LSAT 91 – Section 2 – Question 15

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Type Tags Answer
Curve Question
PT91 S2 Q15
Necessary assumption +NA
+Medium 145.724 +SubsectionMedium

This is an NA question.

The stimulus is abstract so to better understand what it’s saying, we should translate it into something more tangible.

Let’s take “Friends” as the example of the popular TV show. The stimulus is saying that selling reruns of “Friends” while “Friends” is still running on NBC can lead to decreased revenues for NBC. So in other words, new episodes of “Friends” are still being released on NBC but simultaneously, Season 1, 2, 3, etc.’s reruns are also being broadcast on, say, Netflix. The first sentence is saying that would be bad for NBC’s revenues. Okay, but why? I suspect that’s the conclusion.

This next sentence, however, doesn't support this. It just says the show's producers do earn a great deal of money from the sale of the syndication rights because the stations rerunning the programs are assured of a successful show. Okay, so when Netflix buys “Friends,” it’s assured of a successful show so it’s happy to pay the producers a great deal of money. But what does this have to do with NBC, the network, suffering a decrease in revenue? Nothing. This seems like just a throwaway claim. A concession claim.

"However" signals a transition from this throwaway claim, this concession point, to a premise. Good, I’m eager to know why NBC is going to lose money on this deal.

A recent study shows that over 80% of the programs that are made available as reruns and as first-run episodes during the same season suffer an immediate ratings drop for their first-run episodes.

Hmm, okay. So if Season 8 Episode 1 of “Friends” is premiering on NBC, but you've already sold the rights for Seasons 1 through 7 to Netflix, then it's likely that Season 8 Episode 1 is going to suffer an immediate ratings drop. Because that’s what happens 80% of the time.

So that's why NBC will lose money.

Wait a second. The premise is about ratings drop, but the conclusion is about losing revenues. Well, I know what kind of NA question this is. It's one where we have to connect some concept from the premise to some concept in the conclusion. We have to build a bridge from the premise to the conclusion.

For example, a bridge that says ratings drop is relevant to revenue decrease. If that’s not the case, then we have no premise. I mean it, because for something to be a premise, it has to lend at least some support. So if ratings drop had nothing to do with revenue decrease, then there is no premise because there's no support, in which case the argument falls apart.

That’s why (B) is the Correct Answer Choice. A drop in ratings has a negative effect on the network's revenues. This must be true.

Answer Choice (A) says programs that are sold into syndication early tend to be long-running hits that are likely to decline soon.

If this were an RRE question, maybe (A) would be relevant. Imagine the stimulus said something like, a recent study showed that over 80% of programs that are sold into syndication early suffered a ratings drop, and networks consequently experienced decreased revenues as a result. In spite of this, programs are still sold into syndication early. Why? Resolve, reconcile, explain it.

Well, now (A) might do some work. Why? Because the producers of the programs know that they are on the decline anyway and so they want to maximize the value of the shows before they’re completely worthless.

Answer Choice (C) says the price of syndication rights includes some compensation for the network's probable losses. This is not necessary. What if the price of syndication rights didn't include any compensation for the network's probable loss? Who cares? It's not like we're trying to figure out ways to incentivize the network to actually proceed with the deal of selling the syndication rights.

That’s what (C) is concerned with. (C)'s like, “Oh man, I'd better add something to sweeten the deal, otherwise NBC is going to back out of this. Oh, I know. I'm going to tell NBC that my purchase price for the syndication rights for “Friends” will include compensation for what you, NBC, might lose as a result of this deal.”

(C) makes sense in that way, but (C) doesn't make sense at all as a necessary assumption. In the argument, the deal is already done and we're just trying to say what the probable consequences are. It can lead to decreased revenue. And the only premise upon which we have to make this conclusion is because of the study showing the ratings drop. So once again, the assumption is between ratings and revenue. Nothing to do with (C).

Answer Choice (D) says the audience of a popular program will usually prefer first-run episodes to reruns. Okay, so the audience of “Friends,” they usually will prefer a new episode to reruns. That's not necessary.

Imagine it were false. The audience is either indifferent or actually they slightly prefer older episodes. What does that matter? It doesn’t because the premise is still what it is. A study came out that says 80% of programs that are made as reruns and as first-run episodes experienced an immediate ratings drop. On the back of that premise, which is still the only premise we have, we’re arguing that if you sell the syndication rights, it's going to lead to decreased revenue.

So what is (D) doing? How does (D) relate to the argument, if at all? I think (D) might be trying to explain why the study found what it found. Why is it that 80% of the programs experience ratings drop? Maybe it’s because of something having to do with what the audience prefers. But okay, that’s not our job. This isn’t a situation where we have a phenomenon (the study) and then we’re being asked to supply some hypothesis to explain the phenomenon.

Answer Choice (E) says most programs are never sold into syndication. This is not necessary. What if this were false? Imagine that all programs are sold into syndication at some point. It doesn’t matter. The argument is still what it is, with the same missing link that it always had. That missing link has nothing to do with what happens to most programs, whether they eventually get sold into syndication or not.

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