Cancelled by the CW in 2009, diehard fans of THE GAME took to Twitter and Facebook to first lobby for the show's return and then for the beloved series to be picked up by another network. Coming a year after GIRLFRIENDS* own cancellation, the loss of THE GAME was another blow for many African American viewers starved for first run programming. When the rumors of the show's return, with production moving to Atlanta, started floating around, fans again took to social media, eagerly trying to suss out if the news was true and, more importantly, to find out when the show would return.
As most know, the show was really coming back and the 4th season debuted early this month (January 11, 2011) to 7.7 million viewers on BET, which are not only the channel's highest ratings in history, they were a light-year leap from the show's 2.1 million average on the CW.
It's rare for any show to hold on to, or even improve on its premiere ratings. So when THE GAME's ratings slipped to 5.9 million for its second week on BET and then to 4.65 this past Tuesday, neither were that alarming. And in those followup episodes, THE GAME was showing strength in the area that now counts most for a show's survival, the key demo of 18-49 (2.8 and 2.3 respectively for the second and third episodes).
First question is, where will the ratings flatline out at? For BET, anything in the high 3 millions, to low 4 millions would be great for them. And if the show can continue to hit 2 or above for the demo, it should have a healthy life.
Second question is, as a local Atlanta PR person pointed out the night of THE GAME's premiere, when will BET do more to interact with the show's very online savvy and active fan base using social media? I'm doubtful that even the most masterful social media engagement plan would have inoculated the show from dropping.
However, full of soapy goodness, I'm sure BET would gain a lot of fan retention, and even fan pickups, if fans could follow a fake fight between Kelly and Jason on twitter. Or, tweet Melanie their advice on how she should handle the Baby Mama drama she's knee deep in.
*THE GAME is a spin-off of GIRLFRIENDS