Never in the history of television have fans had so much power. Today, they literally have a myriad of options to be heard. Fans can “speak” through the number of downloads of their favorite shows on Neflix, Hulu, Amazon Instant Video, iTunes and other streaming services. Thanks to a high volume of downloads that gave Arrested Development an afterlife, Netflix decided to bring back this show with 15 new episodes after a 7-year hiatus. Unimaginable, just a couple of years ago. Also, Netflix is in talks with Jericho producers, another cancelled show to the chagrin of its fans.
Other beloved TV shows got axed - for example Chuck, Firefly and Farscape, and fans have responded by raising money to publish ads on popular media and entertainment outlets, or worked with advertisers to fund the show with very creative product placements.
Fast-forward to 2013. With generic crowdfunding platforms, such as Kickstarter and IndiGoGo, fans get to decide whether a show or movie gets produced by pledging money. Over 90,000 fans of the cancelled show Veronica Mars recently pledged over $5.7M on Kickstarter to make a movie. The show creator, Rob Thomas, led the charge with the blessing of the show actors and Warner Bros.
Yes, fans are quite literally in the driving seat.
Do you think this is exciting? Wait to hear about the "new kid on the block" and fans' new best friend, SMGO.
SMGO (the acronym stands for my "Show Must Go On") was quietly launched a couple of months ago to test the concept, hence why the brand isn’t a household name quite yet. Two San Francisco entrepreneurs, Dave Coduto and Chehin Tourmi saw the need for a kickstarter-like company specialized in bringing back cancelled shows when one of their favorite shows was prematurely cancelled. SMGO has a well defined process so that once fans reach their voting benchmark (proving that they have a realistic chance to crowdfund their favorite cancelled show), SMGO reaches out to the show producers. Shows cannot transition to the 'funding phase' without production studio approval. But SMGO's ingenuity doesn't stop here. They have worked out an arrangement with PayPal, so that once a cancelled show is in its funding phase, PayPal doesn't collect money pledged by fans until the funding goal is met and a contract with the production studio is signed. This is a big differentiator from all-purpose crowdfunding platforms. In addition, unlike other crowdfunding systems, SMGO does not charge fees to fund the shows.
What happens once a show is back? Backers will be able to stream their show commercial-free directly on smgo.tv, while fans that can’t fund the show, can still watch it on smgo.tv with limited commercial interruptions, Hulu-style.
The concept and business model are so well thought out that we shouldn’t be surprised to see SMGO fund original programs in the future.
As stated on the SMGO website, “By monetizing your opinion, we give you a real chance to compete with advertisers and choose what programming you want to watch.”
Legend of the Seeker fans are all over SMGO. With little to no promotion, and an erratic airing schedule, “Legend of the Seeker” averaged 3.6 million viewers during its first month of airing, won an Emmy Award for “Outstanding Music Composition for a Series” (2009), received an Emmy Nomination for “Outstanding Main Title Theme Music” (2010), and made it to “TV Guide’s Most Popular TV Shows” (2011). “Seeker” was cancelled after only two seasons when the main distributor, The Tribune Company, filed for bankruptcy (Tribune owned 35% of the affiliates that aired the show in the U.S.).
The show is having a resurgence - especially outside of the United States as Netflix and Amazon expand their reach into new countries and more fans find “Legend of the Seeker” through their streaming service. The show has fans in at least 60 countries around the world where it has been broadcast.
Movie and TV show production is about to get really, really exciting.
Got that networks and advertisers? These shows have high brand loyalty, which is a huge opportunity for you.
And fans out there, are you heart broken over a cancelled show? Head over to SMGO and vote (or pledge money), and if you don't see your favorite show, you can fill out the online form to suggest your show at SMGO suggest.