Ask Rob Thomas Anything: The Netflix Age

Andrew Sullivan —  Mar 13 2014 @ 3:40pm

In this video from the Veronica Mars creator, he appreciates the arrival of Netflix and Amazon to the television business:

Rob’s show Party Down was cancelled after two seasons, and Veronica Mars was cancelled after three, despite unique efforts by fans, such as a campaign to send the head of Warner Brothers 10,000 Mars candy bars as a sign of their support. In a profile of Thomas, Jason Cohen puts the show’s popularity and demise in context:

The show premiered in September 2004, and a certain segment of TV viewers absolutely loved it. “Best. Show. Ever,” wrote Joss Whedon, the creator of Buffy. “I’ve never gotten more wrapped up in a show I wasn’t making. . . . These guys know what they’re doing on a level that intimidates me. It’s the Harry Potter of shows.” Critics also liked the show. Joy Press, of the Village Voice, called it “a fusion of Chinatown and Heathers,” while blogger Alan Sepinwall eventually named it one of the best dramas of the 2000’s, right up there with The Wire, The Sopranos, and Friday Night Lights. … [But d]uring the three seasons it aired, the show generally drew between 2.5 and 3 million people. This put it among the ten least-seen prime-time network shows, and before the fourth season, it was canceled, much to the despair of its fans (they’re known as Marshmallows, a pun based on a famous line in the first episode).

Measured against recent cable hits like AMC’s Breaking Bad, which didn’t top 2.5 million viewers until its fourth season, or Mad Men, which drew just 2.7 million for its most recent season finale, Veronica Mars was practically a smash. But the TV business was a different place seven years ago. In the time since, streaming video, DVDs, and downloads (both legal and illegal) have given high-quality cult shows numerous ways to reach a larger audience and encouraged execs to put a greater premium on patience.

In this next video, Rob weighs in on the plight of shows with small but devoted fanbases:

One year ago this week, Rob launched one of the most successful Kickstarter campaigns of all time in support of a Veronica Mars movie. (Our discussion thread of the innovative, Dish-like project is here.) The movie is coming out in theatrical release and video-on-demand tomorrow. One reader’s looking forward to it:

Thanks for much for “Ask Rob Thomas Anything” (though I lamely declined to submit a question). My love of Veronica is rivaled only by my love of Buffy, and the successful Kickstarter campaign to finance/green-light the movie has been fascinating. Excited to see the movie I helped fund tomorrow. Also, woof.

(Ask Anything Archive)