It's Commercial Ratings Madness!

Categories: TV Advertising

Written By

October 8th, 2007

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Robert posted on the subject yesterday, but a host of TV journalists have weighed in since then about the "turmoil" the new C+3 ratings is going to cause and I wanted to comment on the upcoming changes as well.

Many concerns have been voiced:

There will be a delay of up to 21 days from air date for the C+3 commercial ratings to be released by Nielsen, possibly longer if Nielsen hits a snag.

I don't think that ends up being that much of an issue. It upsets the old inertia of the weekly ratings / ad valuing process, but everyone involved will just adapt.

Live ratings are down for most network shows this year, but delayed viewing ratings show a much smaller decline overall and increases in some cases.

We don't yet have access to the data TVWeek quoted in it's article, but I while I would expect some shows to benefit and others to be hurt, I don't think the overall effect will be substantial. Viewership is still down on an aggregate basis for the broadcast networks.

Many advertisers don't want to pay as much for delayed viewers.

Makes sense to me. You're advertising a Friday movie premiere on Thursday night, why do you want to pay for the "+3" part of the viewership? On the other hand, if you're advertising beer or automobiles, there is likely much less importance as to exactly when your commercial gets viewed.

Which leads us to the biggest effect I think we're likely to see:

Commercial ratings, as opposed to show ratings, are very likely to be significantly less for delayed viewing than for live viewing.

Ultimately, this is going to be the big story of the new commercial ratings system, finally putting the nail in the coffin of the fantasy "Oh, most DVR viewers don't skip commercials". [Les Moonves, I'm thinking of you.]

Of course people using DVRs skip commercials, not all of them all the time, but a lot of them a lot of the time.

Over many years of viewership erosion, the broadcast networks have been able to do an admirable job of increasing per viewer ad rates and reasonably maintaining their revenues.

The new commercial ratings data is likely to be a significant challenge for them to increase their real advertising cost per viewer once the number of actual viewers of the ads is quantified.

 
  • Robert Seidman

    The networks (and not just CBS!) have spent a lot on researching this. It’s part of the sales pitch to charge for ads anyway.

    Everything from biometric research on where the eye gaze is while fast forwarding through commericals to surveys on DVR usage.

    Absent from any of the presentations I’ve seen is what % of DVR users utilize “30 second skip button” functionality vs. fast fowarding. It is very possible we’re in a small minority of “skip button” users.

    Neither Tivo nor Comcast DVRs come with this feature as a default. While both are easily “hacked” to include 30 second skip functionality, I’d guess less than 20% of the DVR base have. So neither of us are likely to be a good proxy for how most DVR users use their DVRs.

    My boy Les Moonves may actually have a point. :)

  • Robert Seidman

    The networks (and not just CBS!) have spent a lot on researching this. It's part of the sales pitch to charge for ads anyway.

    Everything from biometric research on where the eye gaze is while fast forwarding through commericals to surveys on DVR usage.

    Absent from any of the presentations I've seen is what % of DVR users utilize “30 second skip button” functionality vs. fast fowarding. It is very possible we're in a small minority of “skip button” users.

    Neither Tivo nor Comcast DVRs come with this feature as a default. While both are easily “hacked” to include 30 second skip functionality, I'd guess less than 20% of the DVR base have. So neither of us are likely to be a good proxy for how most DVR users use their DVRs.

    My boy Les Moonves may actually have a point. :)

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