't take into consideration people like me.

Before you ask, yes, I have the converter.

Incidentally, there are four of us that like the show. Myself, my husband (both 37), our roommate (26 - male), and my daughter (16).

Supernatural is the ONLY TV show that I attempt to watch on a regular basis. So its even more frustrating when I can't watch all of it because the TV channel goes berserk in the middle of an episode.

"Fallen Idol" was a prime example of this. I couldn't watch the first 10 minutes because it kept going in and out, but I was able to see 15 minutes, then had to give up at the twenty minute mark. If it wasn't for the ability to watch it the next day on CW I'd go nuts. The planets must have aligned properly on the 19th of November, because I was able to "Abandon All Hope".

There has only ever been one other TV show that I followed with this kind of consistency, oddly enough it was canceled.

~*~ Jenny
Karen
# Karen 2009-12-08 06:18
Hi Sablegreen

Thank you for the article, I found it very interesting.

I could see how people that have lost their jobs due to closures, layoffs, or outsourcing would prefer to watch something uplifting, instead of something dark and somewhat depressing.

I figured that the increase in recording of the show was also due to the fact that we are no longer a 9-5 society. Shops and businesses are staying open past 6pm and some are now running 24/7. So it’s either record or miss the show.

For me I have been loosing interest in other shows that I have watched for years.
They just seem to have lost the appeal. I’m still watching them out of habit/loyalty, but I have on occasion missed episodes and it didn’t bother me.
Now if I were to miss an episode of Supernatural???
Major melt down, it would not be pretty.
I guess for me it would have to be something pretty crucial in my life to ever stop watching Supernatural.
Jasminka
# Jasminka 2009-12-08 07:54
Oh Karen, I guess one day the crucial event will be the day the CW decides to take Supernatural off the screen... :o, yes, I hope not anytime soon.

Intesting point - I had not taken into account that our business hours have changed. I used to watch the daily news at 8pm now, due to longer working hours or other things that need to be done, I watch them later, about 10pm. Any show before that, should I want to watch it, I would have to record, indeed. I missed out several tv programs because of that. Even if I record a show, I barely have time to watch it, and I don't like spending the whole weekend in front of my tv screen. If I did that, I wouldn't have any time to meet my loved ones, work out or do whatever you have to do apart from work. I wish days had 36 hours...

We're lucky, though. For the time being we are able to enjoy this particular show - either on tv or online...

Love Jas
Jasminka
# Jasminka 2009-12-08 08:05
JADeBlois and Alice, gosh, this is wrong – with the triumph of digital television, many people who receive only cable are being cut off. It’s the same over here in Europe, though I guess we haven’t come as far as the States in terms of digitalizing the market as of yet. Only a matter of time.
There’s still plenty of cable around. But the channel that is currently airing Supernatural’ s forth season is a digital one, and I’d have to get a receiver and a contract to be able to watch it (if I had not seen it already, and – in addition to that: the German version sucks big time).
But that would not really make any sense – pay that amount of money and get binded by contract for the sake of one show only… and too little time to watch more on that channel….
Sometimes I’d like to know about the fights that undoubtedly go on behind the scenes about the rights to broadcast certain shows and if (and how) we as viewers might be able to influence the outcome… I hope your reception will get better!

:-),Jas
Randal
# Randal 2009-12-08 10:39
sablegreen, how many times have I heard the 'ahead of its time' thrown at my beloved Millennium, fuck you very much, Fox.

Great point on what constitutes horror. Not everything is generic slasher fare or soulless torture porn. Hell, even in Carpenter's remake of The Thing, the characters weren't exactly likable but you still cared about what the outcome was going to be because they were interesting.

Politics and bankers. Hey, there's an idea for MOTW for season six! 8-)
Sablegreen
# Sablegreen 2009-12-08 12:06
Randal...I loved The Thing....origin al and remake. And usually the remake is horrible.

