'The Americans' as tl;dr "Ratings 101" Lesson - Scripted Cable Renew/Cancel Status Through February 15, 2013

Categories: Cable Renew/Cancel Status,Cable TV

Written By

February 16th, 2013

No predictions, just statuses. If it's past the date below, click here to see if there are updates.

Last Updated February 16, 2013

Fortunately, live viewing isn't the only — or even most important — audience measurement anymore, and the second episode [of The Americans] shot way back up when DVR viewing was added in. (Advertisers will pay for the first three days of DVR viewing.)

-Hitfix’s Alan Sepinwall from his review of the third episode of The Americans, ‘Gregory.’

I’m rooting for FX’s The Americans to succeed, but that doesn’t mean much. Like Alan Sepinwall, I was a fan of Terriers and Lights Out, and as Sepinwall notes in his post, The Americans is off to a much better start than either of those two shows. Even though the third episode of The Americans fell a little from its second episode (which was way down from its first), the third episode of The Americans was still ahead of where Lights Out premiered (a 0.6 adults 18-49 rating and ~1.5 million viewers).

Date Live+SD 18-49 Rtg Live+SD Viewers (Millions)
Wednesday, January 30, 2013 1.2 3.22
Wednesday, February 06, 2013 0.8 1.97
Wednesday, February 13, 2013 0.7 1.65

Nielsen TV Ratings: ©2013 The Nielsen Company. All Rights Reserved.
It’s too soon to have a good feel but even though we don’t make predictions for cable shows, I’d predict FX will renew it if there isn’t a large fall off. If it drops down into the 0.3 A18-49 rating range, I’d worry. But if it holds up at a million viewers and a .5, my guess (and this isn’t like broadcast shows where I can be more certain, it’s just a guess which could be wrong) is FX will give it a shot to grow. It’s no Sons of Anarchy (though in its first season, neither was Sons of Anarchy!) and it’s slipped comfortably below the Justified range. But so far, it’s doing miles better than Lights Out (and miles and miles and miles better than Terriers).

What’s the Most Important Audience Measurement?

I take issue with the notion that live viewing isn’t the most important audience measurement for FX. But these are the complexities of ratings and talking about them and since not much went on this week (BBC canceled ‘The Hour’) this will be variation of  “Numbers 101” posts of yore.

Indeed, the single most important ratings measure for FX are the C3 ratings.  Those represent the average commercial viewing live plus three days of DVR viewing.  All of the numbers we (and everyone else) regularly see and report are not commercial viewing, but program ratings. Program ratings measure the whole program including the commercials. The commercial ratings only measure the commercials. So, if you’re in a Nielsen household and watch The Americans on your DVR and you skip every single commercial, you will still show up in the ratings as ~.66 of a viewer in the program ratings. In fact, you’ll show up as much more than that since the way the Nielsen panel works, were you in it, you would represent thousands of viewers.

But here’s the important thing, were you that viewer in a Nielsen household who watched The Americans on DVR skipping every commercial but still counting as .66 of a viewer (that would project out to ~4,000 viewers) in the program ratings,  you wouldn’t count for anything in the commercial ratings. Squadoosh! Nada, zilch, zip, zed, etc. Now, fortunately for the TV networks even though us DVR viewers say things like “I always skip the commercials!” we don’t in fact always skip them. Sure, we skip most of the commercials most of the time, but we do not skip all of the commercials all of the time. So, were you in a Nielsen household watching The Americans two days later and purposefully or accidentally taking in a few of the commercials, that viewing would get added into the C3 ratings. For the networks, it's not optimal, but still better than nothing.

But know this, unlike their program rating counterparts, the C3 ratings don’t “shoot up” with three days of viewing added in. Sure, they do go up, but they do not shoot up in the skyrocket fashion of the program ratings for the simple reason that most DVR viewers do skip most of the commercials most of the time.

What’s a Program Rating?

As noted above, a program rating measures viewing for the period a program was on (whether that be 15, 30, 60, 90, etc.) minutes, including any commercial viewing.  There are a variety of program ratings, some of which you’re very familiar with:

Live ratings

The live program ratings are exactly what you’d expect them to be – live ratings for the program period (again, including commercials). Though live program ratings aren’t nearly as unavailable as the C3 commercial ratings, we don’t usually see them or post them. But people who work in TV see live program ratings regularly, particularly for broadcast network shows.

