Network PR Jedi Mind Tricks: Live+3 Day, Live+7 Day Ratings And Your Favorite Show's Future

Categories: TV Advertising,TV Ratings Reference

Written By

October 1st, 2012

While the data in this post is old, it bears reposting given that the TV networks PR over DVR ratings continues to escalate. Normally I wait to post this until the PR avalanche of Live+7 Day ratings begin, but as you might note, Live+3 Day ratings are now available for premiere week and have their own PR wave hitting our shores now.

TV public: Can I see your TV ratings?
Network PR: [with a small wave of his hand] You don't need to see our Live+Same Day TV ratings.
TV public: We don't need to see his Live+Same Day TV ratings.
Network PR: These aren't the ratings you're looking for.
TV public: These aren't the ratings we're looking for.
Network PR: Wait until the Live + 7 Day ratings appear.
TV public: We'll wait until the Live + 7 Day ratings appear.
Network PR: Move along.
TV public: Move along... move along.

Monday is the Live + 7 ratings press release day in the TV business, so I thought I'd pass along an analysis of last season's premiere week ratings and how they relate to Live + 7 day DVR ratings.

First a review of the 3 types of ratings in this post:

  • C+3 day commercial ratings: They determine how much the networks get paid for their advertising. They measure Live and DVR viewing of the average commercial minute during a show within 3 days of airdate. They are rarely available in public.
  • Live+Same Day program ratings: They are the ratings you see reported almost everywhere on a daily and weekly basis. They measure the Live and DVR viewing until 3am after the airdate of the average minute, program and commercials, during an entire show.
  • Live + 7 day program ratings: They measure the Live and DVR viewing within 7 days of airdate of the average minute, program and commercials, during an entire show. They are reported in media articles specifically about DVR viewing, and of course, network PR.They are available 2-3 weeks after the original airdate.

Network PR would like you to focus on Live + 7 day ratings for one very important reason, they're always greater than any other ratings that are measured by Nielsen.

And for network PR, bigger ratings are always better!

But those Live + Same Day ratings that everybody reports every day, even though they measure different things, match up very closely with the C+3 ratings that determine how much the networks get paid by advertisers.

Here are the numbers from premiere week (September 20-26) during the 2010-11 season:

  • Shows with C+3 ratings greater than Live+Same Day program ratings: 4
  • Shows with C+3 ratings equal to Live+Same Day program ratings: 28
  • Shows with C+3 ratings below Live+Same Day program ratings: 63

Conclusions:

  • Live+Same Day program ratings are very close to the C+3 commercial ratings for almost every show. In the majority of cases, Live+ Same Day ratings are above C+3 ratings.
  • Since Live+Same Day program ratings already exceed C+3 ratings in most cases, the additional ratings/viewing added between Live+Same Day and Live+7 Day measurements adds no incremental advertising revenue.

Do not fall for the network PR Jedi Mind Tricks trying to convince you that the incremental ratings added between Live + Same Day and Live+7 day ratings matter to the future of your show (or the revenue of the network). They don't!

Those Live+7 day ratings may be interesting for all sorts of analysis on viewership and behavior, and of course are helpful for press release writers, but the additional DVR viewing after the "Same Day" period doesn't make the network any more money or "help" any shows.

Now that you realize that Live+Same Day ratings are a pretty good analog for the C+3 commercial ratings that really matter, who will you be the next time you're reading about Live+7 day ratings:

Jabba The Hut or Bib Fortuna?

Bib Fortuna: Master.
[Jabba wakes up with a start]
Bib Fortuna: May I present Luke Skywalker, Jedi Knight?
Jabba the Hutt: I told you not to admit him!
Luke: I must be allowed to speak.
Bib Fortuna: He must be allowed to speak.
Jabba the Hutt: You weak minded fool! He's using an old Jedi mind trick.
[Jabba shoves Bib Fortuna aside]
Luke: You will bring Captain Solo and the Wookiee to me.
[Jabba laughs]
Jabba the Hutt: Your mind powers will not work on me boy.

 
  • Josh

    “Nielsen figures that more than half of Americans watch video online.”

    Define “video.” Are we talking 30 second YouTube videos of kittens? Fragments of TV shows (i.e. individual interviews on talk shows)? Or entire TV shows? I have no problem believing that 50% of Americans watch some sort of video online. In fact, I’d guess that’s a low estimate. But are enough watching entire shows that it will significantly effect broadcast rating? I doubt it.

  • senor chang

    In the context of that press release I would say that video refers to scripted content intended for broadcast on television. This is a new service for networks to compile data.

  • senor chang

    a good breakdown of the significance here:
    http://www.neogaf.com/forum/showpost.php?p=42734188&postcount=575

  • Aeiouy

    I am sure the networks would like +4 to +30 day ratings to give them more chances to assign “#1″ titles to shows.

    CBS calls the Big Bang theory the #1 comedy. We know it is not in 18-49 so I assume in total audience. I suspect abc also calls modern family the number 1 comedy for its demo win. With live +3 NBC can claim both the voice, same day numbers, and revolution as the highest rated programs on a network on Monday night.

