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Nielsen Ratings Thu, Mar 20: NCAA No Deal for CBS?

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March 21st, 2008

Scoreboard for Thurs. March 20, 2008 NBC CBS ABC FOX CW
Total Viewers (million) 8.64 8.45 8.37 7.91 3.18
Rating/Share: Adults 18-49 2.8/8 3.3/9 3.0/9 2.4/7 1.3/4

If you believe the numbers (which I more or less do),  NBC won the night narrowly edging out CBS, though CBS did win the 18-49 demographic. NBC was pushed to 3rd. 

Nielsen is enamored with the notion of Anytime Anywhere Media Measurement and if I'm CBS I start SCREAMING for it right now.  Eli Stone getting more viewers than the NCAA from 10p-11p!   I actually believe that more than I believe Deal or No Deal had more viewers at 8pm.  CBS averaged about 3 million fewer viewers than it did last week with Survivor, and repeats of CSI and Without a Trace (repeats!).  The college hoops only very slightly improved the 18-49 demo results (a 3.3 vs. a 3.2)

Unfortunately I did not see the data for just the 8pm-9pm hour for NCAA action (the other hours are broken out), but outside of the Belmont/Duke game most of yesterday's games just weren't that entertaining.  But I know from 2:30p to 9:00ish PDT (5:30-midnight EDT) I was in a sports bar that was crammed with at least a few hundred people from about 5:30p PDT to 9pm PDT.

Nielsen didn't count most of those people or any of the ones at the thousands of bars across the country where that happened.   They have the same problem for football when there are games which can basically only be seen at a sports bar (like the NFL Network matchup last November between the Packers and the Cowboys).  

Anyway, NBC with a rare Thursday night victory - while facing off against the NCAA (and LOST!).  Wow. 

If I read the Berman report right last night's NCAA matchups averaged 8.45 million for the primetime portion, down ~20% from last year's 10.48 million.  Normally I do understand the diminishing ratings, but this is a little bit of a surprise to me.  Perhaps it's just that there were so many blowouts that people tuned out.  I'm not sure what to make of it other than Belmont breaking my heart.  The data we'd really need to see - a metric that would be telling is how did last night's beer sales compare to a year ago.  If that's down 20% there's a real issue here for everyone involved.  But if it's the same, or more,  then everyone's happy.  The goal of the Nielsen numbers is to facilitate the buying and selling of advertising and the goal of, say Anheuser-Busch when it advertises is to sell as much Budweiser as it possibly can. 

If AB is selling more Bud, regardless of whether advertising played a role or not, AB won't get tweaked about the lower ratings and will still advertise next year when CBS will again figure out (it is genius, I can't deny it) how to sell fewer eyeballs for even more money. Maybe by next year the Anytime Anywhere Media Measurement from Nielsen won't just be a press release.

As predicted a couple of days ago, Miss Guided did not fare nearly as well in its "permanent" time slot. The two episodes airing from 8p-9p averaged 6.34 million vs almost 10 million at 10:30pm (10:32, actually) on Tuesday night out of Dancing with the Stars.  Still, for an ABC sitcom, on a competitive night those numbers don't seem bad.  At least not when compared to According to Jim, Cavemen, etc.  For all I know the Mouse is most pleased with the results.

Speaking of the Mouse, LOST did win the 9pm hour in both viewers and 18-49 viewers somewhat convincingly.  Thursdays at 9pm is the most competitive hour of television of the week.  When LOST returns in a month it will be pushed to 10pm.  I enjoyed last night's episode and I'll probably write about it after I'm done watching the NCAA tourney - which is not a primetime only event.  The games start just after noon on the east coast and I'm already missing a little action!

Thursday night's details:

Time Network Show Viewers (Millons) 18-49 Rating/Share HH Rating
8:00 CBS NCAA Basketball (8pm-11pm) 8.45 3.3/9  
  FOX Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader? 7.31 2.1/7  
  ABC Miss Guided (2 Episodes) 6.34 2.2/7 4.3
  NBC Deal or No Deal 10.21 3.3/10 6.6
  CW Smallville 3.41 1.4 2.2
           
9:00 FOX Dont Forget the Lyrics 8.51 2.7/7 4.9
  ABC Lost 11.28 4.4/12  
  NBC Celebrity Apprentice 8.62 3.1/8 5.9
  CW Reaper 2.95 1.2/3 1.9
  CBS NCAA Basketball (9p-10p) 9.91 3.8/10  
           
10:00 CBS NCAA Basketball (10p-11p) 7.15 2.8/8  
  ABC Eli Stone 7.54 2.5/7 4.9
  NBC Lipstick Jungle 7.09 2.6/7 5.1

Nielsen Ratings Source: Nielsen Media Research. Full night's results available via Marc Berman/Mediaweek.

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  • Carl LaFong

    Just so ya know, the NCAA tournament has never been a big ratings grabber, especially the early rounds. So yeah, other primetime shows were more watched for real, no matter how many video platforms Nielsen tries to measure.

    NCAA fans don’t seem to grasp the concept that most of America just doesnt care about the tournament. That’s why we have guys like Nielsen to confirm it.

  • Carl LaFong

    Just so ya know, the NCAA tournament has never been a big ratings grabber, especially the early rounds. So yeah, other primetime shows were more watched for real, no matter how many video platforms Nielsen tries to measure.

    NCAA fans don't seem to grasp the concept that most of America just doesnt care about the tournament. That's why we have guys like Nielsen to confirm it.

  • http://tvbythenumbers.com Robert Seidman

    I grasp that most people just don’t care. But by that metric, most people just don’t care about any one show or event. Not Lost, Moonlight or Jericho, certainly, but not American Idol or the Super Bowl either.