Live+SD (L+SD, LSD, LS = Live plus same day DVR) ratings

These are the live program ratings plus any DVR viewing the same night (up until 3am the following morning. So were you in a Nielsen household and watching Wednesday night’s The Americans at midnight Wednesday night/Thursday morning on DVR, your viewing up to 3am would count.

Live+3 (L+3, L3) ratings

Over the last few years, our friendly PR folks have begun using this metric more frequently. It’s the live program viewing with 3 days of DVR viewing included. The reason this metric has become more used is for reasons of Nielsen processing – they can get the Live+3 data much quicker than the Live+7 data (the Live+7 data is typically a weekly run, and it works out that by the time those numbers are available, the last day of the measured week was nearly 2 weeks ago, and the first day of the measured week nearly 3 weeks ago).

Live+7 (L+7, L7) ratings

These are the live program ratings with a full week of DVR viewing factored in.  Popular if for no other reason than whatever numbers are reported this one will be the biggest!

None of the program ratings are COMMERCIAL ratings, but which program ratings are the best proxy?

Some people will say “well, since the commercial ratings include 3 days of DVR, the best proxy for the commercial ratings would be the Live+3 program ratings!” Those people would be right if commercial ratings and program ratings measured the same thing, but they don’t, and they aren’t the best proxy of them.

Of the program ratings, the best proxy for commercial ratings plus 3 days is actually the LIVE viewing with no commercial viewing factored in. And I’m not saying that makes it necessarily a good proxy, just the best one of the program ratings. Sadly, for cable shows, we can’t easily get our hands on Live program ratings even if we wanted to. The live COMMERCIAL ratings which are pretty much never seen in the wild or the Live+SD COMMERCIAL ratings would make the best proxy for the C3 commercial ratings, but alas, nobody sees those. Good news though – C3 numbers are so rarely available in the wild that they’re not worth sweating over either!

Update: USA's head of research Ted Linhart tweets they find the Live+SD program ratings the best proxy of the C3 ratings. That's even better (for us) since that's the most commonly reported/available metric.

Because Relative Ratings Matter, Live+SD Program Ratings Are A Great Proxy of How a Show Is Doing

How a show is doing is generally measured in terms of how other shows on that network do. But because cable networks generally air so much less original programming than their broadcast cousins, relative ratings alone don’t always tell the tale, it’s still easy to predict at the extremes (nobody spends any time wondering if The Walking Dead or Sons of Anarchy and are going to get renewed, at least around here, and we talked in about a renewal for Terriers with terms like “Miracle.”), but shows that toil in the middle of those extremes (and The Americans is setting up to do just that) frequently can’t be reliably predicted, so we don’t.

But what is the most important audience measure?

For advertising supported networks like FX, the C3 ratings which are almost never seen are the most important. That’s how they get paid. While the Live+SD ratings might not be an excellent proxy for the commercial ratings, they are still a darn good proxy for relative comparisons. Almost none of us have ever seen the C3 ratings for Sons of Anarchy or Justified, but you can comfortably know that the C3 ratings for SOA are higher than the C3 ratings for Justified which are higher than the C3 ratings for The Americans which are higher (at least currently) than the C3 ratings for Anger Management.

Though it is unseen by us, the live program ratings for advertising supported networks are still very, very important (and I’d argue most important) because most (overwhelmingly) commercial viewing comes from live viewing.

It’s easier to be HBO than USA, FX, TNT, etc.

Live viewing of the premiere telecast doesn’t matter much (it could be argued it doesn’t matter at all) to HBO since they don’t sell commercial spots. What matters to HBO is happy subscribers and more of them. The truth is you can still tell what the most popular HBO shows are from how the premiere telecasts fare, but it’s pretty typical for HBO that most of the viewing of a show does not happen in the premiere telecast.  So, even though the premiere telecast of a new episode of Games or Thrones might have the single largest aggregate audience, it could be that 70% of the viewing for that episode happens via DVR, encores, on-demand/HBO Go. And guess what, HBO is perfectly content with that!

