The Sopranos are the sole reason I have hung on to my Comcast cable television account. I’ve been waiting for the final curtain to fall on the epic series before I pull the plug on television – for good. Now, three episodes into the final season, I am beginning to regret that I didn’t walk away sooner!
The Sopranos in its last season is boring, long in the tooth, and well, has lost some of its edge. Paisans with prostrate problems, mobsters with mental disorders and Prozac-dependency, and pneumatic Russian blondes are now shticks for a show that was once must-see-TV.
Watching a scene in the latest episode, when Tony started thinking of his youth when Paulie was cool I realized how trite and Hollywood-esque the show had become. It prompted me to ask myself: why is it so hard to recognize that an idea is no longer good? And when we do, why is it so hard to kill it? Why, against our better judgment, do we persist in spending precious creative and material resources on products that clearly are not working?
Despite all the hype, according to The Hollywood Reporter, “Nielsen Media Research”:http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/hr/content_display/news/e3i908ab23ddf11fcfd5d6deeb5a7108cf6 reports that 7.7 million viewers tuned-in April 8 for the premier episode of The Sopranos final installment – a 19% drop in viewers from the March 2006 season debut.
Call me crazy, but a double digit drop in audience size is often enough to get a less-beloved (or should I say, less capitalized?) television series whacked. The Sopranos practically minted money for HBO in its first five years. But now I wonder, did the network press its luck in buying the last season? Although The Sopranos is still the top-rated cable TV show, Nielsen reports its viewership has slipped even further in each of the “two weeks since”:http://www.nielsenmedia.com/nc/portal/site/Public/menuitem.43afce2fac27e890311ba0a347a062a0/?show=%2FFilters%2FPublic%2Ftop_tv_ratings%2Fcable_tv&vgnextoid=9e4df9669fa14010VgnVCM100000880a260aRCRD.
I’m guilty of Plug-Puller’s Procrastination, too. Consider my experience with GigaGamez.
For someone who knows a thing or two about online publishing, the tell tale signs that GigaGamez wasn’t going to cut it were there just weeks after the site launched in December 2006. GigaGamez traffic growth was about as well-paced as Tony Soprano on the treadmill. After an early spike, it never exceeded 1000 page views a day, flattening out, and performing far worse than the double digit growth rate of our very successful franchise, “NewTeeVee”:http://gigaom.com/video/, and paled in comparison to the WebWorkerDaily, which is about six months old, and currently on track to overtake GigaOM by end of the year. In case of GigaGamez, it never garnered attention from other bloggers, and never formed a community. Both NewTeeVee and WebWorkerDaily have a passionate community of users.
Yet, with the unbridled optimism that sustains us founders, I persisted in throwing good money after bad, betting long that the GigaGamez posts would eventually energize the site.
Two months and thousands of dollars later, it became painfully obvious that it wasn’t going to work. (I paid “my respects”:http://gigaom.com/2007/04/13/the-new-the-old-an-update/ on GigaOM earlier this month.)
But there was a lesson learned: never be the me-too player in your business category. It was not easy to admit that Joystiq and Kotaku dominate the gaming blogs and scores of other lesser known blogs. Logic and facts dictated that I should have made this decision earlier – but I didn’t. Just like HBO. Sometimes we fail to recognize that occasionally an idea is poorly-timed, just bad, or–as in the case of The Sopranos—it has just exhausted its potential. In either case the cold hard truth is that it is time to whack it!