But perhaps also like horoscopes, they are best used for entertainment purposes only!
On Sunday Advertising Age's Brian Steinberg released the annual commercial spot estimates based on surveys from media buyers. Most of the estimates are based on pricing information from the upfronts months before the season starts and before there are any ratings for new shows. Steinberg and Ad Age do a good job of disclaiming how they come up with the numbers and disclaiming that they should only be used as directional indicators. I have no problem with the approach.
I do, however, have a problem with the LA Times reporting on the survey with the headline: TV ratings don't dictate commercial prices, Ad Age survey says. That's maddeningly frustrating for folks who have to deal with questions about ratings every day. The story itself is fine -- it correctly notes that it's not total viewers, but adults 18-49 ratings that drive the pricing. So it turns out, of course, that ratings *do* dictate commercial pricing. Of course, it could've been titled "Total viewers don't dictate commercial prices, Ad Age Survey says" and we'd have had no problem with it. For people who read the whole story, it's fine, but for people who read just the headline (which is a lot of people) it just adds to the general confusion about ratings. Joe Flint, if that's your headline: shame on you -- if it was your editors' headline, shame on them.
A couple of other things that LAT story didn't note: the simple notion that because younger adult viewers watch less television, they're relatively scarce and there is a premium for scarcity. Also, as the Ad Age survey has made abundantly clear over the years, there are also premiums for younger subsets of adults 18-49 (like adults 18-34) which might explain why Glee came in at a higher price than NCIS even though NCIS has considerably *better* adults 18-49 ratings. Even an aging Glee still usually handily bests NCIS with adults 18-34.
The numbers are fun to look at. Rather than get into specifics (or the obvious, that Sunday Night Football rules the pack), you can explore on your own. Several things did catch my eye though, and I'll share one of them: to the degree the estimates are reasonable, those buying Revolution in advance got a great deal!