Is Thomas Gibson's #NoHotchNoWatch Really What Is Hurting 'Criminal Minds'

Kim McLendon

Is the Thomas Gibson twitter protest #NoHotchNoWatch really the force sinking Criminal Minds ratings? To answer this question one needs to consider basic math and a bit of cause and effect.

Thomas Gibson fans started #NoHotchNoWatch as an outgrowth of movements to #SupportThomasGibson. Gibson's fans wanted to show love and solidarity for the star of their favorite show after he was terminated.

Criminal Minds was targeted, but the decision to fire Thomas Gibson goes all the way up the CBS and ABC corporate ladder, which makes their cause tougher. Does CBS or ABC really care if tens of thousands, maybe even hundreds of thousands of Thomas Gibson fans are protesting by boycotting one of their many shows? Do they even care if Criminal Minds loses millions of viewers?

#NoHotchNoWatch and other Thomas Gibson fans on twitter were avid fans, not just regular viewers. Criminal Minds was in most cases their favorite show. If Gibson had not been fired, they would still be watching the show, so the prime precursor to the ratings drop is not the #NoHotchNoWatch twitter protest, but rather the dismissal of Thomas Gibson.

#NoNotchNoWatch is just the tip of the iceberg for Criminal Minds, and for CBS and ABC if they continue to think of actors as interchangeable parts. #NoHotchNoWatch is a warning sign of greater problems for CBS and ABC.

If CBS and ABC had not fired Thomas Gibson from Criminal Minds, none of this would be happening. It isn't just a boycott it is widespread dissatisfaction with the show without Thomas Gibson, among millions of fans, not just those aware of the Twitter protest.

Further, boycotts generally lose steam after six months or less. The Guardian offers the example a boycott of french wine. Sales quickly dropped by 26 percent, but within six months sales returned to normal. This is fairly typical of most boycotts.

Thomas Gibson fans, however, don't seem to be going away. #NoHotchNoWatch is a growing movement which accounts for a mere fraction of the ratings lost. The majority are silently dissatisfied former viewers of Criminal Minds.

Criminal Minds ratings are steadily declining since the departures of Thomas Gibson and Shemar Moore, after 11 years of relative stability. Criminal Minds ratings have dropped significantly and progressively in Season 12.

The Criminal Minds, season premiere drew 8.924 million viewers 1.86 of which were ages 18 – 49. Though down a bit from last season, the premiere ratings were not that bad. Last Wednesday, March 1, the show was viewed by only 6.5 million people. Only 1.28 of those were in the 18 – 49 age group according to TV Series Finale.

Since Thomas Gibson was fired from Criminal Minds and Shemar Moore left, ratings keep getting worse. It seems doubtful that about 2.5 million people are actively boycotting the show on Twitter, considering that is about a third of the viewers from last season. Remember that the majority of viewers are not going to be avid fans, looking Thomas Gibson up on Google and posting about the situation continually on Twitter.

Are Thomas Gibson's avid fans causing Criminal Minds ratings to drop? Well, to a point perhaps, but overt boycotting is only part of the story. Most people are not going to keep up a boycott of something they enjoy for this long. However, if they don't enjoy it anymore, they will just stop watching. That is the bigger danger. Carter Matt explains their position.

"We do think that Gibson's exit is a factor, but it's wrong to say that every viewer who's left the show is doing so simply because of that. The same goes for those thinking that Gibson's exit is no factor at all when it likely is."

If Thomas Gibson's fans' #NoHotchNoWatch boycott is working that well to bring down Criminal Minds' ratings, for this long it is highly unusual. After all, most boycotts play out quickly and some boycotts, many in fact, have an opposite effect. Freakonomics quotes boycott expert Daniel Diermeier on the subject of the boycott of Chick-fil-A and countermovement to support Chick-fil-A.

"And that led then to the curious phenomenon of what's called a 'buycott,' which was that people were encouraged and participated in that particular countermovement to actually buy more chicken."

Boycotts can be risky, and they are rarely effective anymore. The Chick-fil-A boycott was worse than ineffective. Though different geographical areas were impacted in different ways, the overall impact on Chick-fil-A was a 2.2 percent increase.

Will #NoHotchNoWatch be successful in bringing back Thomas Gibson or getting a public apology from two major networks? Kellogg Northwestern offered this advice to protesters starting boycotts.

"Activists seeking to create corporate change are partly dependent on the conditions of the company they're targeting. It has to be vulnerable to change to have any transformative effect... Companies that have experienced a decline in public reputation are more susceptible to boycotts."


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Thomas Gibson was fired by CBS and ABC both of whom own part of Criminal Minds. The Criminal Minds cast and crew, even the producers had no say in the matter according to most reports.

Can #NoHotchNoWatch get their attention, and let them know what is wrong with their show? Do the networks even care? According to Kellogg Northwestern, it isn't the lost revenue that hurts the corporation but rather the harm to their reputation with the public.

Can Thomas Gibson fans at #NoHotchNoWatch convince CBS and ABC they need to rehire Thomas Gibson to Criminal Minds?

[Featured Image by Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images]