– Thoughts on Strategy and Management

Strategy: Raising the „right“ question(s) meets STARGATE SG 1

An important issue in order to develop a strategy or a strategic objective is raising the right question(s).

To proof this I would like to use an example: You are in Berlin, Germany (your current position) with your car (company) and want to go to a new place (your desired corporate future). There are a lot of interesting cities in Europe.
You choose Vienna. According to your (strategic) plan you decide to travel by car (your strategic way to achieve your objective) since it gives you the best flexibility in terms of time management and luggage. You decide to travel on county road in order to avoid traffic jams on the highway, using GPS based travel guide (tactics). You are very successful and achieve Vienna within your expected time frame and with all your luggage.
In Vienna you discover that you prefer French cuisine and that you are in the wrong city. But your tactics were great…..

This problem is often illustrated with this statement: Doing the things right vs. doing the right things.

That sounds easy…but in practice it is very hard to find the right question(s) and to do the right things.
A couple of days ago I discovered that one of my and my wife’s favourite TV shows (STARGATE SG1) is going to end. The reason might be that the number of viewers has declined from 2,55 million to 1,95 million. That makes a decline of 23 %, a figure that would make every TV station think twice. Hence NBC (Sci Fi channel) decided to end this TV show after season 10.

After this announcement a wave of fans started measures to convince NBC, Sci Fi and MGM management team to keep the STARGATE SG 1 show running. These measures include websites, e-mail campaigns and an internet based viewer petition panel. In order to call for support some fans created excellent video clips.

All measures have two objectives: a) to motivate supporters and to canalize viewer support in order (b) to convince the TV station and MGM to continue the SG 1 show.

This might be a good idea, but unfortunately is does not raise the right questions. In the core of this issue (of cancelling the show) we can find management disbeliefs concerning profits. After 200 shows in 10 seasons (more than Star Trek or the X-files) you might get the impression that the product life cycle of this show has come to an end. To cancel the show is one option. The campaign against this is an option, too.
For those who want to keep SG 1 alive and running I would recommend to rethink their focus and their questions. Ideas might be a product innovation. What do I mean? Well, the suggested I-Tunes shows and DVD productions are options….but actually not appropriate for this content. I see two reasons: (a) STARGATE started in the theatres in 1994, hence it should “end” in the theatres. (b) There are 9 (!) STAR TREK movies, why is there no STARGATE movie after this amazing TV show?

My recommendations:
– Do not only protest against the cancellation of the TV show, since it has been proofed, that the number of viewers is declining…
– Motivate and organize existing and potential viewer opinions all over the world (WE WANT TO SEE STARGATE SG1 IN THE THEATRE!)….You have to proof that there is economic fundament to make a movie for the theatre.
STARGATE SG1 has actually all what it takes: a unique selling position, a brand, it has got its own positioning. CREATING A SG1 MOVIE – is product INNOVATION as well!

….there is just one item left: the demand for it….Hence: ORGANIZE THE DEMAND FOR AN SG1 MOVIE!

The strategic “right” question would be: Are you prepared to spend 9 bucks at the theatres’ office to see a STARGATE SG 1 movie?

(If we create the demand than all other “minor” problems can be fixed (e.g. a great script and some “little” funding”)


  1. Oh, my, you have so much wrong information in your post here, it’s strange. Unfortunately before proceeding with any of the lower portion of the things that you wrote here, there’s already a problem in your premise, so we will need to just deal with that first because all your ‘conclusions’ are based on that weakened info. Whatever you say below that, that may or may not be apropos, one can deal with that later, but you’ll need to reassess and redo it all with the right premise first.

    And the item is, Stargate was absolutely not cancelled for ratings. Ratings for Stargate SG1 were UP, but that’s even an aside. The more extensive point that it is important to communicate to you is that they are NOT emphasizing ratings at all in their decisions at Scifi in order to bring on, or cancel programming. First of all, only 2 people cancelled SG1 –> Mark Stern, and Bonnie Hammer. They made the decision, however questionable it was. These are also the same 2 who just purchased and will air a show called LUKE 2.0. LUKE 2.0 you ask? Yes, it’s the new show that they will be airing to you. You will find out soon. Scifi will be adding it to their schedule and you’ll find out about it in about a month. What is it, you ask? Well, it’s a show that SciFi JUST BOUGHT, and will air to you, and the show was previously dumped by another station. Why? For low ratings. So we have a case of Scifi JUST BUYING and paying for a series that already had a history of being dumped for low ratings. So if low ratings mean cancellation, why would they just buy and pay for a show that just got canned for low ratings. Hmm. Ok, only 1 example you say? Hmm. There’s this other show, you may have heard of it: STAR TREK: ENTERPRISE. Scifi just bought it. They will be airing it to you shortly. This show was cancelled on another station. Why? Due to low ratings.

