It's been tough for American Dad! lately. The show, despite critical acclaim, continues to slip in the ratings, and that's not even the worst part. American Dad's original network, Fox, quietly cancelled the show last year. Most of the time, that would mean the end of the series, but TBS quickly picked up the rights for a new season, which is set to debut on Oct. 20.
However, the first episode has already been released on YouTube by TBS a week early. It's not just a preview, or a teaser either; it's the full episode. If you didn't know about it, don't worry, because TBS hasn't made any announcement about any sort of online premiere whatsoever.
It's a curious move on TBS' part. There was absolutely no marketing for the online premiere, no advertising, nothing. Most networks would make a huge deal out of a show premiering early, but it seems that TBS is content with word-of-mouth marketing. The problem is, word-of-mouth doesn't seem to be working: there's still no major buzz about the episode, and as of this writing, the video has received only 36,000 views. That's a lot for a family vacation video or a blooper reel, but for a major television show, that's nothing.
Back when streaming TV shows was still a new idea, Neilson ratings didn't factor in online views. That has since changed, though YouTube was only brought on in recent months. YouTube simply isn't known for streaming TV shows, and without an audience like Hulu's, it's strange that TBS would even bother putting the episode online in the first place, especially when people can see it ad-free.
The only real reason TBS would put the episode online for free would be to build excitement for the show's move to a new network, but if there's no marketing behind it, what's the point? People clearly don't know that the first episode is online, and that cannot bode well for TBS. Perhaps there was a campaign planned that didn't work out, or maybe it was just a goof to upload the video early. Either way, it just doesn't make a lot of sense on the network's part.
"Blonde Ambition," while not technically the season premiere of American Dad, is the first episode that TBS will air. If you don't feel like watching it on YouTube, the episode will debut (on television) Oct. 20.