The last three episodes of The Wil Wheaton Project (105, 106, 107) are pretty much what I wanted this show to be all along. I feel like it’s a good blend of irreverence, silliness, cleverness, and actual information that’s entertaining and interesting. We’ve had some great guests drop in, and our original creations (our silly TV theme songs, games like How Will They Bite It?) are landing on the audience exactly the way we hoped that they would.
As far as I can tell, the people who watch the show are having a good time with it, and the feedback I’ve been getting has been overwhelmingly positive. This makes me happy, because I’m making the show that I want to make, and the people who are watching it seem to enjoy that.
So, creatively, I’m very happy.
Our ratings are okay, but not great. We are building on our lead in, which is good, and people are watching the whole show, which is also good, but it’s discouraging that more people aren’t watching something that I’m really proud of.
I’ve done just about everything I can to convince the network to make it easier to watch online, but I’m just getting a runaround that ends with a whole lot of audience that probably would add to our ratings just going to YouTube or Pirate Bay to watch us. I’m happy that people are finding and enjoying the show, but I’m disappointed that our network isn’t making it easier for those people to be counted in a way that would help us get renewed for more episodes.
I made a decision two weeks ago, after 106 didn’t do as well as I hoped it would, to not care about the ratings any more. They matter only because it’s part of some inscrutable formula some people in a building in New York use to determine if we get to make more than 12 episodes, and those numbers are a distraction from the creative process for me.
As it stands right now, we’ll get to do at least five more episodes. After that, my long range sensors can’t get a signal. I could spend a lot of time worrying about our ratings, but the fact is that people tune in or they don’t. The network has to promote the show in a smart way that gets people interested in us, and we have to make a show that those people enjoy enough to stick around and watch.
So I’m going to stay focused on the creative side of things, and work with an incredibly talented, smart, and funny team of writers and producers to make a show that we are proud of, that we can stand by.
Whether that’s for five more or thirty more is currently in Schrödinger’s Nielsen Box.
On last week’s Wil Wheaton Project, we invited viewers to have some fun with a picture of Kristian Nairn, who plays Hodor “Hodor” Hodor on Game of Thrones.
I wanted to feature a bunch of them on the show tonight, but we couldn’t because of reasons. Here are some honorable mentions that I thought were awesome, and because we live in the future, I can show feature them for the whole damn world. Depending on your browser settings, you may have to click on the links to see the ‘shops:
Let’s get the important news out of the way first: The Wil Wheaton Project is moving from 10pm to 9pm, starting next week. I don’t know why, but I am told that it’s a good thing, because of reasons. Our ratings have been good, growing with each new episode, which I am also told is what the network expected. I am also trying very hard to just ignore the ratings, because the thing I need to be focused on is being as funny and creative and awesome as I can be. The only reason I care about ratings at all is because I genuinely love the people I work with, and I want to work with them for a very long time.
I was hoping my beloved LA Kings would sweep the Rangers last night, but the hockey gods (and a little snow fort) had different plans. The upshot of this is that I get to go to another hockey game this season.
Here’s what The Pirate Bay has to say about our show as of about noon pacific today:
I have been advised by people who don’t understand me that I should be “more careful with [my] online image” because I’m hosting a show with my name in the title. One person even said to me, “Listen, instead of [list of pretty much everything I do], here’s what your Twitter followers want to hear about from you …” and it took everything I had to not say, “I’m sorry, are you talking about the 2.5 million people who I keep telling not to follow me because I’m lame, but they do anyway because they seem to enjoy exactly what you told me not to do?” So instead, I said, “Thank you. I’ll think about that.” Which is true, because I did think about it, for about one second. Then, I decided that this is pretty much how I will respond to people who tell me to change who I am because of reasons:
More than one person on Twitter observed that that picture is pretty much my online image already. I have to agree. #Butts.
I sent the link to my writers, and said that we should try to find a place in the show this week for it, and one of my producers told me that the script was already long, but we’d try, because it is such an awesome video.
I was then faced with a bit of a dilemma, because I wanted to share it with the world right away, but I also thought it would be a cool thing to reveal on the show. My dilemma didn’t last long, and I decided to post it right away, because I know not everyone can or does watch the show, and something this awesome shouldn’t be kept to the (at the time) roughly 3000 people who had seen it.
When I posted it to my G+, I said that there wasn’t time in the show, but I had to share it, anyway. A guy said, “Yeah it is amazing and it’s equally amazing how you didn’t find any time to post it in this weeks WWP. lol”
So I wasn’t sure if he was being snarky or whatever, but I saw an opportunity to share a little bit of the process that goes into making the show, and how that process affected the ability to include this clip in the show:
We have to lock down most of our script on Friday afternoon, so it can go to the legal department. On Monday morning, we write stuff for the shows and movies that made news over the weekend, and we only have a few hours to do that before we send it to the lawyers.
We only have 21.5 minutes in each show, and this week’s Friday script was already something like 5 minutes long. We know that will happen, and we plan to cut some bits that we shoot in front of the audience, but we do our best to get as close to the 21.5 when we tape, so it makes editing faster and easier to finish (we only have 12 hours or so before we have to deliver to the network, and that’s not as long as you may think).
