If you’ve ever received an invitation by Television Preview to attend a television pilot screening event, be warned. I’ll be upfront in this article in telling you that Television Preview is a bait and switch marketing ploy. Although the company takes no money from participants some would say the misrepresentation qualifies it to be a scam. The company, which has also been known as New TV Preview, is a division of RSC the Quality Measurement Company.
Based on my personal experience with Television Preview and the research I’ve done after attending a screening, I’ll show you how the company dupes unsuspecting participants for its marketing purposes.
I first learned of Television Preview from a relative who received an invitation in the mail to attend one of their screening events. She was offered four tickets to invite others along to watch a couple of pilot shows. We were told that we would “evaluate not-yet-released television material that is being considered for nationwide broadcast.” There would also be commercials. We were told that $250 in prizes would be offered at the event.
I attended the event with three relatives one Sunday evening. The screening was held in a conference room at a local hotel. We were told to dress comfortable and for the most part, the participants were dressed appropriately.
After waiting in line to enter the room, we were sat in four sections of seating, each in front of a large flat panel television. The televisions weren’t large enough for those in the back rows to watch comfortably. I was already uneasy about the whole experience and seeing the size of the televisions was even more disappointed as we sat toward the back of our section. Imagine 175 people sharing four television screens.
As we were seated a woman handed us some survey paperwork to fill out that had various household products such as toothpaste, toilet paper and dog food. Each type of item was separated by category and we were told to circle the item we liked the best. Thinking that we were there to watch television previews I wondered why they would be asking us about household products in a survey. The paperwork would be used to draw names or prizes so everyone filled out the surveys. Perhaps our answers would influence the prizes we were to win.
A man hosting the event drew the first three names for prizes and the winners were given cards. The prizes were to be mailed to the recipients homes. It was not announced what they won though even when someone asked aloud.
Now it was time for the television pilots. The first was the show Soulmates, a pilot I later found out was from the year 1990. It was about a psychiatrist who runs into people from her past life. It starred Kim Raver, who we later come to better know from the show Lipstick Jungle. The show’s pilot was not only old and somewhat irrelevant, but it jumped all over the place and was hard to follow. The audience grew restless and some people even chuckled at how poor the show was.
We were told that to simulate an at-home television viewing experience we would also be viewing commercials during the breaks. Unlike the pilot, the commercials were current. After more research about this company, I learned that Television Preview actually wanted to watch our reactions to the commercials.
The next pilot was the show Dads starring C. Thomas Howell. This was a 30-minute comedy pilot about three divorced fathers. I later learned the show was from 1997. It was more tolerable than Soulmates, but it was obvious that with the climate of television shows today, this show would not be revamped and brought to the airways.
After each of the shows we were given more surveys to fill out that had a few questions about the shows and more questions about products. In the second prize drawing survey we were even asked if we used moist wipes after using the toilet– known as the wet method. This personal questioning on the survey illustrates just how far removed this survey went from the television screening we thought we were there for.
I would strongly warn against Television Preview because although they admit they aren’t associated with any television producers, they lied because the pilots are years old and not in consideration for future television airing.