It’s much, much rougher on the advertising supported networks if it plays out like that. If 70% of the viewing of Suits isn’t live, that’s much worse for USA than HBO. HBO doesn’t care because it still adds up to happy customers. In this completely made up example*, USA can (and would!) celebrate the overall popularity of the show, but internally they wouldn’t be nearly as joyous as the folks at HBO because effectively that means “Hey, we have this show viewers love, but we can’t monetize most of the viewing.”  Not a fun place to be.

* in actuality, and in round numbers, based on eyeballing it has been more the case that USA’s shows have 60+% of their viewing happen Live+SD (we don’t see the pure live ratings) and while shows like White Collar can frequently see 75% jumps in ratings from the L+SD numbers to L+7, that still means ~60% of the viewing was L+SD. Made up example: let’s say Suits had 1.5 million viewers adults 18-49 in the Live+SD ratings that jumped to 2.6 million in the L+7 – that’s a 73% jump, but one that means that most of the viewing, 58% in this case, was still L+SD (1.5/2.6).

What about On Demand, Internet, iTunes, etc?

Nielsen has made strides to include any commercial viewing on demand or online within three days so long as the same national commercial ads that ran in the original telecast are included.  Remember, the Nielsen TV ratings aren’t attempting to measure the overall popularity of a show, their primary purpose for advertiser supported shows is to measure the number of people who watched the commercials. So while something like iTunes does get counted somewhere, because it has no commercials, it isn’t counted in the Nielsen TV ratings, nor should it be.

There’s always a fair bit of squawking  about the need for better measurement from TV executives, and a fair bit of those complaints are reasonable. But it should be noted there’s always a relative dearth of any such complaints from the advertisers.  Measurement can always be improved, but I’ve thought for quite a while that mostly the squawking about it from executives at TV networks is usually a slight-of-hand distraction technique from other realities.

One of those realities, and a cumbersome and annoying one for the advertising supported TV nets is that at this point, TV networks can’t easily monetize a lot of their viewers. Even if it’s not “most of the viewers” that they can’t easily monetize, it’s often still a significant chunk of them. Another reality appears to be that for all the squawking over measurement, advertisers really don’t want to pay as much for ads that don’t run on TV. My best guess at this point is that the reason that most of the stuff I watch on demand within three days still doesn’t have full commercial loads isn’t because it can’t be measured, but because advertisers don’t want to pay for it the same way as TV even if it can be measured.

It’s easier (and I’d argue better) for the TV executives to complain publicly about Nielsen who the TV networks pay, rather than the advertisers, who pay the TV networks!

All hope is not lost, though It’ll probably get uglier before it gets prettier (if it ever does)

While the fictional situation I outlined above where an advertising supported network has shows where most of the viewing can’t be monetized, is fictional, it’s definitely true that there are a lot of viewers who can’t be monetized.  This is a problem for the networks. But that fictional example has a silver lining, at least in theory. If you have a bunch of hugely popular shows, even if you can’t monetize a lot of the viewing via advertising, the more popular shows you have, in theory, the more you can obtain in carriage fees (the amount DirecTV, Comcast, Time Warner etc. pay the networks per subscriber to carry the network).

But that’s a big pile of money all the networks are vying for and there are many complexities – e.g. Comcast owns several networks so USA isn’t vying for those carriage dollars in a vacuum since Comcast wants all of their networks (Bravo, Syfy, etc) carried, not just some of them.


  • Kids shows and Adult Swim shows are not on the list below
  • I've seen some squawking about shows on the list below that are owned/created by networks/studios outside of the United States. For purposes of this list, which focuses on U.S. cable networks, I'm only focused on where the shows air here in U.S.
  • Shows from overseas like Downton Abbey & Sherlock that air on PBS in the U.S. are not in the list below (PBS is not a cable network), though ITV has renewed Downton Abbey for a 4th season in the UK which will ultimately air in the states.
  • Despite some current inconsistencies in the table below, I do not intend to track episode orders or return dates specifically in this table at this time. The primary goal of the table is: what's been renewed, what's been canceled, and what shows fates haven't been decided yet.

