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Will Kid Nation Controversy Lead To Blockbuster Ratings Or Cancellation?

August 25, 2007 03:35 PM by Joe Blackmon

Kidnation_fireThe new CBS reality TV series Kid Nation is receiving the type of
controversy-driven publicity that would make Michael Moore turn green
with envy.  A parent has complained about conditions bordering on abuse
and neglect, the New Mexico Attorney General’s office is investigating
whether state laws were broken, and the Smoking Gun has published the
show’s contract with parents.

While in most industries, bad press like Kid Nation is receiving is something to be avoided that’s not the case in the entertainment industry.  The only bad press in the entertainment industry is usually no press at all.  So will all the attention that Kid Nation is receiving lead to blockbuster ratings?

In most cases, a little controversy is almost always beneficial in the ratings.  With dozens of new TV shows launching, people are prone to tune into the ones that are making headlines if for nothing else but to see what all the fuss is about. 

Of course being the center of controversy usually only buys a show an audience for once episode and where the ratings go from there depend on how good the actual show is.  If Kid Nation winds up being an exciting and well-produced show, then it may be able to leverage the initial controversy into strong overall ratings for the series.  If Kid Nation winds up being boring and poorly produced, then the viewers will abandon it with the first episode.

And even though controversy can drive initial viewers, it’s no guarantee of blockbuster ratings.  When Survivor Cook Islands decided to divide castaways by race, it generated a wealth of attention in the press.  However, even though Survivor Cook Island performed well against other shows in its time period, the series didn’t exactly see an enormous increase in ratings over previous seasons. 

One big down side of controversy for a show is that there is a fine line between controversy that can drive viewers and controversy that can get a show canceled before it even airs.  While there were plenty of protests over the concept of Survivor Cook Islands when it was announced, the show had a history and a solid fan following.  There were enough people that trusted that the shows producers weren’t going to create a show that in any way condoned or promoted racism because the show had a good history.

With a new show like Kid Nation, viewers don’t have any pre-established level of trust over what producers might do.  With a new show that generates a great deal of controversy, it is often easier for a network to cave into public demand to cancel the show.  For instance, ABC pulled “Welcome To The Neighborhood” before it even aired a single episode.  As media and public outrage continues to build, will the same fate be in store for Kid Nation?

The answer is probably not, even though it’s always a possibility.  The Kid Nation show is attracting so much attention that it’s probably got the best bet of making it of any of the new CBS shows.  CBS has also shown their willingness to not pull the plug on a show just because of controversy in the past.  Plus, the fact that many of the sensationalistic media headlines center around what the contract says parents can’t sue the show over and not what actually happened on the show, it kind of hints that the most controversial elements of the show might turn out to be a couple minor injuries.

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5 Comments »

5 Responses to “Will Kid Nation Controversy Lead To Blockbuster Ratings Or Cancellation?”

  1. danys betts Says:
    August 25th, 2007 at 7:26 pm

    I think this show was a good idea. our children need to know how to take care of themselves n they get to see how it would b if they HAD to fend for themselves. if we as parents raised our children correctly then they will have no big problems in life. I would sign my 3 boys up for this show in a heartbeat, bc I know I have given them the tools to make it n to help others make it. it shows children how to survive in a world other than selling drugs n robbing places to survive. maybe some parents need to stop crying about this show n go to places that arent so “high on the economical & financial” scale n see wht the children there deal with. its not abuse that these children are going thru on this show. its a learning experience, so we can see wht we taught them, to see wht theyve learned, n see how they interact with others when adults arent around. the only thing that might b hard for them is when n if they get hurt (I am sure their is adults to help in that situation) or if they get home sick, n in that case they can get comfort from ppl their own age. it might just surprise some ppl on how well these children do. we cant shelter our children forever, we have to trust in wht we teach them, n it would b good to see if they take it n wht they do with it. I dont see nothing wrong with it. if u have a problem with it, then dont put ur children on the show n dont watch it. let the rest of us enjoy it n make up our own minds.

  2. danys betts Says:
    August 25th, 2007 at 7:39 pm

    wht if one day something happens majorly bad to us, n our children have to fend for themselves? wht then? this show just might teach kids to work together n take wht we as parents taught them n use it to survive n to help other children survive. u never know when something like that might happen. I thnk its good. if u are a good parent n u taught ur children well then they will take that n use it, n help other kids use it as well. dont underestimate kids, they might b small n u think they are helpless but they arent. they do listen, they do take in wht they see n hear, n they do use it. they need to know how to interact n help each other out, in times of need, n to help grow, n communicate, they need to know how to work thru hard times, learn to compromise in tough situations, work it out, n I think on this show that they will get a chance to do it. like I said b4 if u dont like it dont sign ur kids up for it n dont watch it but dont tell everyone else wht to think. bc not all of us think its a bad show or idea. my boys are 14,16,16(almost 17) n I would gladly sign them up. producers if u read this my email is devil_queen_biatch14@yahoo.com feel free to contact me. my boys are well mannered, well educated, n have been taught the good n bad of almost everything I can teach them in life, wht we cant teach our children is how they will deal with things, that comes from them n the tools we gave them as they grow into their own. so trust in your children to do wht u know u taught them in life, they just might surprise u. I am a great mother n my husband a great father, so I trust we raised our boys to b great young men,that have the tools to make it in this world if something happens to us. why are ppl so afraid that these kids on the show werent raised the same way? ppl are afraid of wht they dont know, n afraid to trust kids to do wht they dont think they are ready to do if they have to…let them surprise u. let them have this expierence. let them tell us for once if they think this is a good idea, good show, good experience. the world is tuff, its not mayberry..its hard so if u shelter them they will never make it. teach them, let them live something like this. its a good show n idea.