Stephen King said, “I recognize terror as the finest emotion, and so I will try to terrorize the reader. But if I find I cannot terrify him/her, I will try to horrify; and if I find I cannot horrify, I’ll go for the gross-out. I’m not proud.” Read into that what you will. Just thought it appropriate to mention it here. I really found some interesting stuff doing this article.
Sablegreen
# Sablegreen 2009-12-08 12:07
Hi Jas, Sorry I didn’t get them up night. Here are some of the references I used in the article. I think these are what you want. Happy reading!

The Superman Complex: Achieving the Balance That Leads to True Success by Max Carey

Understanding the Popular Appeal of Horror Cinema: An Integrated-Inte ractive Model

The Naked and the Undead: Evil and the Appeal of Horror by Cynthia A. Freeland

Epilogue: Evil and the Appeal of Horror by Cynthia A. Freeland
Jasminka
# Jasminka 2009-12-09 02:47
Sablegreen, thanks a lot for the books, gonna look them up in our university library or amazon, well, somebody's going to have them. Thanks, sweetie!
Take care, Jas :D
Jasminka
# Jasminka 2009-12-09 02:51
Randal and Sablegreen, many of those horror flicks that get out are, well, bad... But luckily, sometimes you find really good actors there, and those make you care about the story and its outcome. Slasher movies are not my thing, don't scare me. the Psycho-terror is more something that blows my mind, The Ring, The Exorcist or Psycho (original) ruined me.
Love, Jas
Suze
# Suze 2009-12-09 04:43
The best and creepiest horror lets you do all the work, you don't actually see much, it's all in your head, so the actors have to have the chops to sell their fear to the audience ... :o
Mary Sue
# Mary Sue 2009-12-09 08:51
Great thought provoking article. Never considered economy as a factor. Vert interesting.

Have trouble getting into your sight. Can anyone help.
Randal
# Randal 2009-12-09 11:53
Not exactly true, alice. I use Firefox at work and home and sometimes I'll have to relog in if I'm taking too long typing my response. Now, it's plausible that it's our funky server. 8-)
Sablegreen
# Sablegreen 2009-12-09 13:16
Mary Sue,

Thanks so much for reading the article...so glad you liked it. Hopefully more research will be done on this to see how valid it is.

Jas, those three movies really did me in too...especiall y The Ring. I didn't even watch the sequel...the first one was enough. 8-) Another movie that got me was The Other. ….very freaky.

As for the browsers, don’t know if this will help, but with IE6 at work, I sometimes have trouble getting into the site. I found if I changed the text size from medium to smaller, the site pops open. I don’t have that problem with IE6 my home computer. Don’t know why. I can use Firefox at work with no problems. Also can use Netscape both at home and work with no problems. Hope this helps.
Jasminka
# Jasminka 2009-12-11 06:41
Sablegreen, just saw your response...you know, it's funny, The Ring was somewhat okay, as evil was finished in the end (well, somehow), and that's what I need. When it's all good, I am able to sleep....

When they looked out of the window to the lawn where Michael Myers should have lied dead and found only empty space there, I was freaked. So - twisted brain of mine - he could appear any time at my door... That was scary...

I watched the Ring II though, I'm a masochist sometimes, and that did not end as it should have (evil vanquished for good), so I kept dreaming about that and even looked occasionally into my closet or under my bed, provoking some, well, strange comments from my guy....

And here I am, still liking the genre and horror movies...

