Monday, April 14, 2014

The Joys of Like-O-Meters

Lauren Davis writes:

How useful are animation focus groups when deciding whether to re-tool a cartoon series? According to this behind-the-scenes comic by Green Lantern: The Animated Series showrunner Giancarlo Volpe, the answer is: not very. ...

And Mr. Volpe draws. ...

I wouldn't say that testing and focus groups provide no information or guidance, but corporate entities rely on them way too much.

Disney TVA/Disney Channel (to use but one example) religiously focus group and test animated shows long before they ever make it to air. If the test scores are high enough, then the half-hour pilots/animatics/whatever get green-lit to series. If it bombs or under-performs with the tots and their "Like-O-Meters", the half-hour ends up in the ash can of failed pilots.

The tyranny of five-year-olds. It's wonderful that artists' destinies and livelihoods rest in their grimy little hands.


Unknown said...

I agree wholeheartedly! The audience never knows what they want. It seems like new shows never have a fair chance at finding an audience. If they aren't an instant smash, they get canned, and lose their chance of finding an active audience.

Justin said...

There are two parts to this: the audience screening, and the focus group afterwards. The best gauge of how something works is the audience reaction during the screening. Did they laugh at the appropriate times, seem scared, bored, engaged, etc.

Then the focus group afterwards should be pre-scripted in order to eliminate moderator bias. They should be used to validate observations during the screening and provide more concrete data points. They should not be used to guide development of the show by asking what the audience wants, but to validate what works and what doesn't work.

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