Live+SD Adults 18-49 Ratings Are Still Good Enough (For Us), Part II

Folks at the networks continue to sing the note,that Live+SD ratings give a “too soon!” look and that it’s necessary to wait for more data (e.g. Live+3 and/or Live+7). They’ll sing that note even more loudly this season.

Bill  weighed in with “part 1” late last week, but with some L+3 ratings being released today, I saw lots of tweets like this one  on Twitter today (not singling out Joe Flint, it’s just the most recent one I saw):

Seeing boost CBS Monday numbers get from 3 days worth of DVR once again proof that fast nationals and overnights means little these days.

I agree with the notion that Live+SD doesn’t measure as much as L+3 or L+7. But I disagree that the Live+SD (even the fast nationals) mean little these days. In fact, in the case of the first two days of the season, when it comes to CBS the Live+3 data didn’t really tell us anything we didn’t know with the Live+SD data.

We assumed Partners wasn’t long for the world on Tuesday morning. And despite the low Live+SD number for Hawaii Five-0, we weren’t worried about it at those levels because it already has a syndication deal.

In terms of which shows get canceled and renewed it’s relative ratings for the network that matter,  and the relative landscape hardly changes at all Live+SD vs. Live+3 (or Live+7, for that matter).

Let’s look at the first two days of CBS’s season (it’s all we have the L+3 data for so far, or I would’ve included more):

Show L+SD A18-49 L+3 A18-49
NCIS 4.1 4.9
2 Broke Girls 3.7 4.6
How I Met Your Mother 3.6 4.4
NCIS: LA 3.4 4.0
Mike & Molly 3.1 3.8
Vegas 2.5 3.4
Partners 2.4 2.6
Hawaii Five-0 1.8 2.6

Of course Monday and Tuesday are two of CBS’s strongest days, and based on two days of data, the only show in any danger is Partners (and it’s in a lot of danger). But we knew that with the Live+SD ratings too.

The two 10PM shows had the highest % gains, but that’s fairly typical with 10pm shows, and it still didn’t change the relative ratings landscape over those two days.

You might have noticed the rank order of the list is not only closely the same, but exactly the same no matter which column you use. It’s possible that Hawaii Five-0 jumped a little ahead of partners (we saw ratings rather than L+3 viewers A18-49), but again, we knew Hawaii Five-0 wasn’t in any trouble and that Partners was on Tuesday.

Over the course of the season, shows do change a few spots here and there in one ranking vs. the other, but the overall landscape doesn’t change much at all.

I can understand why people  would conclude the Live+SD ratings “don’t tell the full story,” but I can’t fathom why anyone who doesn’t work at a network would conclude the L+SD ratings mean little.

As for the people who work at the ad-supported television networks, they are in the business of selling commercials and everything they do (and say!) is in service of that primary objective. One data point I can understand them wanting to wait on is the aggregate primetime ratings where Nielsen measures Y/Y performance. If the networks are way down in Live+SD viewing but flat or up in the Live+3 & +7 numbers, that’s certainly not meaningless to them. But that doesn’t mean that the Live+SD ratings mean little — at least not if what you care about is which shows will be renewed and canceled. If that’s what you care about the Live+SD numbers still tell you pretty much everything you need to know.


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