    Nielsen counts about 280 million of us aged 2 and over. By the most liberal of accounting, CBS reports that last year some 130 million took in at least PART of the tournament (granted, it may have only been for 5 minutes), and 130 million is less than half of 280 million. It indeed can’t claim “most”.

    On the other hand, how many events or shows broadcast in the US can claim over 100 million took in some part? It’s not that many, is it? even though MOST people don’t care — it’s still a pretty big deal.

  • http://tvbythenumbers.com Robert Seidman

    I grasp that most people just don't care. But by that metric, most people just don't care about any one show or event. Not Lost, Moonlight or Jericho, certainly, but not American Idol or the Super Bowl either.

    Nielsen counts about 280 million of us aged 2 and over. By the most liberal of accounting, CBS reports that last year some 130 million took in at least PART of the tournament (granted, it may have only been for 5 minutes), and 130 million is less than half of 280 million. It indeed can't claim “most”.

    On the other hand, how many events or shows broadcast in the US can claim over 100 million took in some part? It's not that many, is it? even though MOST people don't care — it's still a pretty big deal.

  • Anon

    Last night was not a big night for the NCAA – not the big teams, the first night. I would guess it will do better this weekend and even better a week later.

  • Anon

    Last night was not a big night for the NCAA – not the big teams, the first night. I would guess it will do better this weekend and even better a week later.

  • http://tvbythenumbers.com Robert Seidman

    I agree about the matchups, but later weeks doing better is “deceptive”. By the same CBS accounting used a comment or two ago, more people watch the earlier rounds than the later rounds, but those people are spread out over more games (16 games a day for 2 days…lots of games with most of them NOT being aired in primetime).

    It is fair to say the semis and the final will have higher ratings — but it’s not fair (or correct) to say more people will watch the semis and final than the earlier rounds.

  • http://tvbythenumbers.com Robert Seidman

    I agree about the matchups, but later weeks doing better is “deceptive”. By the same CBS accounting used a comment or two ago, more people watch the earlier rounds than the later rounds, but those people are spread out over more games (16 games a day for 2 days…lots of games with most of them NOT being aired in primetime).

    It is fair to say the semis and the final will have higher ratings — but it's not fair (or correct) to say more people will watch the semis and final than the earlier rounds.

  • Patrick

    CBS should give the NCAA to cable and FOX should give its MLB post season to cable.
    Give us the same shows in the same time slots each week and we will keep coming back. It isn’t rocket science.
    I want my CSI at 9 pm on Thursday!

  • Patrick

    CBS should give the NCAA to cable and FOX should give its MLB post season to cable.
    Give us the same shows in the same time slots each week and we will keep coming back. It isn't rocket science.
    I want my CSI at 9 pm on Thursday!

  • http://yahoo.com Eva G.

    Miss Guided looks like such a dumb show, or very dumbed down, but will probably last 6 seasons, cuz of Ashton.

  • http://yahoo.com Eva G.

    Miss Guided looks like such a dumb show, or very dumbed down, but will probably last 6 seasons, cuz of Ashton.

  • Kara

    No offence Eva..but do you ever watch a show before commenting on how “dumb” a show is?Aston was a GUEST STAR, not a permanent actor on the show. Atleast watch a show before commenting on how stupid it is…

  • Kara

    No offence Eva..but do you ever watch a show before commenting on how “dumb” a show is?Aston was a GUEST STAR, not a permanent actor on the show. Atleast watch a show before commenting on how stupid it is…

  • kayarn

    sure some people dont like basketball, but stop by any bar this weekend or as i just was, any kind of tv lounge on a college campus. they are packed with people watching the games.

    people watch sports in large numbers, often in public places. its a communial experience best enjoyed with a bunch of people, not alone on the couch like a random tv show.

    neilsen doesnt count these kinds of viewership, but they are there. and aside from a football sunday, the ncaa tournament is the biggest date on the sports schedule.

  • kayarn

    sure some people dont like basketball, but stop by any bar this weekend or as i just was, any kind of tv lounge on a college campus. they are packed with people watching the games.

    people watch sports in large numbers, often in public places. its a communial experience best enjoyed with a bunch of people, not alone on the couch like a random tv show.

    neilsen doesnt count these kinds of viewership, but they are there. and aside from a football sunday, the ncaa tournament is the biggest date on the sports schedule.

  • http://www.tv.com/users/vendbien/profile.php Jon V

    Ahhh!!! Right in my wheel house.

    Watching the NCAA tournament while DVRing Miss Guided (it’s good for what it wants to be) and Eli Stone (this is much better than I thought – I turned off the pilot and panned it the next day in a review) eeking out a win at 10pm.

    Considering what a terrible day I had yesterday, things sure ‘brightened up’ when the sun went down.

  • http://www.tv.com/users/vendbien/profile.php Jon V

    Ahhh!!! Right in my wheel house.

    Watching the NCAA tournament while DVRing Miss Guided (it's good for what it wants to be) and Eli Stone (this is much better than I thought – I turned off the pilot and panned it the next day in a review) eeking out a win at 10pm.

    Considering what a terrible day I had yesterday, things sure 'brightened up' when the sun went down.

  • Jake

    two observations:

    1. Does Nielson count sports bars? Because a lot of people actually get off their butts and go interact with their friends and watch the games at sports bars.

    2. The games themselves were boring… no upsets on Thursday night. I am sure a lot more tuned in then stopped watching.

  • Jake

    two observations:

    1. Does Nielson count sports bars? Because a lot of people actually get off their butts and go interact with their friends and watch the games at sports bars.

    2. The games themselves were boring… no upsets on Thursday night. I am sure a lot more tuned in then stopped watching.

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