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More DVR analysis than you want: Why DVR won't save Dollhouse and TSCC

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Written By

April 17th, 2009

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I'm doing different cuts of the DVR data this week (actually, the data is for the week of 3/23-3/29, I didn't see it until Thursday afternoon, sorry for the delays).  We probably won't move to this sort of reporting on a regular basis.  This takes some time, there isn't huge interest in it, and I'm not sure it's what people really want to see.

However, I'm slicing this data in the ways I think it actually does mean anything, rather than the stuff people seem to want to see which while not meaningful, sometimes makes people happy.   So, we'll probably go back to happy next week.

We normally look at the shows with the most absolute DVR viewing, and the shows with the biggest viewing increases due to DVR viewing.  That latter table isn't particularly meaningful to anything, and while we don't believe DVR viewing in general is terribly meaningful to show's renewal prospects, we can say with great certainty that a high percentage viewing increase due to DVR viewing isn't meaningful at all to most shows because typically the shows with the greatest increases have low overall viewing.  There are exceptions,  but they are for The Office which had 34% of its viewing on DVR and wound up with over 10 million viewers, and not Dollhouse, which had 29% of its viewing, but only wound up with 4.8 million total viewers.

DVR viewing is really only meaningful to the degree it changes the relative ranks of shows.  The truth is, it still doesn't change the relative ranks very much because with most shows, most people are watching LIVE.   What I did in the first table below is list the shows with the highest LIVE+7 viewing totals.  In other words, the regular weekly top 20, but when the full week of DVR viewing is factored in, rather than only the DVR viewing that happened on the same night.

I've included the live, live plus same day and live plus seven viewing numbers, as well as totaled the DVR viewing, but the first table is sorted by total viewing with DVR viewers factored in rather than the typical sorting that is sorted by the number of DVR viewers.  Remember, nowhere else besides the DVR data do we ever post the Live viewing numbers.  The overnight and regular weekly information is all Live+SD which includes a lot of the total DVR viewing. The same day DVR viewing ranges from about 30%-70% of the Live+7  DVR viewing depending on the show and the time slot.

Normally, we report that information, and while it is very interesting for me to see the trend of less DVR viewing on the same night as the DVR population grows, for space/readability  considerations I'm leaving it out this week.

So here are the top 20 shows for the week of March 23-29 once a full week of DVR is included:

Rank Show Net Time Live (000) Live+SD (000) Live+7 (000) DVR Viewing (000) Live+SD Rank
1 American Idol-WEDNESDAY FOX 8:00 PM 22,652 26,069 27,325 4,673 1
2 AMER IDL THU RSLT SP-3/26(S)-03/26/2009 FOX 8:00 PM 20,041 23,105 23,921 3,880 2
3 Dancing with the Stars ABC 8:00 PM 19,178 20,354 21,014 1,836 3
4 Mentalist, THE CBS 10:00 PM 16,854 17,657 19,858 3,004 5
5 NCIS CBS 9:00 PM 16,910 17,864 19,576 2,666 4
6 GREY'S ANATOMY-THU 9PM ABC 9:00 PM 14,029 16,124 18,712 4,683 7
7 DANCING W/STARS RESULTS ABC 9:00 PM 15,206 16,134 16,820 1,614 6
8 Criminal Minds CBS 9:00 PM 13,397 14,371 16,081 2,684 9
9 CSI: MIAMI CBS 10:00 PM 13,134 13,692 15,125 1,991 10
10 60 Minutes CBS 7:18 PM 13,976 14,443 14,580 604 8
11 CSI: NY CBS 10:00 PM 12,319 12,651 13,847 1,528 15
12 Amazing Race 14 CBS 8:18 PM 10,616 11,989 12,543 1,927 12
13 COLD CASE CBS 9:18 PM 11,343 11,860 12,294 951 13
14 24 FOX 9:00 PM 8,879 10,438 11,997 3,118 17
15 Private Practice ABC 10:02 PM 9,415 10,173 11,923 2,508 20
16 E.R. NBC 10:00 PM 9,868 10,395 11,591 1,723 18
17 Two and a Half Men (R) CBS 9:00 PM 10,855 11,146 11,501 646 14
18 CBS NCAA BSKBL CHMP FR 2(S)-03/27/2009 CBS 9:35 PM 10,794 10,996 11,023 229 15
19 Extreme Makeover:HM ED-8P ABC 8:00 PM 10,459 10,840 11,022 563 16
20 HELL'S KITCHEN FOX 9:02 PM 9,114 10,133 11,003 1,889 21
21 LOST ABC 9:00 PM 7,397 9,073 10,990 3,593 27
47 Supernanny ABC 9:00 PM 6,370 6,547 6,848 478 46
65 DOLLHOUSE FOX 9:01 PM 3,402 3,870 4,821 1,419 69
66 TERMINATOR: SRH CNR CHRON FOX 8:00 PM 3,242 3,881 4,714 1,472 68

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As you can see, on the far right I included a column to indicate what the show's LIVE+SD ranks were.  In the case of the table above, most shows didn't change much.  Private Practice gained five spots in the Live+7 rankings and I had to add the 21st show, Lost, to get to a show that moved more than 5 spots based on DVR viewing.  I also listed the numbers for Dollhouse and Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles, and I included Supernanny just to show some Friday night comparisons.  Because  CBS aired basketball that Friday (#18 in the table above) instead of Ghost Whisperer,  Flashpoint and Numb3rs, I couldn't use any of those shows for comparisons here.