Last Updated February 16, 2013

Most of the shows on the list have statuses - if there isn't a status that just means there has been no announcement at the time of the most recent update (see date at top of post and/or above the table below).


Show Network Current / Last Season Status
Breakout Kings A&E 2 Canceled after 2nd season
Glades, The A&E 3 Renewed for a 4th season
Longmire A&E 1 Renewed for a 2nd season
Baby Daddy ABCFAM 1 Renewed for a 2nd season
Bunheads ABCFAM 1
Jane by Design ABCFAM 1 Cancelled after 1st season
Lying Game, The ABCFAM 2
Melissa & Joey ABCFAM 2 Renewed for a 3rd season
Pretty Little Liars ABCFAM 3 Renewed for a 4th season
Secret Life of the American Teenager ABCFAM 5 Upcoming 2nd half of 5th season will be its last
Switched at Birth ABCFAM 2
Breaking Bad AMC 5 Ending after 5th season
Hell on Wheels AMC 2 Renewed for a 10 episode 3rd Season
Mad Men AMC 5 Renewed for a 6th season
The Killing AMC 2 Renewed for a 12 episode 3rd Season
The Walking Dead AMC 3 Renewed for a 4th Season
Bedlam BBCA 2
Being Human BBCA 4 Renewed for a 6 Episode 5th Season
Copper BBCA 1 Renewed for a 2nd season
Doctor Who BBCA 7 7th Season Resumes March 30th, 2013
Luther BBCA 2 Renewed for 4 Episode 3rd Season
The Hour BBCA 2 Canceled after 2nd season
Ripper Street BBCA 1 Renewed for an 8 episode 2nd season
Game, The BET 5 Renewed for a 6th season
Let's Stay Together BET 2 Renewed for a 3rd Season
Real Husbands of Hollywood BET 1
Reed Between the Lines BET 1 Renewed for a 2nd Season
Second Generation Wayans BET 1
Futurama CMDY 7 Second half of 26 episode S7 still to air in 2013
Kroll Show CMDY 1 Renewed for a 2nd season
South Park CMDY 16 Renewed through 20th season (2016)
Workaholics CMDY 3 Renewed for 13 episode 4th & 5th Seasons
American Horror Story FX 2 Renewed for a 13 hour third season
Americans, The FX 1
Anger Management FX 2 Renewed for a total of 100 episodes including first season
Archer FX 4
It's Always Sunny... FX 8 Renewedfor a 9th season
Justified FX 4
League, The FX 4 Renewed for a 13 episode 5th season
Legit FX 1
Louie FX 3 Renewed for a 4th season but will not return until 2014
Sons of Anarchy FX 5 Renewed for a 6th season
Unsupervised FX 1 Cancelled according to Glenn Howerton
Wilfred FX 2 Renewed for a 3rd Season
Boardwalk Empire HBO 3 Renewed for a 4th season
Bored to Death HBO 3 Canceled after 3rd season
Curb Your Enthusiasm HBO 8 Unknown. "It's always up to Larry," says HBO
Eastbound & Down HBO 3 Renewed for a 4th season
Enlightened HBO 2
Game of Thrones HBO 2 Renewed for a 10 episode 3rd Season
Girls HBO 2 Renewed for 12 episode 3rd season
How to Make it in America HBO 2 Canceled after 2nd season
Hung HBO 3 Canceled after 3rd season
Newsroom HBO 1 Renewed for a 2nd season
Treme HBO 3 Renewed for 5 episode 4th and final season
True Blood HBO 5 Renewed for a 10 episode 6th season
Veep HBO 1 Renewed for a 10 episode 2nd season
Bullet in the Face IFC 1
Portlandia IFC 3
Todd Margaret IFC 2 Ended after 2nd season
Army Wives LIFE 6 Renewed for a 13 episode 7th season
Client List, The LIFE 1 Renewed for a 15 episode 2nd season
