More Observations on C+3 Commercial Ratings

Categories: TV Advertising,TV Business

Written By

October 23rd, 2008

More Early Observations on C+3 Commercial Ratings from a new MAGNA report:

For the first time since Live + 3 Day Commercial Minute Ratings (C3) became currency used to
buy and sell primetime programming, we are able to compare these numbers on a year-to-year basis. While one week is generally not a good predictor of the season as a whole, here are
some early observations:

  • With the exception of CW, which showed marginal gains in its C3 numbers, the broadcast networks were either flat or down compared to week 1 of last season. On a 5-network basis, the declines ranged from 4 to 7 percent depending on the demo. All in all, we would consider that a normal rate of erosion for the broadcast networks.
  • There are differences between the rate of decline on live program ratings and C3. Among viewers 12-34 and adults 18-34, C3 ratings only fell about half as much as the live averages. We expect live viewing to decline at a faster rate as more viewers time shift, and some of our previous analyses have shown that adults 18-34 are the heaviest DVR users. However, as we move to the adult 18-49 bucket, the rate of decline on C3 passes that of live. This seems to indicate more commercial avoidance among the 35-49 segment, and is supported by the fact that the gap between the Live + 3 Program and Live + 3 Commercial is a bit larger among that group than among the 18-34 set.
  • For the first week at least, a trend we noted last season seems to be continuing: LP and C3 ratings are virtually identical for the broadcast networks. (See Appendix 1 for LP and C3 network comparisons)
  • Ad-supported cable as a whole is up on both a live and C3 basis, though the gains on C3 are a bit smaller. Because cable networks depend heavily on repeat programming, they do not gain as much on playback when looking at an overall average. However, there are original cable programs that are time-shifted quite heavily.
  • Election year growth on the cable news networks have accounted for a substantial portion of cable’s C3 gains: 51 percent among adults 18-49 and 42 percent among adults 18-49. Other networks to show notable increases include USA, ESPN, and A&E.
  • Four weeks into the season, television usage is still ahead of last year among most demos, even on a live basis.
You can download the entire report here.
While we assume paying Nielsen subscribers have seen these numbers for a year, this report is the first time I have seen comparisons between C+3 commercial ratings and Live+3 program ratings, as close to an apples to apple comparison as we can get to see how much people watch commercials in DVR playback. You can see the raw numbers in the report yourself. I will be working on a post with some analysis for later today.
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