Rotten Tomatoes‘ Tomatometer is by no means a perfect metric of a film’s quality, but it is a pretty convenient way to get a pulse on the critical buzz surrounding a big-screen project. Now we’ll be able to use that tool on small-screen projects, too.
The site announced today that it would launch a separate “TV Zone” section on Tuesday, just in time for the start of the 2013-2014 season. So if you’ve been wondering whether Mom is worth checking out or Dads is really as bad as it looks, the trusty Tomatometer will be able to help. More details on the new endeavor after the jump.
In many respects, the move is an obvious one. “Why not?” responded editor-in-chief Matt Atchity when asked why the site wanted to expand into television. “TV, creatively, is where it’s at right now. There’s so much good TV and we want to be part of that conversation.”
For the most part, the TV Tomatometer will work much the same way that the movie Tomatometer does. “We’re aggregating the reviews the same way we’ve always been,” Atchity explained. Shows will be designated “Fresh” or “Rotten” depending on whether or not 60% or more of their reviews are positive.
Rotten Tomatoes plans to cover all new scripted series this season, as well as shows that have aired over the past four years and been covered by major media outlets. (Reality shows won’t be tracked at all.) The Tomatometer will take into account reviews of entire seasons, not individual episodes. For older shows like Mad Men, the Rotten Tomatoes team will “go back to the beginning” and tally up the reviews from earlier seasons.
Initial scores of new shows will be based on early reviews, which typically cover just the pilot or the first few episodes sent to critics. That poses a potential problem. Opinions of TV series tend to evolve as the show goes on, sometimes in very dramatic fashion.
But Rotten Tomatoes plans to keep up by updating the scores as more recaps and reviews emerge. ”If reviews go extremely negative then we may change it as the season goes on,” Atchity explained, using NBC’s Smash as an example. ”People liked it in the beginning then critics seemed to turn on it.”
Rotten Tomatoes hopes to see their TV Tomatometer scores become as ubiquitous as their movie Tomatometer scores. Its eventual goal is to monetize its database and provide links to purchase the shows. The networks don’t seem to mind — ABC’s Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. is sponsoring the TV Tomatometer’s launch.