But as you can see while given the small overall viewing, Dollhouse and Terminator: TSCC's DVR viewing is proportionately very high, it still doesn't change its relative rank much for the week.   Ok, but that's total viewers.  What about something more important like 18-49 ratings?  Here's a table with the top shows sorted by Live+7 adults 18-49 ratings:

18-49 Rank Show Net Time Live 18-49 rating Live+SD 18-49 Rating Live+7 18-49 Rating Live+SD 18-49 Rank
1 AMERICAN IDOL-WEDNESDAY FOX 8:00 PM 7.67 9.29 9.88 1
2 AMER IDL THU RSLT SP-3/26(S)-03/26/2009 FOX 8:00 PM 6.34 7.67 8.08 2
3 GREY'S ANATOMY-THU 9PM ABC 9:00 PM 4.52 5.63 6.99 3
4 OFFICE NBC 9:00 PM 3.31 4.46 5.62 6
5 DANCING WITH THE STARS ABC 8:00 PM 4.59 5.02 5.28 4
6 LOST ABC 9:00 PM 3.19 4.12 5.17 10
7 HELL'S KITCHEN FOX 9:02 PM 3.99 4.54 4.96 5
8 Mentalist, THE CBS 10:00 PM 3.62 3.88 4.64 14
9 CSI: MIAMI CBS 10:00 PM 3.76 4.00 4.60 12
10 BIGGEST LOSER 7 NBC 9:00 PM 3.72 4.15 4.60 8
11 Family Guy FOX 9:00 PM 3.62 4.22 4.60 7
12 PRIVATE PRACTICE ABC 10:02 PM 3.29 3.68 4.59 17
13 NCIS CBS 9:00 PM 3.69 4.01 4.58 11
14 DANCING W/STARS RESULTS ABC 9:00 PM 3.58 3.89 4.15 13
15 CBS NCAA BSKBL CHMP FR 2(S)-03/27/2009 CBS 9:35 PM 4.02 4.14 4.15 9
16 30 ROCK NBC 9:31 PM 2.73 3.42 4.14 22
17 24 FOX 9:00 PM 2.77 3.44 4.13 21
18 E.R. NBC 10:00 PM 3.31 3.54 4.13 20
19 CRIMINAL MINDS CBS 9:00 PM 3.02 3.41 4.06 23
20 AMAZING RACE 14 CBS 8:18 PM 3.10 3.70 4.00 16
51 Supernanny ABC 9:00 PM 1.99 2.08 2.25 49
56 DOLLHOUSE FOX 9:01 PM 1.19 1.42 1.96 66
63 TERMINATOR: SRH CNR CHRON FOX 8:00 PM 1.00 1.29 1.74 69

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Here you can see that the 18-49 rankings are quite a bit different than the overall rankings.  But, you can follow that phenomenon regularly by comparing the weekly Live+SD overall top 20, to the weekly Live+SD adults 18-49 top twenty.    While the 18-49 numbers above did change when the extra DVR viewing was factored in, I've included the Live+SD 18-49 rankings for that week so you can see the relative changes.

At the top end of the chart,  The Mentalist made the biggest rankings gains with the extra week of DVR factored in, jumping six spots up, and again, Private Practice moved up by five spots.   It's not a surprise to see shows at 10pm have the greatest movement among the top twenty with the extra DVR viewing factored in.

30 Rock also jumped up six spots.

By comparison, Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles jumped up six spots, and Dollhouse gained ten spots in the rankings with the extra week of DVR viewing factored in.  It cut the Live+SD gap with Supernanny by more than half, going from a .66 ratings adults 18-49 rating point gap in LIVE+SD viewing to only a .29 ratings point  gap.

But the problem is, even though hardly anyone DVRs Supernanny relative to Dollhouse (see first table), when all is said in done, with all of the DVR viewing factored in, Supernanny still outperforms Dollhouse by almost 15%.  A much more expensive scripted show getting beat by Supernanny is not a recipe for renewal, no matter how you slice it.

So barring an astronomically good forecast for Dollhouse DVD sales by FOX's studio division to the point where it's so heavily discounted that the FOX broadcast network simply can't refuse it -- and that seems very unlikely to me -- or, roughly a 25% improvement to Dollhouse's Live+SD 18-49 ratings(that would result in similar increases to its Live+7 ratings), I don't see any way this show is coming back.

Here are a few other shows:

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18-49 Rank Show Net Time Live 18-49 Rating Live+SD 18-49 Rating Live+7 18-49 Rating Live+SD 18-49 Rank
38 CHUCK NBC 8:00 PM 1.84 2.24 2.74 42
44 SAMANTHA WHO? ABC 8:30 PM 1.96 2.18 2.54 47
49 LIFE ON MARS ABC 10:02 PM 1.8 1.98 2.26 53
62 LIFE NBC 9:00 PM 1.22 1.43 1.81 65
68 FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS NBC 9:00 PM 1.14 1.28 1.59 71
69 KINGS NBC 8:00 PM 1.08 1.29 1.49 70
70 Supernatural CW 9:00 PM 1.05 1.18 1.48 73
 
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