    Battlestar Galactica, the darling child of NBC/Scifi. 3.2 rating in June. 1.4 rating in October. Do your little math you did above on That one. Do you envision NBC/Scifi cancelling that this week? Hmm. Hardly.

    Now, let’s get to some really popular things in the ratings that NBC/SciFi is paying money for and airing to you, because you know these are the HIGHEST RATED things on TV! Wow! People rush home after work, leave early, form clubs, etc, just to watch… FrankenFish.

    Yes, we all know that one was a ratings blockbuster. And NBC/Scifi invests money in that to produce it, millions of dollars. Scoring the film, On location work, building sets, catering for all the actors, hiring extras, script writers, production trucks, editing, foley, grips, bestboys, camera equipment, film developing, editing, paying cgi effects houses for the cheesy animation, cinematographers, camera operators, lighting, model building, makeup, … so dont reply back something about these being cheap to produce, they cost in the millions of dollars. Cheaper than SciFi pays for Stargate. Yes that’s right. SciFi pays only about 770K for each ep of Stargate, because MGM pays 2/3rds of the production costs, and Scifi only pays 1/3rd. So these B-movies SciFi produces cost MORE than Stargate was costing them. MGM makes it back on DVD sales. But Scifi channel makes all their money back on the cost of Stargate SG1 on commercials. In addition to that, Stargate MADE scifi channel. They can run commercials 24/7 and reap the ongoing cash benefits because advertisers put ads on in the 1st place due to Stargate, not because of FrankenFish, or SS DoomTrooper.

    Look, let’s pretend an AD SALES person at NBC Scifi calls a potential customer like AMEX in order to get them into an Ad buy on Scifi channel. 1 option: SciFi adsales person says to AMEX: “Hi! How would you like to buy ads during STARGATE? Starring Richard Dean Anderson?” AMEX: “ohh, yeah, I’ve seen that show, that’s pretty good, and that’s the guy that was in MacGyver or something, right?? Yeah, that sounds good. Let us check on it and I think we’ll do that.” Or OPTION 2: SciFi adsales person says to AMEX: Hi! We’d like to entice you into spending 1 million dollars to buy ads on our channel. Your commercials for American Express will run all through our extremely popular show about a 15-FOOT TALL NAZI! How about it? AMEX: “click.”

    SciFi adsales person:”Hmm… I didn’t even get to tell them about MAN-SQUITO, our scifi original production about a man who turns into a…well, you know.”

    Scifi CONTINUES to spend money, and air things such as MAMMOTH! A show about a big wooly mammoth that is also a Vampire. oh, yeah, and also an alien too. These are all shows that NBC/Scifi is paying for and continuing to air. Do you think these things get 20.5 ratings? Do you see thousands of websites of Fan Fiction about BOA VERSUS PYTHON? Are there sites full of pictures, avatars, banners, forum posts screaming “WHEN WILL MAMMOTH be on again!!?” or conventions around the country for the cast & crew of PumpkinHead?

    You’ll be getting THREE of those from SciFi channel by the way. 3 Pumpkin Heads. 1, 2, 3. and a very special hallmark cards moment for you in… Pumpkinhead: Love Hurts. I heard MGM say that Pumpkinhead was one of their Strongest show properties right up there with the James Bond franchise. Oh, no, wait, that was STARGATE.

    Now another thing you need to understand about this ratings thing is, that these are NICHE channels. This is cable. We are not talking about the general variety broadcast channels here. We are talking about things like the FOOD channel, GOLF network, HISTORY, BRAVO, and SCIFI channel. It is a niche channel. If these channels were all about ratings, then they would be plopping things like AMERICAN IDOL onto the GOLF channel if they were just about getting ratings. However this defeats the purpose of the whole channel, and pisses off the current dedicated viewers. You don’t put SEX & THE CITY or SOPRANOS or PORN onto the children’s channel to get ratings. These channels are MEANT for a certain type of programming, and these network corporations OWN a whole spread of channels in order to distribute viewers across many diversified lines. NBC Universal owns USA Channel, BRAVO, CNBC, MSNBC, Telemundo, the latin channel, and all kinds of other things in their portfolio. Why have a Lationo channel if you are going to put english not spanish language programs on it, just to get ratings? If people were trying to get ratings, then they would put OPRAH onto ESPN to jack up the ratings. Or StockMarket news onto the FOOD channel.

    Right now you are thinking inside your head, what, that would make no sense, of course they are going to keep to the themes of the channels and not sell out, and those channels are not meant for those other things. But this is EXACTLY what Mark Stern & Bonnie Hammer did! They put contrived fake ECW Pro Wrestling onto the channel meant for Science Fiction, because they didn’t have room in the lineup on their USA network channel. This irked al the people that had been dedicated scifi viewers for Years! Even so much as phoning up their cable and sat companies when scifi channel was not even slated to be included in their packages and ASKING for it.