Love, Jas
Freebird
# Freebird 2009-12-13 14:28
Sablegreen, this is an interesting article! Never looked on tv-watching that way. It reminded me of a conversation I had a long time ago with a lady who used to live in Mexico: we were discussing the overflow of mexican soap operas (telenovelas) here in Croatia, you know those neverending stories that have no relation to real life, displaying human actions rather distorted, imo. Anyway, she had an interesting view on the major popularity of these shows. Since Mexico's population is mostly poor, the telenovelas keep them "buisy" (apparently they air all day long), i.e. people get so involved into the story they forget about their own misery and therefore are "kept quite" i.e. don't go out and do something about it (e.g. demonstrate). I found this view pretty disturbing and unbelievable. But then again, I remember when the first soap opera aired here in Croatia (the US-show Santa Barbara). Thou it was a time of prosperity and hope for Croatia (the communists were gone, democracy was coming), everyone watched it. I mean, everyone! No matter what gender, age or economic status. During its air time the streets were empty, and you were not advised to phone anyone. I watched it, too, and admit that very soon I got soaked up into the story. Today, years after, I don't remember a damn thing about it. But I understand the mexican lady's point of view now. Even if there's nothing else one can fill one's life with, in this case due to financial deficiency, the tv is somehow always available. And it's so easy to give in into the imaginary world of tv shows.
I have never been an avid tv-show-followe r, sure there are a couple of shows I like to watch, but never in a way that I just HAVE TO see every episode. With Supernatural it's different, and I often find myself teasing me about it. Watching every episode, buying the dvds, reading discussions about it - I can't believe it's me! Right now I'm wearing my favorite t-shirt: it's got the Impala printed on it. I just can't believe myself. But it's okay, because the Supernatural story, together with the amazing reviews and articles the fans write, has enriched my life - as lame as that sounds. I've tried to bring my friends to watch it, too (of course), and here's another interesting observation regarding viewing: I think, that another important factor for watching a show is the promotion and air time. Surely, this comes as no surprise. Here's my experience: Supernatural aired in Croatia for 2 seasons, they aired during one winter continously (no summer hiatus), there were absolutely no promotion, trailers, previews, teasers - nothing. The air time was shifted several times regarding the day and the time - from monday to tuesday to friday, and always at some time between 11p.m. and 1a.m. Sometime at the first half of S2 it got a fixed time: friday nights at 1a.m. It's a miracle I even came across it, zapping one night through the program and catching the last 10 minutes of Route 666. Thou I kept missing episodes (friday nights I'm out or in bed, c'mon!), very soon I was hooked. I told my friends about it, and their reponse was: "When does it air? Are you crazy?". I only got two of my friends watching it, and they live in America and have that machine that records tv shows so you can watch them when you have the time. Lending my croatian friends the dvds doesn't do it either, 'cause there is no croatian translation, and even I have sometimes trouble understanding with the 70% of american slang they use. Of course, ratings in Croatia must have been very, very low (don't know where to get exact data, I guess networks keep that to themselves) and the show was taken off the air, again without any notice. I found only one blog commentary on it, and the author described the networks's treatment of the show quite picturesque: They bought a golden cow and sold it for a sick chicken.
Jasminka, I watched Supernatural also on the german network, it aired later than in Croatia, so I wanted to catch up on the episodes. You're right, the synch sucked, I mean, the Impala is NOT a HE!
Anyway, I'm left a little dazzled about this whole "who watches what and when" issue. For me it's definitely about the story and the way it's delivered, and I don't care what genre it is, nor on what network. Convenient air time would be appreciated, too. And maybe an announcement, so we can take a glimpse on the Pilot and decide whether it's worth the time.
I enjoy reading the articles here very much, glad I discovered your site, guys (ain't much of a website-surfer either :lol: )
Lara
Sablegreen
# Sablegreen 2009-12-15 10:53
Lara, thanks so much for posting and reading my article. Glad you like the site. I haven't been online this weekend, so sorry for the late reply. Your response was really interesting. TV will let people forget their problems for a while....just never thought about it placating a whole population.

I see you too have been smitten by the SPN bug. Wow. You sure have problems viewing it. Those times are so hard for many people. Seems the network spent a lot of money for nothing. The picturesque description is good. Hopefully they will get better coverage by you soon.

I don’t know what it is about the show that has so much appeal, but there are about 2 million die-hard fans here in the US and more internationally that just can’t get enough of the show, for whatever the reason. And no matter what…we stay true to the show…even if we have a few gripes now and then.