    The live +3 number or live + 7 is a good way for advertisers weed out DVR users. While biggest % gain of dvr users might sound good if I am going to choose between two shows with equal l +3 ratings I am choosing the one with fewest DVR users

  • Martin

    But I want to believe!

  • John_M

    As they said in that bad kevin smith

    George Lucas gonna sue somebody

  • DW

    i believe that they are trying to sell the product and that its really a crap shoot now. outside of amazon prime where is fringe being shown in reruns in the U.S.?. or chuck for that matter. i flip through the cable listings and see them nowhere on cable. so why did they keep these low rated shows on the air after the second season?. i dont think that many people bought that many sandwiches.

  • Angie

    Fringe reruns start on Science channel in Nov maybe Oct

  • John_M

    C+3 day commercial ratings: They determine how much the networks get paid for their advertising. They measure Live and DVR viewing of the average commercial minute during a show within 3 days of airdate.

    Thanks for the explanations by the way – I must have missed them other places.

    I continue to be disturbed by the ability to measure DVR viewing habits. Is this purely a function of the nielsen box or does it apply to all DVR’s?

  • Holly

    @John_M,

    I continue to be disturbed by the ability to measure DVR viewing habits. Is this purely a function of the nielsen box or does it apply to all DVR’s?

    It’s from the Nielsen boxes.

  • Tom

    senor chang, having a way to measure it is only part of the issue.

    Having the measurement be worth anything is the much larger issue.

    Think about how many ads you saw on the last show you saw on Hulu. (And let’s be specific: Ads, not charity spots.) Now compare that to the number of ads you see on broadcast tv. (And to the best of my knowledge, online cpms are a fraction of broadcast.)

    So unless the new online measurements show that Hulu is watched 5x as much as broadcast for NBC, it won’t change the conclusions much.

    (Furthermore, the Hulu viewing only matters to specific shows if those numbers are drastically better than other competing shows. If all NBC shows end up gaining 20%, the measurement is a wash – the worst shows are still the worst shows.)

    Again, as the article suggests, the biggest problem for the broadcast model is if people are still watching shows on broadcast tv, they are frequently doing it off their DVR, either more than three days after it aired and/or skipping the ads. New measuring tools won’t help that.

  • DKD

    I don’t really think a premiere week is a good gauge of what a show’s typical C3/Live + SD comparison is.

    I do believe that if something is on the bubble, being one of those shows whose C3 is higher than its L+SD is better than being one that is lower.

  • DKD

    The higher a lift a show has from Live + SD to Live + 3 days, the more likely its C3 rating is higher than its Live + SD rating. Grimm, for instance, tends to get a higher C3 rating than its Live + SD.

    As Live + 3 lifts get higher and higher, this will be more of the case.

  • http://tvbythenumbers.com Bill Gorman

    “I do believe that if something is on the bubble, being one of those shows whose C3 is higher than its L+SD is better than being one that is lower.”

    Based on the few times we have seen and been able to compare C3 and Live+SD ratings, there are almost no shows like that.

    And nobody in public sees C3 ratings except once or twice a year, so their use in prediction is impossible.

    And our predictive record using relative Live+Same Day ratings has been damn good, if I say so myself.

    “Grimm, for instance, tends to get a higher C3 rating than its Live + SD.”

    Produce the C3 numbers that prove that.

    Not saying that’s not the case, but as someone who’s business is built on Hoovering up every publicly available scrap of ratings information, I’ve never seen anything to demonstrate that.

  • DKD

    “Based on the few times we have seen and been able to compare C3 and Live+SD ratings, there are almost no shows like that.”

    “Produce the C3 numbers that prove that.”

    You need to see more recent data. I hope someone publishes more recent stuff soon.

    You know that a lot of people who have access to and see the C3 ratings are not allowed to produce that data for contractual reasons.

    All I’m saying is that if two shows are on the bubble with similar Live + Same Day ratings and one has a C3 that is 10% higher and one has a C3 that is 10% lower, I have a feeling I know which one is more likely to get renewed.

    But, you are right, you don’t get to see those ratings. So, you can’t use them if you don’t have them.

  • http://tvbythenumbers.com Bill Gorman

    “You need to see more recent data. I hope someone publishes more recent stuff soon.”

    Why would that data be any different than what we’ve seen in the past? Just your hopes?

    “You know that a lot of people who have access to and see the C3 ratings are not allowed to produce that data for contractual reasons.”

    Whatever reason it is, they *rarely* get out in public.

    “All I’m saying is that if two shows are on the bubble with similar Live + Same Day ratings and one has a C3 that is 10% higher and one has a C3 that is 10% lower, I have a feeling I know which one is more likely to get renewed.”

    Can’t argue with that, but simply comparing Live+SD ratings has explained effectively every move made in the last couple years *except* those determined by syndication economics. I’m not going to sweat not having C3 ratings to compare.

  • Eridapo

    @ Bill

    From what I read on how people meters work if you skip all the commercials (via FF), the show does not get any ratings credit. If you FF through half the commercials, the show only gets half the ratings credit.

    If that is true, shouldn’t the live+dvr numbers count more because they actually do reflect people who watched commercials.

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