DVR Viewing Past Airdate Meaningless to TV Revenue

Categories: TV Advertising,TV Business

Written By

October 16th, 2008

We got a peak at the C+3 commercial ratings for the first week (September 22-28) of the season via articles today in TVWeek and MediaDailyNews. Those C+3 commercial ratings, which we do not have regular access to, measure how many people actually watched the commercials in shows within 3 days of the airdate. We have been told by many people in the industry that it's these C+3 ratings that advertisers base their rates on. So, C+3 commercial ratings are all that matters. All the other numbers on our site, and pretty much everything you see elsewhere in the media, are program ratings which measure program not commercial viewing. 

The stories revealed the C+3 adults 18-49 ratings for the top 10 shows and the top 4 networks on average for the week of September 22-28, 2008. The Live+SD 18-49 data is from information we regularly get from Nielsen.

Show Net 18-49 C+3 commercial rating Live+SD 18-49 program rating C+3/ Live+SD ratio
Grey's Anatomy ABC 6.97 7.4 94%
Sunday Night Football NBC 6.47 6.9 94%
Desperate Housewives ABC 6.35 7.1 89%
CSI: Miami CBS 4.99 5.2 96%
Dancing With the Stars ABC 4.86 5.3 92%
House FOX 4.72 5.1 93%
Two and A Half Men CBS 4.72 5.3 89%
The OT FOX 4.59 4.9 94%
NFL Pre-Kick Sunday NBC 4.46 4.5 99%
Fringe FOX 4.10 4.1 100%

Network 18-49 C+3 commercial rating Live+SD 18-49 program rating C+3/ Live+SD ratio
ABC 3.49 3.8 92%
NBC 3.14 3.3 95%
CBS 2.83 3.1 91%
FOX 2.65 3.0 88%

I draw a few conclusions from these numbers:

  1. DVR viewing past the airdate is meaningless for show revenue. In no cases was the C+3 commercial rating greater than the Live+SD program rating, so no viewing numbers past the time period covered by Live+SD are meaningful for advertising revenue. Networks may tout, and we may track, Live+7 DVR viewing, but it's not meaningful to the business. Fans hanging their hopes on show renewal based on Live+7 audiences should take this to heart.
  2. Fringe's reduced ads/show experiment may be working. I hesitate to draw conclusion based on one week's data, but it's all we'll likely see of C+3 so why not. The fact that Fringe had the highest ratio of Live+SD program viewing to C+3 commercial viewing points to the possible effectiveness of their reduced commercial load per show strategy.
  3. In most cases, Live+SD program ratings are a good indicator of C+3 commercial ratings. Although there are exceptions. Note that Desperate Housewives had a better Live+SD program rating, but Sunday Night Football had a better C+3 commercial rating. Also, since all we see are program ratings, I'd hate to think they had no relationship to the numbers that actually matter to the business.
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