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Rotten Tomatoes to Give ‘Fresh’ Ratings to TV Shows (EXCLUSIVE)

Site expands into TV for the first time and will include reviews for seasons of scripted shows, giving them its signature 'Fresh' or 'Rotten' ratings

Popular movie review website Rotten Tomatoes will now also start tracking television shows.

On Tuesday, the site will launch a separate “TV Zone” that includes a Tomatometer based on reviews of a TV show’s seasons, not individual episodes.

Reviews will cover all the new fall scripted series, as well as shows that have aired on primetime over the last four years that received coverage by critics from major media outlets Rotten Tomatoes follows. It will not track reality shows.

For the older shows like “Breaking Bad” and “Mad Men,” “we will go back to the beginning,” and include reviews of their earlier seasons, Matt Atchity, editor-in-chief of Rotten Tomatoes, told Variety.

Like with movies, the TV Tomatometer will represent good reviews as “Fresh” with a red tomato, while bad reviews will be designated “Rotten” with a splattered green tomato. Series must receive at least 60% positive ratings to be considered “Fresh.”

Fox’s new comedy “Brooklyn Nine-Nine” received an 89% “Fresh” rating, while the first season of “House of Cards” also is “Fresh” with 81% positive ratings. Seth MacFarlane’s “Dads,” is “Rotten” with not a single positive review.

“We’re aggregating the reviews the same way we’ve always been,” Atchity said.

The ratings could prove a boost for series as they look to gain viewers across digital platforms — especially through past seasons, the way audiences watching past seasons on Netflix have helped increase ratings for series like “Breaking Bad.”

But Rotten Tomatoes will also have to keep a closer eye on the way TV seasons play out.

A show that started with positive reviews may hit a creative bump and lose audiences, for example, requiring a rating to change over time. Most TV ratings will be based on the first reviews for a series’ season, usually based on the first several episodes. Additional reviews often come out as a season progresses and Rotten Tomatoes will continue to monitor those recaps.

“If reviews go extremely negative then we may change it as the season goes on,” Atchity said. Rotten Tomatoes cited NBC’s “Smash” as an example of that. “People liked it in the beginning then critics seemed to turn on it,” Atchity noted.

“For movie reviews, we don’t often change them as much,” Atchity said. “But we want to accurately reflect what critics have said.”

The TV offering is the first major expansion beyond Rotten Tomatoes’ core movie reviews since the site was launched in 1998.

Timing of the launch, of course, comes as networks ready to launch the seasons of their new and returning fall shows within the coming days and weeks.

Rotten Tomatoes has long wanted to expand into TV, and has spent the past year aggregating TV reviews.

“We thought it was a good time to get into TV because we’re in the golden age of television right now,” Atchity said. “Creatively, television is where it’s at right now.”

But Rotten Tomatoes’ team had to wait until owner Flixster and parent Warner Bros., which bought the sites in 2011, could free up more resources for the TV service. Until now, WB and Flixster have focused on supporting UltraViolet.

“We really wanted to get in on that conversation and give our users who already are looking at movies a good place to discuss and ingest TV,” Atchity said. “It’s been something we’ve been thinking about for awhile. It’s always a battle to get development resources and make new things happen.”

Rotten Tomatoes would eventually like to see its TV meter also become as ubiquitous as its film ratings have become, showing up on Netflix, Hulu, Comcast, Dish and iTunes.

It also intends to monetize its TV review database and provide links to ways to purchase the shows on disc or digital formats.

It’s already getting the networks’ support, with ABC’s “Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” sponsoring the launch of Rotten Tomatoes’ new TV Tomatometer.

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