Drop Dead Diva LIFE 4 Canceled after 4th season
Banshee MAX 1 Renewed for a 2nd season
Hunted MAX 1 BBC One not moving forward with 2nd season, Cinemax is considering its options.
Strike Back MAX 2 Renewed for a 3rd Season
Awkward MTV 2 Renewed for 20 episode 3rd season
Beavis and Butt-Head MTV
The Inbetweeners MTV 1 canceled after 1st season
Teen Wolf MTV 2 Renewed for 24 episode 3rd season
Underemployed MTV 1
Californication SHO 6 Renewed for a 7th Season
Dexter SHO 7 Renewed for an 8th (and presumed final) Season
Episodes SHO 2 Renewed for a 3rd season, But Probably Not Returning until early 2014
Homeland SHO 2 Renewed for 12 episode 3rd season
House of Lies SHO 2 Renewed for a 3rd Season
Nurse Jackie SHO 4 Renewed for a 5th season
Shameless SHO 3 Renewed for a 4th season
The Big C SHO 3 Renewed for a 4th and final season
The Borgias SHO 2 Renewed for a 10 episode 3rd Season
Web Therapy SHO 2 Renewed for a 10 episode 3rd Season
Weeds SHO 8 Series concluded after 8th season
Alphas SYFY 2 Canceled after 2nd season
Being Human SYFY 3
Continuum SYFY 1 Already renewed for a 2nd season in Canada
Eureka SYFY 5 Canceled After 5th Season
Haven SYFY 3 Renewed for a 13 episode 4th season
Lost Girl SYFY 3
Merlin SYFY 5 Ending after 5th season
Sanctuary SYFY 4 Cancelled after 4th season
Warehouse 13 SYFY 4 S4 expanded to 20 episodes (half have aired)
Boss STARZ 2 Canceled after 2nd season
Magic City STARZ 1 Renewed for a 10 episode 2nd season
Spartacus STARZ 4 Renewed for a 4th and final season
Cougar Town TBS 4
Men at Work TBS 1 Renewed for a 10 episode 2nd season
Sullivan & Son TBS 1 Renewed for a 10 episode 2nd season
Tyler Perrys: For Better or Worse TBS 2 currently airing *35* episode 2nd season
Tyler Perrys: House of Payne TBS 8 concluded after 8th season
Wedding Band TBS 1 Cancelled after 1st season
Dallas TNT 2
Falling Skies TNT 2 Renewed for a 3rd Season
Franklin & Bash TNT 2 Renewed for a 3rd Season
Leverage TNT 5 Cancelled after 5th season
Major Crimes TNT 1 Renewed for a 15 episode 2nd season
Monday Mornings TNT 1
Perception TNT 1 Renewed for a 13 episode 2nd season
Rizzoli & Isles TNT 3 Renewed for a 15 episode fourth season
Southland TNT 5
The Closer TNT 7 Concluded after 7th season
Exes, The TVLAND 2 Renewed for a 10 episode 3rd season
Happily Divorced TVLAND 2
Hot in Cleveland TVLAND 4
Retired at 35 TVLAND 2 Canceled after 2nd season
Soul Man, The TVLAND 1 Renewed for a 10 episode 2nd season.
Burn Notice USA 6 renewed for a 13 episode 7th season
Common Law USA 1 canceled after 1st season
Covert Affairs USA 3 Renewed for a 16 episode fourth season
Fairly Legal USA 2 Canceled after 2nd season
In Plain Sight USA 5 Canceled After 5th Season
Necessary Roughness USA 2 Renewed for a 10 episode 3rd Season
Political Animals USA 1 mini-series, USA says there won't be more
Psych USA 6 Renewed for an 8th season, S7 premieres 2/27/13
Royal Pains USA 4 Renewed for 5th & 6th Seasons (26 episodes total)
Suits USA 2 Renewed for a 16 episode 3rd season
White Collar USA 4 Renewed for a 16 episode 5th season
Single Ladies VH1 2 Renewed for a 3rd season


