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The latest news is that the "Rangers" telemovie did not get a terribly good average national rating. The movie did well on the west coast, according to information that Time Warner Cable in San Diego posted on its website. It was the third-highest rated show of the week, with a 3.2 rating. But on the east coast (and everywhere else that received Sci-Fi's east coast feed) the movie was buried by the NFL play-off game—the highest rated one in five years.

The fact that the telemovie did not get high ratings does not mean that the fans didn't like the movie ... they did. On some web sites, polls show 75% of fans rating the film as "good" or better, and nearly 80% saying they would at least check out a series based on it. But the ratings could only have hurt the movie's chances of ever becoming a series. Unless we, the fans, can help prove to Sci-Fi that the ratings were WRONG.

How can we do this?

Well, if you are like me and want to see more Babylon 5 stories on the air, one of the best things to do is to start writing letters. I have complied as much information as possible with the help from the wonderfully resourceful and helpful, Joseph DeMartino. He provided the list of sponsors and all the contact information you will need. Quotes from him are re-printed with permission.

Many, many, thanks to JoeD for all his efforts in this! Also, please visit the Crusade for Crusade web site as they have lots of good ideas and experience in writing letters. Please contact me if you have any questions or suggestions.

Jump to: general tips · joed's tips · jms post · the list · dvd info
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General Letter Writing Tips
  • Be polite
  • Keep the letter short (no more than one page)
  • Write a handwritten letter in blue ink (if possible) or neatly typed (and spell-checked) on a computer
  • Use a good quality paper and envelope (make it look professional and include a business card if you have one)
  • Hand address the envelopes (if you can't print them)
    • Do not use labels -- they scream 'mass-mailing'
  • What you liked about the Rangers telemovie
  • Why you think a series should be made
  • Which showing of the telemovie you watched (especially important if you watched the football playoff game instead)
  • Personalize each letter you send (no more than a sentences or two is necessary)
  • Include some demographic information such as age and occupation (it gives an indication of your purchasing power which is especially important when writing to sponsors)
  • If you have used or plan to use a product (when sending to sponsors)
  • Conclude your letter with a positive statement
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Joseph DeMartino's Letter Writing Tips
[For example,] I wrote a generic, one-page letter (with fields to insert the short version of the company name where appropriate) and then modified the "commercial/product" section of each to "personalize" it. When I wrote to IBM, for instance, I mentioned that I'm a former IBMer myself, and actually used to work in the very building the letter is going to.

Mostly it is a matter of letting the sponsor know that you noticed their ad, rather than that you were just in the room when it was on. Companies usually only hear about shows or movies that their commercials run on when someone is upset with a show, so this sort of thing is a pleasant surprise to them.

And they generally will let the network know about such communications. Even if it seems that there is an organized effort to get letters sent, the fact that people took the time and trouble to do so counts. (Especially when no company gets the same letter from any two individuals - one reason I discourage people posting "sample" letters. Better that everyone writes their own, honest, letter, even if poorly, than that CDW get fifty "carbon copies" of the same note.)

Will writing these letters make a huge difference? Maybe not. But it can't hurt. Sci-Fi was expecting to get a clear "yes" or "no" "vote" from the ratings of the heavily-advertised first showing at 9 PM Eastern. Because of the football game, they didn't. They have very mixed results from the East and West Coast Feeds and it may not be obvious to them how many people would be interested in a series.

They have a decision to make, and it may take them several weeks to arrive at it. Positive feedback from the sponsors who helped pay for the show can only help push them in "our" direction. Letters from fans - especially those who didn't watch the first showing on the east coast, but would faithfully watch the series - may be the thing that makes the difference. This is a point to stress in both letters to the network and to the sponsors. We really have to hammer home the idea that the football game was a fluke, and the ratings an anomaly. A Rangers series would not be going up against the highest-rated NFL play-off game in five years week after week.

This is something that only we can do. Netter and Straczynski can argue and cajole, but only we can supply Sci-Fi and the sponsors with evidence that there really is interest in this show, and many fans who would have watched the movie's first run except for the football game. Letters mean far more in a case like this than posts on a bulletin board, e-mails or on-line petitions. Companies know how easy those are to set up, and how easily "faked" or inflated. Individual letters, which people took the time to compose and spent the money to send, are taken far more seriously.

