CBS revives Jericho after grassroots viewer effort

LOS ANGELES: CBS Television Network last week nixed cancellation plans for TV show Jericho, thanks to a grassroots fan campaign powered by peanuts.

LOS ANGELES: CBS Television Network last week nixed cancellation plans for TV show Jericho, thanks to a grassroots fan campaign powered by peanuts.

Once-betrayed fans now praise CBS for resurrecting the show; the network is encouraging their continued mobilization in order to bolster series viewership.

When CBS announced plans to discontinue the post-apocalyptic drama at the end of this season, fans took to the Internet with petitions and pleas for its speedy return. Inspired by a Jericho story line, they also expressed their ire by sending 40,296 pounds of peanuts via NutsOnline.com to CBS execs in New York and LA.

On Wednesday, after two weeks of e-mails and excessive nut deliveries, CBS responded by ordering seven episodes of Jericho for mid-season next year - "with the potential for more" if viewership grows, the network said in an online letter to the fan community.

"We will count on you to rally around the show, to recruit new viewers with the same grassroots energy," the letter said.

"We definitely listened to our audience in this situation," said Chris Ender, CBS SVP of communications. The campaign, he said, compelled the network to reconsider cancellation by both effectively showing fan betrayal and also displaying that viewers "watched it in a lot of ways," including online and on TiVo - ways for which Nielsen ratings "don't tell the whole story."

Now, Ender said, "we can form sort of a marketing partnership with [Jericho's] large and engaged fan base" to drive heightened attention to the show.

The campaign's success demonstrates that "the old media has got to recognize the new media," said Jeff Knoll, the Oakville, Toronto-based city council member who led the fan campaign from his desktop computer, sending "nutty press kits" to consumer media, and placing "Save Jericho" ads in entertainment industry trades.

"Maybe this is the revolution, so to speak, of viewers," he added. "You've got to count us."

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