Adults 18-49, 25-54, Live+Same Day, Live+3, Live+7: It's All The Same To The Cancellation Bear

Categories: TV Business

Written By

September 27th, 2012

CBS's Kelly Kahl (@calibadger) took to Twitter today on a variety of topics, one being the importance of different age demos to CBS's business.

First of all, we're glad to see that Kelly's no retentionista, and while we have some theories why CBS is pushing the adults 25-54 PR angle harder than ever this year (a bit on that below), all I wanted to note was that for the purposes of the cancellation bear, and our predictions of the futures of individual broadcast primetime scripted shows, using relative adults 25-54 ratings wouldn't likely yield any different results than using adults 18-49 ratings as we do now.

What about DVR ratings?

Some time next week the Live+3 day program ratings will be available for premiere week and you'll see a lot of network PR about them, and on October 15  the Live+7 day ratings for premiere week will be available, and expect to be buried under the weight of a PR avalanche touting those.

While we use Live+Same Day relative ratings to make our predictions (primarily because they are available sooner), again, the predictions would be highly unlikely to change were we to use Live+3 day or Live+7 day ratings, since the relative ratings ratios are unlikely to change, and the combination of relative adults 18-49 Live+Same Day ratings have been very, very predictive in the past.

To the cancellation bear it really doesn't matter what relative ratings get compared, the same shows are going to get canceled, and be predicted to be canceled.

It's better to follow the bear than be chased by him. Follow The Cancellation Bear on Twitter via @TheCancelBear. #fearthebear

Why is CBS all of a sudden pushing harder on the adults 25-54 ratings PR button?

It's not to avoid negative season to season ratings comparisons. CBS is probably going to be down about the same % vs. last season in 18-49 as they are in 25-54.

My guess is that the big 25-54 PR push is happening to allow them to better tout their "We won the timeslot! We won the night!" daily PR skirmishes now that they have at least one competitor either "beating" or nearly "beating" them on every night among adults 18-49. But that's just the cynic in me.

  • The Old woman

    If major advertising is for A25-54, then why is A18-49 being touted as all important? Don’t understand that.

    CBS has the oldest viewers so it’s clear why they are going for A25-54. I think POI would shoot up to 4 and 5’s in that demo.

  • Tim

    Bleh. At the end of the season, the weaker shows in demo will die. And the ones that are weak in both, demo and total numbers won’t have a chance with cbs.
    But I can understand CBS PR trying to sell how great they are doing when the truth is that in the last 3 years they have not being able to get a real megahit. By that I mean a show in high 3 demos. NBC got The Voice and ABC OUAT. And this season Vegas and Elemntary just did ok premieres, H50 crashed last Monday and the returning shows are all getting old except for POI that came back stronger.

  • Silent Hunter

    Really anything you can wind through the ads with is useless to the networks.

  • Bill Gorman

    “If major advertising is for A25-54, then why is A18-49 being touted as all important? Don’t understand that.”

    That’s PR spin from CBS.

    I have no problem believing that lots of money gets spend on 25-54 over all of TV including local, news, & cable. But for broadcast primetime, which is Kahl’s primary responsibility, 18-49 is the metric that prices the ads.

    “I work for a communications consulting company in Boston. Because of the election we have several campaigns who we are buying time for that don’t care about demographics all they want to see is total audience numbers.”

    For political ads, which are a once in a two or four year cycle in local markets, I can see that being the case. Also, *local* TV ads are often sold with no metrics at all behind them, simply on a “what will the traffic bear” sort of pricing model.

    “I’ve worked in media buying, the major companies who spend the most in ad buying primarily look at A25-54 and W25-54.”

    I have no doubt that for local, news and cable that’s the case for national buying, but not for broadcast primetime.

    “Old news, CBS sells 25-54, not 18-49:

    Not old news, old CBS PR spin.

  • iggy

    Personally, I judge shows by their C+30 / ? rating among viewers aged 25-34.

  • Holly

    Personally, I judge shows by their C+30

    Was that a typo?

  • Riff Rafferty

    CBS is pushing the adults 25-54 PR angle harder than ever this year (a bit on that below)

    Oh my God, that is their demo! And it is a very lucrative one. What is wrong with you?

    No, of course the nets don’t “sell” retention. Media buyers aren’t intelligent enough to understand anything that complex. They just don’t keep shows around with s#!t retention when they know that anything else can retain more and net them better rates.

    And while you’re up there, make sure to ask Kelly what he thought of “Partners” retention from “Your Mother” and how long they plan to continue selling that…

  • Joseph

    The Cancellation Bear should have his first activity of the season within the next 72 hours!

  • KJ Styles

    CBS will win this year easily. It has Thursday nights on lock, it could end up winning Tuesdays (NCIS is a beast), and is competitive on the rest of the nights except Sunday. Not to mention that they’re airing the Super Bowl this year.

  • KJ Styles

    @Tim- “But I can understand CBS PR trying to sell how great they are doing when the truth is that in the last 3 years they have not being able to get a real megahit. By that I mean a show in high 3 demos.”

