“Why do people say Misha saved the show? It’s J2′s show.”
So fun fact:
By industry standard, a show, within its first two episodes, TYPICALLY loses 15% of its demographic. (hence our high 2.5 becoming a low 2.2 between episodes 1 and 2.) It’s whether it can fight back against that bump, and how long it can. S1 performed well until episode 8. As it progressed, we waffled from mid 2.5s as low as a 1.3, ranging mid-high 1.x, and ending at 1.6. That’s why despite all the 2.2/4/5 at the start of the season, we averaged a 1.94. But that’s okay. It’s considered a solid show for the CW, even in that day. 2005-2006.
There is a rhyme, a reason, an ebb, and a flow to ratings. The fact that SPN diminished after its first season was no surprise. It’s no insult.
2006-2007: Season 2
We started just around the demo our S1 finale ended at and waned, again. We petered down from 1.7 to 1.2 and by the end, averaged 1.38. Okay. A little concerning we’re not holding the line, but not a critical loss, especially with even-then gradual loss to still-slow-moving TV decline with the infection of cable to american homes progressing like a silent cold. The issue is, this sunk us close to the bottom of the zone considered a solid investment.
2007-2008: Season 3
And then the decline continued, mostly within surrounding media averages of TV . 1.19. That’s fine. Really our average value dropped just a point or two in the industry’s eyes. The problem is, where S2 left us, that left us scraping the bottom of what was considered a solid or sound show investment, with a decently high budget investment (cited around 2-3 million/episode back then).
But there were things going on outside of it. In 2008, the industry started seeing rapid conversion to cable. While social media expanded, barely any dreams were out in how to really apply it, streaming options were new ideas, but barely executed; ads devalued and more terrifyingly - the government put out the Digital Conversion Mandate.
Anyone old enough to be semi-adult around then may remember friends panicking that they wouldn’t be able to use their rabbit ears anymore. Cable, expensive conversion box, or bust. By 2009, all TVs would click off unless you had cable or the converter, because all stations were being forced to click to digital. And some were doing it early.
As TV went from being mostly 8-10 or if lucky in your area, 12 options per household into basic cable packages offering 20-30, suddenly, options diversified. Grey’s Anatomy’s 9.3 of 2006-7 gouged to 7.16 by 2007-08 within a year, and it was a leader still at the time. And with the conversion box looming like a threat on the horizon, by 2008-09, Grey’s would clip out at 5.73. And this reflected almost everywhere. Every major show, every major network. 10s became 5s within 2 seasons and those were our /top/ runners. And the industry wasn’t updated to even know how to address this.
With Supernatural floating at the bottom of the “okay” barrel for their bubble, (as cited by Kripke, “We were on the bubble, and we didn’t know if we’d make it”), this was a TERRIFYING time to be in production and a HORRIBLE place to be in.
2008-2009: Season 4
As Grey’s dropped from 7.13 to 5.73, and others like it mirrored it or worse (at losses of 10-30% being common) or more than 20% of its raw demographic in a single year, you can understand where the panic in the industry was. Nobody knew how to handle this. Advertisement and thus income was getting boned right in the taint.
Supernatural, hanging at a 1.19 and praying for its life, already in gradual decline even in pre-crisis curve, could easily become one of those 30% downs. Projected curve would have put them around 0.83. Or, at that point, roughly 0.2 points beneath what would make advertisers even consider them while everything was going up in flames.
But instead, something magical happened. As Dean pulled himself from his grave, so did the show.
We didn’t go down. We went up. And we were one of very, very few shows to do so.
Kripke said he was glad he had taken up the idea of angels, because it had rejuvinated the show, “in no small part thanks to this guy,“ as he gestured to Misha.
We rose. From 1.19. To 1.33 for the season average.
We bounced in the opposite direction as much as we were naturally slated to sink.
And as methods came to track this chaotic mess of transition, Supernatural’s actual retention in the industry shone well, well above the previous seasons. Season 4 was performing, amidst the industry crash, 18.2% better than season 3 before it, with and 15.9% percent better in respective retention than season 2.
And as this pandemic continued through 2009-2010, Supernatural held. It held its level, its curve, and its virtue against time. We only really started sinking lower by late season 6, despite being in what was considered a bad timeslot; it was season 7 we nuked out for real; even in, again, respective industry curve. Now, fill in the blanks of what was going on in the show during this time, I’ve written much larger coverages of this since.
But by S8/2012-13, we were back on our feet to the S4 retention value in curve. By S9, we went higher than SPN had ever been before. We experienced a minor waffle in S10, but it still kept us higher than even season 1 with its high averages; S11-12, we crept up and stayed level in retention, while streaming options that mark sales and digital calls but fail to pour into demos skyrocketed in options and shows continued to sink. And season 13 is a beautiful beast so far; at our lowest possible projections short of unexpected crash and burn, we will at least match S9’s retention; we have a chance of completely shattering it.
September 18th, 2008, when Misha Collins waltzed into the show, a new dynamic saved it from dropping through the floor both in ratings and even adapted industry curve while the entire television world turned on its head. And the only time it has fallen through that floor since is in the season they tried to remove him.
So whenever someone numbly, blindly asks, “where did this come from?” you don’t even have to just say “Eric Kripke said it.” It’s true. Eric Kripke said it. But there was a reason he said it.
And he said it because Castiel inevitably saved the show.
And Kripke isn’t the only one who’s said it.
There is Ben Edlund,
And there is even Robert Singer as of last year,
both quite interesting statements with all the “Castiel isn’t a lead”, a point I’ve already shredded by-standard here: (Link - Re: Trivial Arguing on Leads)
People say Castiel rejuvinated or saved the show because Kripke said he did because he did, and it just takes paying attention to history outside of the SPN bubble to understand why.
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