We all watch Scandal...well for the Scandal. But what is not Scandalous is how Shonda Rhimes sent ABC/Disney a 100 Million Dollar Baby. The explosive relationships that the cast and writers of Scandal have created have millions of us tuned in every Thursday and on Scandal Re-Runs the Rest of the Week!
This Week, May 16th, the Season Finale of Scandal will leave all of us breathless. Have we seen the episode-no. We don't need to see the episode, we know Shonda Rhimes and the amazing writers on Scandal!
Shonda Rhimes is the Ultimate Classy, BlackGirl as the Creator of not one but TWO of the hottest television shows on primetime! Every Thursday she has captured the eyeballs and hearts of 8.3 million viewers and 100 million dollars in advertising revenue. She is a gem.
Shonda is a 43 year old single Mother of two who moves mountains at Disney and takes her children to doctors appointments.
According to Forbes.com
In an age of declining prime-time audiences and equally shaky ad rates, the two shows she created and runs for ABC, Scandal and Grey’s Anatomy, are among the most valuable properties on the small screen today. Together they pull in more than $13 million in advertising for ABC each week–just shy of $300 million a season, or about 5% of the network’s total revenue. That’s not counting tens of millions more for Grey’s syndication or licensing in other countries, which Disney shares with Rhimes’ production company, ShondaLand (FORBES estimates she earned $12 million this year).
But those numbers vastly understate her importance. Since Grey’s debuted in 2005, network TV has taken a battering from every possible direction: cable networks, online media and the hard-to-monetize DVR viewing that has become the norm. There has been a 50% collapse in broadcast TV audience ratings since 2002; programs that once easily pulled 15 million to 25 million viewers now see 12 million or fewer. In 2013 all of the big four took a hit, particularly among coveted 18- to 49-year-old viewers.
As audiences tune out of broadcast, so do advertisers. Cable TV ad spending eclipsed the networks’ in 2011. The result: When Disney acquired Capital Cities/ABC in 1996 for $19 billion, the bulk of that valuation–about $11 billion–was attributable to the ABC Network and its stations. By 2012 ABC’s value had plunged to less than half that, according to research firm Wunderlich Securities. Meanwhile, ESPN –acquired as a small part of the deal–is now worth some $40 billion to Disney by FORBES’ measure.
“Broadcast networks are in a bit of a pickle,” says Dade Hayes, the executive editor of Broadcasting & Cable. “Not only that they’re losing ground in ratings but they’re losing in the sense of cultural primacy and in being at the center of the conversation.”
That makes the talents of Rhimes–and other topflight “showrunners,” as they’re known in the industry–exponentially more important. Each week more than 90% of Grey’s viewers stay tuned for Scandal, which follows at 10 p.m., a time slot it has owned in the ratings since its debut. On Twitter Scandal fans generate a stunning 3,000 tweets a minute during broadcasts.
Among black TV viewers Scandal, the first network drama written and produced by an African-American woman with an African-American woman in the lead role, is even more resonant. According to Nielsen, it’s the highest-rated scripted drama among African-Americans, with 10.1% of black households, or an average of 1.8 million viewers, tuning in.
“What Shonda Rhimes possesses is this extraordinary instinct and compass for what our audience needs,” says Paul Lee, the president of ABC Entertainment Group. And from where he sits it’s impossible to say no–the network credits her worlds with winning it the coveted number one spot in the women’s 18-to-49 demographic in her shows’ time slots. “That Shonda is free and has a huge amount of power to pursue her vision is precisely how the magic happens.”
But magic, as rival Fox can attest, is ephemeral. After dominating prime time for a decade thanks to its American Idol franchise, the show’s sudden decline set off a ratings disaster at the whole network. And while TV’s dependence on the talents of a few hitmakers has existed since the days of Sid Caesar, failures have never been more financially punishing.
So while Rhimes doesn’t downplay her business or cultural clout, she’s savvy enough to temper it. “It’s not like I’ve got this power so I’m going to stomp around doing whatever I want,” she explains. “The power is that the network trusts me.” Says friend Oprah Winfrey: “There’s a seat for everyone at her table. Except ‘No assholes allowed’ is her standing policy. I love her for that.”
Raised in Chicago by a university administrator and a college professor, she attended Dartmouth as an undergrad and later studied screenwriting at USC. Journeyman gigs at Hollywood’s periphery followed, but it was her work on the 1999 HBO movie Introducing Dorothy Dandridge that put Rhimes on the map, followed in quick succession by a variety of scripts–good, bad, but always lucrative–such as the 2002 Britney Spears movie, Crossroads, and the 2004 Anne Hathaway/ Disney team-up, The Princess Diaries 2.
ABC bought her pitch for Grey’s Anatomy in 2003 and set it as a midseason replacement in the spring of 2005. By the end of its first season 20 million viewers were tuning in each week.
“To get anything, any show, past a pilot is a miracle,” says original cast member Sandra Oh. “But to make it ten years is lightning in a bottle. I don’t know who rolled the dice at ABC a decade ago on this incredibly talented young woman. But I’m sure they’re glad they did.”
The finale of Scandal airs Thursday May 16th at 10 PM and we WILL be tuning in!!