    I think you forgot about 2 Broke Girls.

  • Darcy

    Are you ever going to get the DVR+3 ratings again?
    Also, how important are Teen ratings?

  • Aeiouy

    There are advertisers more than happy to pay for older audiences. The issue is that those advertisers who want 18-49 are more numerous and likely willing to spend more. So the network maximizes its revenue focused on that demo.

    Advertisers who might target older audiences love opportunities like Harry’s Law because they get much more bang for their buck.

    Again though it is really just a competition issue and the main demo has so much more competition that the price networks get is so much higher that it doesn’t make sense to worry about anything else.

    That being said, I think a lot of advertisers have their own needs and do make their decisions on more substantial data.

    For the latest upcoming movie release, an 18 year old male is a get. There is likely zero difference between the value of a 45 year old male and a 50 year old male.

    In many cases viewers at the lower end of the demo are of no value.

    While people say the advertisers buy the demo, I don’t buy it. Few products, services make sense in that generic context.

    Ultimately it is the crossover of market segments that maximizes revenue for the networks. The networks are the ones who care about the combined 18-49 demo. Most advertisers are going to be more targeted than that factoring in many other factors to their ad buys. The ad sales people at CBS care about more than 18-49 because their clients do. CBS as a programmer cares about 18-48 because that is what lets them maximize revenue. It is entirely possible with CBS stable of shows that have a larger older audience is providing an increased level of competition for those 48-54 viewers over 18-25 viewers that CBS is shifting to maximize their income.

    If CBS looks at its ad buys and why their clients are buying what shows and thus adjust what works for them. I buy advertising for a living and i could never imagine a situation where i would buy based on the combined 18-48 demo for anything. I would have my own refined targets and use those to find inefficiencies in the market.

  • JCB

    Quick question?

    I’m sure it has been answered but I wanted to know what is considered same day for like DVR purposes, as long as you watch the program before midnight that day?

  • danielcw

    I am not quite sure about DVR usage, but I believe 3am (very early on the next day) is the cut-off.

    By the way: I would like to know how ratings at around 3am (or whenerver the cut-off is) are handled in the U.S.? Are views that happen around that time split into 2? I.e.: Will there be a rating for the 2:30 am to 3:00 am portion for day one, and a rating for the 3:00 am to 3:30 am portion on day 2?

  • OMG

    Sometimes I don’t dare to watch CBS shows even though they perform well because they can swiftly cancel shows. And I am not referring to just those one-season shows (the other networks cancel a lot more rookie shows), but those with many seasons. After Ghost Whisperer and CSI: Miami had so many solid seasons, one bad season, and they got unceremoniously booted, without even a proper series conclusion. If that is what is going to happen to all CBS shows it is going to be a shame. I have not recalled CBS shows in recent history with a proper ending.

    At least ABC gave its shows like Desperate Housewives and LOST some form of actual series conclusion. Even when they cancelled Ugly Betty, they announce it in advance so that the writers can (albeit abruptly) wrap up. NBC gave one to Chuck. FOX gave it to Fringe and House. When shows have gone 3 seasons or more, the fans at least deserve some closure.

  • Tyson

    “There are advertisers more than happy to pay for older audiences.”

    Sure, that statement is true. Are there advertisers more than happy to pay more than necessary? No way!

    To put it bluntly, your mom and your grandma are cheap dates. People tend to watch more television as they age. Advertisers looking for the 50+ demo can reach it much less expensively during daytime programming.

    There is no need to pay the premium primetime rate. Advertisers do what the rest of us do: look for the best deal possible.

  • KJ Styles

    @OMG- CBS isn’t the only network in history to do that. NBC didn’t give the original Law & Order a proper finale and that was the one of the longest reigning shows in history. The King Of Queens aired on CBS and it got a proper finale.

    I guarantee that when NCIS, CSI, Criminal Minds, Big Bang Theory, How I Met Your Mother, and even Two & A Half Men end, they will all get proper finales.

  • Craig

    This article is what i would like to refer to as a BROKEN RECORD, We know your views and opinions on this, you force it down our throats all through pilot season and beyond

  • John_M

    I’ve always wondered who these PR Spin reports appeal to.

    Advertisers aren’t dumb enough to listen to such nonsense right? They know how the numbers work and what matters to them more than anyone else.

    Viewers don’t care do they? Does the PR announcement that some show won the night really make a viewer change their minds.

    Once again it just feels like PR departments trying to justify being employed

  • Fake Me Out

    @Riff Rafferty

    Bad ‘retention’ is a symptom not the disease. A show that loses 50% of the lead-in 10.0 demo is still a hit show. B show that loses 50% of the 6.0 lead-in still gets renewed. C show that loses 50% of the 4.0 lead may, or may not, get picked-up depending on the slot, night and net. D show that loses 50% of the 2.0 lead gets canceled. All 4 shows lose 50% yet only D gets canceled, why? Not because of retention but because of the relative low ratings. But you already know this …


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