    So in any case, the Scifi channel in their infinite wisdom of these 2 people, Mark Stern & Bonnie Hammer, has not made the top 10 in the nielsen cable ratings since Stargate was cancelled. Even despite all their fake blog marketing, promos, BSG webisodes, marketing efforts, cancellations, lineup changes, and dumping wrestling onto the channel. So there you have the results of these 2 masterminds.

    And in conclusion, if you just had read what Stern himself said, it is not due to ratings. Go look it up. So without even addressing all your other conclusions you came to in the rest of your post, you’ll need to reset your premise. And when we get to your other items, you will need to add into your ‘options’ the option to fire Mark Stern & Bonnie Hammer and get them Out of there so that it will fix a BROAD range of things, not just have millions of people going through hoops and around corners trying to get iTunes versions of their favorite shows that have had to be re-tooled as movies or such, but Get those einsteins out of there that have affected Millions of dedicated fans, not just stargate but Mark Stern & Bonnie Hammer cancelled people’s shows like FARSCAPE, FIREFLY, Andromeda, Serenity, Babylon5, and then put on fake Wrestling, reality shows where people pin a towel onto their back, screech like a monkey and run around like superheroes, man-thing, Snakehead Terror, a re-hash of Frankenfish, Leeches-the one that shows fake plastic brown things attached to young teenage boys in the locker room, and yet another one about a Sasquatch. All got high ratings in the Nielsen’s I’m sure of it. Q.E.D.

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  3. Wow. In reference to Guest’s highly illuminating vent/rant, that’s exactly why I’ve never had cable (I’ve only seen SG-1 on DVD, syndication, or if I’m really jonesing for a new episode, I have to admit that I’ve resorted to reading fan transcripts on the web). Most programming, even on broadcast is just mushy brainrot filler – you’d have to be high to get any enjoyment from it. Books people. They’re great, and you can even get them from your local library for free. They’re the wave of the future.

    Anyway, as Guest stated, ratings aren’t necessarily connected to whether or not a show is cancelled. There are just too many muddlemen (and apparently, muddleladies) clogging up the decision making process. We should just stick computers in charge – seriously. Delivery formats like YouTube and to a lesser degree iTunes are impartial. Netflix is another good example. There is almost no filler cruft compared to TV, and the whole point is to get exactly what you want, when you want it, how you want it. The problem is that the infrastructure still needs to grow – downloading or streaming a file isn’t always reliable, not everyone has access, and not everyone has highspeed internet.

    I think that traditional broadcast/cable/sat, especially niche channels (other than news), are nearing the end of their run. What’s more niche than YouTube? YouBetcha. My dad watches clips of silent films, my godson watches homebrew Star Wars parodies. You can always find something that suits your taste in 30 seconds or less. A couple of years ago an odd hybrid appeared, WebTV. It was an interesting idea, but like Wiwaxia in the Cambrian, it couldn’t survive. Who wants to surf to web and read large blobs of text on a grainy TV from a couch? However, restrict the functionality of a web connected TV to just a new delivery format like iTunes, and you’ve got content heaven. Ah, slathered with content we actually like…we’ll be pigs in mud!

    If cable dies an ugly death, no one will care – it’s the content that matters, and content creators will be subject to the evolutionary pressures of a directly democratic demographic. Good content will thrive, and even crap content will subsist on meager crumbs (there’s no accounting for taste, and there really is a market for everything. Even I’ve rented Boa vs. Python under the misguided assumption of “how bad could it be?” – it set the bar astonishingly low, but just seeing how low had some entertainment value).

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  5. This post, however off-topic it may be, is about Internet freedom. \”Network Neutrality\” — the First Amendment of the Internet — ensures that the public can view the smallest blog just as easily as the largest corporate Web site by preventing Internet companies like AT&T from rigging the playing field for only the highest-paying sites.

    But Internet providers like AT&T, Verizon and Comcast are spending millions of dollars lobbying Congress to gut Net Neutrality. If Congress doesn\’t take action now to implement meaningful Net Neutrality provisions, the future of the Internet is at risk.

    In the end game, only large companies will afford domains if the communications monopolies have their way with this. This of course isnt new news, but its coming to a head and blogs like this one will be a ghosttown unless all of us figure it our pretty darn quick. I wont post any links, but advise that if you value the internet, and blogs likw this one, that you search Google for \”Network Neutrality\” and educate yourself on this issue as it effects all of us.


    Note from Eddie:


    When I received this post I was a little bit confused. The URl was a link to an online-shop for cosmetics. Hence URl and post content did not fit together. After some “research” in search engines I discovered that this (the post content) seems to be an important issue in the United States…and it might be an important topic for other countries as well. Hence I decided to change the shop-URl to the correct URl.


    Save the Net

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