Monica has provided you with an almost effortless way to download the full sponsor list and easily create a single master letter. Do it.

Faith Manages,

Joe

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J. Michael Straczynski's Response to the Ratings
ON 1.28.2002, JMS AT B5 SAID:
The fulcrum on which all this now rests is the ratings, which have gotten kinda weirdly skewed.

We heard what we initially thought were disappointing figures, that we'd done a 1.7 when SFC was hoping for a 2.6 or better. It kind of puzzled everybody because the B5 audience is generally pretty reliable.

It became even *more* puzzling when the more detailed figures came in, showing that by quarter-hours, the show *gained viewers* and did not lose them. Meaning folks who came on the show by accident, stayed to watch. It should have been much higher than it was.

Then the final market-by-marked figures came in from the studio, and we had our mystery resolved.

The east coast ratings got hammered by the football game, which was the highest rated such game in something like 5 years. The B5 male demos are pretty much the same as for sports, and we lost heavily to football. So there we did not do well.

By contrast, on the west coast, where the show aired *after* the game had finished, we not only met but *exceeded* SFC's expectations, getting a 3.2 or 3.6 in many markets, which is actually pretty unheard of for a basic cable network.

The problem is that the average, 1.7, is still what's used for advertising. So we have to see if SFC will look past the show getting hammered by a big football event on the East Coast to look at the West Coast figures and see that there is, indeed, a market.

It's in the hands of the TV gods from this point on.

jms

(all message content (c) 2001 by synthetic worlds, ltd.,
permission to reprint specifically denied to SFX Magazine
and don't send me story ideas)

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Rangers Sponsor List
Excel Format UPDATED:  1.27.2002
This should work with most versions of Excel. Just do a "mail merge" in your Word document to speed up the letter generation process.
Text Format UPDATED:  1.27.2002
This is a tab delimited version of the above list. This way you can import it into the database or spreadsheet program of your choice for the "mail merge".

ADDITIONAL MAILING ADDRESS:
Since it also couldn't hurt to write the network, here's that address:

Ms. Bonnie Hammer
President
Sci-Fi Channel
1230 Avenue of the Americas
New York, NY 10020-1513

EMAIL ADDRESSES:
After you have written all your letters, you can continue to show your support by sending an email (follow the same letter writing guidelines) to the following addresses:

program@www.scifi.com
(Goes to SciFi's Programming Department)

b5rangers@www.scifi.com
(Presumably to send feedback about the show directly)

b5ranger@icarus.usanetworks.com
(USA Networks owns SciFi)

BULLETIN BOARD:
Finally, the people at SciFi do read their board posts so drop by and write a positive note about the telemovie and why you want a series:

SciFi.com Bboard
(Try again later if it is down -- it has never been the most stable board system)

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DVD Boxed Set Info
A fairly substantiated rumor is going around the 'net that the first DVD release did well and Warner Brothers is going to go ahead with releasing the rest of the series. It is also almost certain that they will release them as boxed sets instead of a "best of" or individual DVDs. Since you are probably in a letter writing mood, you might want to drop a line about what you want (such as special features, bloopers, interviews, additional unaired scenes, behind-the-scenes footage, etc.) in the next B5 DVDs that will (should) be released.

ON 1.28.2002, JOSEPH DEMARTINO SAID:
I thought as long as you were encouraging people to write letters, you might also list the address for [Douglas Wadleigh]. He's the one that we need to write if we want to request special features, rational packaging and all the other things that will make the DVDs worth owning. Since the first season isn't due until September, this is another area where we might have time to influence a corporation's actions before the decisions are set in stone. Just a thought.

Here's the address:

Douglas Wadleigh
Vice President of Marketing & Special Features
Warner Home Video
4000 Warner Blvd.
Burbank, CA 91522

Regards,

Joe

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Jump to: general tips · joed's tips · jms post · the list · dvd info
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