  3. Sam Elledge Says:
    August 27th, 2007 at 2:46 am

    I’m sorry, but I can not see how this show is anything more than shameless propaganda and the exploitation of kids for ratings!

    Okay…so kids do eventually need to learn a valuable word like ‘responsibility’. I have my own doubts about some approaches being taken in the Public Education System of today. And with the raising of two kids, I sincerely have an invested interest in making certain that my kids will be ready for the world that awaits them once they leave the safety of this nest…

    But shoving an 8 year old behind a stove and telling him/her to prepare breakfast, lunch, and dinner? For 40 others?! And to do it because no Adult will help you (although I’m sure there were a number of the adults there holding the Boom Microphones and Cameras in the kids’ faces)???

    Would anyone out there PLEASE care to inform me of what educational value THAT holds… for an 8 year old?! Because I assure you had these events been unfolding anywhere else outside the prevue of CBS and the Reality TV Industry, I’m certain DFS agents would swarm the scene just moments after learning of ‘poor defenseless children being forced to work such situations and conditions’. The story would make world headlines within the hour, and Chris Hansen would follow merrily along with Camera Crew in tow.

    Oh…But there are certain people yelling about how these kids signed up for this venture (of their own free will, mind you), and that that fact should simply answer the justification behind this programs’ existence. With these kids proclaiming proudly how that ghost town movie set is their ‘world’, that everything will turn out just peachy keen. Leave it to the kids, adults – because they need to prove themselves!

    And then three of them consume bleach because another kid mixed it into their drinks!

    Way to go, Justifiers! Your point is well made!

    This program has NOTHING to do with training kids about real life. Even if it did, SHOULD it be done? Looking back, my childhood seems to have flashed by so quickly. I don’t know about you, but when adulthood hit me between the eyes, I found myself wanting to go back. Back to those fun filled days of being an eight year old when all I had to worry about was my homework, in what new way I was going to torment my younger sisters that day, and if the networks were going to pre-empt my Saturday morning cartoons for some stupid Golf-ing show…

    But of course, all of this is for the kids own good. I mean, they’re getting paid for it, right?

    **Rolls Eyes**

    Final Comments: These kids will have plenty of time to be adults once they become adults. CBS doesn’t have to push us to the TV screens each night by having us endure the torment of watching 8 year olds being brought face to face with the riggers of day to day adult life. By allowing this kind of program to even continue is opening the door to some rabbit hole that I fear leads only to more harm then good…

  4. Hunter Strickland Says:
    September 8th, 2007 at 3:37 pm

    I’m actually of an age that would be eligible for this show, 14, and I believe that it is a great idea. I do think that those who condone cbs’ “negligence” are missing the entire point of the show. The point of the show wasn’t to make child actors of them, it was to simply let them do what they do usually, except not to have an external mediator, no one to go “crying to.” This helped them grow and learn, and provides some insight to our own society. The only thing I ask is not to watch this show and not think of it as a cute representation of innocent views and with the same mindset that doesn’t give any gravity to their opinions. As for those who say CBS isn’t trying to make moral viewpoints with this show, I will assure you that the creator didn’t come up with this idea as a way to get rich, it would have been morphed that way by producers, but there was actual thought behind its creation. But it hasn’t even aired, so what do I know…just keep and open mind folks.

  5. Tonya Norton Says:
    November 8th, 2007 at 5:46 pm

    Tought I would toss in my 2 cents… We watch the show every week. I think it is great. I have a 15 yr old, wish I could have put her in it! I have not seen any abuse. I don’t know what you people are talking about. I have not seen one child do anything that I would not have asked my child to do at home. Even starting at age 8 she was helping me clean, cook and do yard work. That child that was burnt cooking, the way the show had it she was cooking to make money for her self, not cooking to feed the other kids when that happened. I am embarraed that, that child is from my state! And the bleach that was drank, as bad as it sounds, that could have happened at someones house as a bad prank. I know it was horrible but it could happen anywhere.

    Anyway, I think its a good idea. Maybe not for everyones kids but for mine, yes. Kids aren’t growing up too fast. All they do now days is play video games and watch TV. Atleast they are out getting exercise!

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