1. Stop caring so much about overnight Nielsen ratings. When DVR playback was added in, “Jericho’s” ratings rose at least 10 percent. When making decisions to cancel or save a show, networks should factor in iTunes sales, online streaming, on-demand viewing and the fervor of a show’s audience. NBC did that with “The Office,” and look how that paid off. With an Emmy, thank you.
2. Live with lower ratings expectations. You have a million ways to sell shows now – through foreign rights, DVD sales, syndication, iTunes and so forth, and now you can sell ads online too. Get over the obsession with this week’s numbers and look at the big picture: You now have even more ways to sell your products and make money.
3. Give marginal shows more of a chance – let them air for at least six episodes before you yank them.
4. If you do cancel a show, put all of the remaining episodes online immediately. Don’t dole them out once a week. And if you’re going to burn off episodes of a canceled show on the air, tell us when they’re going to be on and then don’t stop airing them without warning us.
5. If a show is going to be pre-empted or moved, tell viewers that. You have a broadcast network – broadcast the news, for Pete’s sake! Have an on-air announcer tell us when we can next see the show and tell us on the Web site why it wasn’t on that week.
6. Speaking of Web sites, sites for individual shows often are a joke. Tell us when a show has been moved, preempted or canceled – before we read it somewhere else. And improve the often-clunky access to streaming shows on your Web sites.
7. Don’t yank shows around for no reason. ABC, you wanted good ratings for “Men in Trees” – and you got them. You moved it to Thursdays but then pulled it and never told us when it was coming back. Ask us again why we’re watching your shows in shrinking numbers.
8. For the love of TiVo, don’t give your shows two- or three-month breaks (at least “Lost” has learned this lesson). We have lives, and we don’t always remember when a show is returning or what happened before the break.
9. Don’t respond to the rise of DVRs and commercial-skipping by shoving endless product placement down our throats. Done right (meaning, done subtly) it’s an acceptable evil. Done wrong, it’s gross.
10. Last but not least, take chances. Make good shows. We’ll forgive you interesting misfires as long as you stop making tired versions of somebody else’s hits. Nobody saw the success of “Lost,” “Heroes,” “Ugly Betty” or even “Jericho” coming. Keep surprising us and creating interesting characters and worlds, and we’ll do our best to show up.