So knowing all that, consider: I didn’t see this until Saturday afternoon. I sent it to the writers and producers, so we could do our best to find a place for it, but it’s probably not going to make this week’s show for the reasons I’ve already stated. Because it’s sort of an “evergreen” thing, it’s very likely that we’ll find a place for it next week or the week after. Now, I could have just sat on it for two weeks, but I thought it was so awesome, I wanted the world to know about it right away.
I hope this is interesting, and gives a little insight into how the WWP comes together.
One of my favorite bits from this week’s show is a silly game show we created called How Will They Bite It? It wasn’t until after we’d played the game that I realized it has the potential to actually be a legitimate game, that anyone can play at home while watching some of the magnificently craptacular Syfy Original Movies (and let’s be honest: magnificently craptacular original movies is probably the one area where the network formerly-known as sci-fi truly excels, and may actually set the standard by which all other magnificently craptacular movies should be measured.)
Take a look:
Although we’re only two episodes in, I think we have a possible recurring bit in How Will They Bite It?, one that I can play with just about anyone who we can trick into coming onto our show extend the tremendous privilege of appearing on The Wil Wheaton Project.
I got our ratings numbers yesterday afternoon. Surprisingly, they were slightly lower than our first episode, but I understand that the ratings across the entire network for the whole night were down, so that’s not necessarily a reflection of us, as much as it is something that just sort of seems to have happened. I wonder if there was a big sports thing, or maybe a finale in some other show? I heard that we kept more of our lead in than last week, which is actually really good, according to the people who care about that sort of thing. I also heard that a very important person at the network loved our second episode, which is also very good. Most importantly for me, though, is that I was completely happy with the show. I thought the jokes worked the way we wanted them to, and all the other stuff I mentioned yesterday.
Felicia and I talked last week when I was feeling pretty down about the ratings, and she pointed out to me that the only thing I can truly control is the creative side of things, so if I put out something that I’m happy with, I can let all the other stuff go. This week, I can let all the other stuff go.
Now, here’s something interesting that I’m probably going to get yelled at by the network goons for sharing, but it’s important and relevant. A lot of people have told me that I haven’t been able to watch our second episode online. I understand that if they try to watch it at Syfy.com, and they don’t have a cable or satellite provider, they can’t see it. I understand that it isn’t even on Hulu like our first episode was, and the show isn’t on Hulu+ at all.
With that in mind, look at this, from about an hour ago, from The Pirate Bay:
Last week, our first episode had a total of about 800 seeders and about half as many leechers. Math is hard, but I’m going to estimate over 2300 seeders and almost as many leechers, for our second episode alone. That’s pretty huge growth and interest from people who probably want to watch our show, but can’t, because they’re cord cutters, or they’re in a country that doesn’t carry the show. Yes, I know there are people who want everything for free and won’t pay for anything, but I don’t count them as “lost” viewers, because they were never going to be scored by advertisers or the network, anyway.
I think I mentioned that our ratings improved with every repeat last week, and our 11pm repeat on Friday even beat our premiere on Tuesday. This tells me that people clearly want to watch our show, and as more people hear about it, the more they tune in. I understand that this is the way it typically goes with shows like ours (I heard it took The Daily Show a year and a half to find its audience), so we’re expecting a slow but steady building of audience as the summer goes on. That will be awesome, but it can be even more awesome, if we can make it easier for people who want to watch us to find a legal way to do it.
I’ve heard from countless people who legally watched our first episode that they wanted to watch our second one, but discovered that they couldn’t watch it in a legal way. It’s out of my control, so I can’t do anything except point out over and over and over again that the show is losing potential viewers, and that’s really frustrating to me.
Our show costs a lot of money to make. It’s possible to make our show because Syfy licenses it from us, and then sells advertising on the show to cover their investment. If everything goes according to plan, it’s profitable. If it’s profitable, we get to keep making more episodes. The best way to help us be profitable, then, is to watch the show on Syfy when it airs during the week. I don’t fully understand the realities and nuances of licensing and all that, but I do know that the world is rapidly changing, and a lot of people don’t want to watch TV live. I know that lots of people don’t want cable because they can’t afford it, or because they hate cable companies. I know that a lot of those people would gladly pay for Amazon on demand, an iTunes subscription, whatever Google Play does, or watch some ads on Hulu or Hulu+. I’m doing everything I can to let the people who make those deals know this, but I’m a very small voice in a very loud room. If you want to help make that voice louder, you can write a polite email to Syfy and let them know that you want to watch the show in a way that supports us.
Maybe this is all a lot of hand-wringing for nothing, because we are only two episodes in, and because this is an entirely new type of show for Syfy, they’re just getting their legs under them the same way we are. Maybe this will all work itself out over the next couple of weeks, and everyone will be happy. That’s what I hope for, because I am having an insanely good time making this show.
Before I go, I just want to reiterate that I want you to watch our show, and I want you to like our show so much that you keep watching it. I’m trying my best to make it easy for you to watch our show in a way that helps us pay for it, so we can keep making more of it. I know for some of you it’s easier to just fire up a torrent client and go to down, and I’m sympathetic to that. But I’ll ask all of you, please, if you can watch the show in a way that counts for our network and our advertisers, please do.