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  • silvit

    So nothing new, same old same old. We already knew that advertisers pay for C3 and not live+ same day.

    Alan Sepinwall isn’t saying anything we didn’t know. He’s just trying to pimp a show that is underperforming in the ratings not mentioning that live+ 3 days =/= C3.
    Good try though. ;-)
    Jedi trick… :-)

  • http://tvbythenumbers.com Robert Seidman

    @Silvit: I read Alan’s whole piece and don’t think he was trying to deceive anyone or pimping the show (at least not based on its ratings) or has even necessarily been deceived by the Jedis himself. The thing with ratings is it’s easier to talk about them in imprecise terms and, sadly, a chore to talk about them in precise terms.

  • Rocco

    The other day I was thinking they should have given Terriers a name like The Americans. If they fail, it won’t be because of the name of the show.

    I’m not a big fan of the guy that plays the husband, but I do like this show. Even though it borrows from Homeland and Breaking Bad, and totally steals the title sequence from Homeland, it’s pluses outweigh its negatives. I just wish it didn’t come on at the same time as Nashville. I can’t miss either show. Thank you DVR.

  • Alan S

    Alan is usually a straight shooter, I’m surprised he’s falling into the excuse game. All these tv reviewers are @maskedscheduler acolytes, so they buy whatever he’s pushing and he (and FOX) are big on L+3 right now to make their shows look bigger than the other networks.

  • Common Anomaly

    Bomb Girls – Reelz – 1 – Renewed for 12 episode 2nd season – March 27, 2013
    True Justice – Reelz – 2 – Currently airing 13 episode 2nd season
    XIII – Reelz – 1 – Renewed for 13 episode 2nd season – March 29, 2013

  • Anna Bones Clarkwood

    Do the advertisers i.e Pepsi & Toyota etc get to know how each individual ad spot did in any demo they ask for?

    As far as getting a better system, is it at all reasonably possible to measure if the viewers of any age/gender/income/ethnicity etc reacted to the product offered? Meaning did they go to the movies/buy it later, end up choosing Toyota over Ford, McD’s over BK, Pepsi over Coke etc?

    IMO, those 20yr survey companies who track a family/person over a long length of time would probably do a lot better than Nielsen in regards to the advertisers if given commercial viewing data along with the viewers responses and actual buying habits. Now, this may be already be occurring but probably more focused towards does the ad itself work b/c it airs on multiple shows and multiple networks. But if the advertisers could see on which show & time the ad spot was most effective/seen in the first place that would allow them much more ability to monetize the viewers and thus the actual “demo’s” of today would become far less important and new “demo’s” would arise. Such as the 13yr old with B-Day Money and the 60yr old who took his grandkids both of whom spent their $ at McDonalds or the Movies same with 25yr grad student who needed a place to grad some cheap food combined with what ad spot they actually reacted to. True, the adage is it takes 7 ads to get a response. Which means all 7 ad spots were what did it. Meaning, the survey company would have to account for all viewings, including other forms such as online, billboards, benches, newspapers etc. None of these “demo’s” will ever include millions as they are today but are far more important/specific than the stereotypical demo of today. This will allow advertisers to see just which specific shows really result in actual responses. It may be that the demo of today shows that a 1.5 can compete with a 2.5. Obviously, it can’t compete with a 5.5 b/c there has to be enough responses to over match a lowly 1.5 with that much more actual demo. Also, it may show that ageism in regards to advertisement response does exist, esp in regards to 10mil viewers of a 1.5 vs 5mil of 2.5.

    Until a survey of that extensive research is done or something similar, I am not convinced that when ABC convinced advertisers that 18-49 was the demo that translates best in regards to response is actually 100% true. I’m sure that it is the easiest/cheapest way to say get results that are mostly true. And, since everything is measured in relation to other shows on the same network and b/c advertisers like Pepsi and Toyota are so big they buy ad spots on virtually every show on every network there really in no real reason to bother with such an extensive/costly survey when the accuracy while improved probably won’t change the end results that much.

    Meaning, while we can complain about Nielsen not measuring response accurately, their actual measurement of response esp in relation of show vs show & network vs network is fine enough and not worth getting more accurate to account for the males over 49 that respond to the latest Chick Flick Movie ad spot during Glee or the females who responded to the latest Beer Ad Spot during Person Of Interest.

  • Shepherd

    I miss Terriers and Lights out too. I even thought Lights Out had a chance at renewal.


    I just don’t get what “as tl;dr” (from the post title) means though. ??

  • Nick

    My predictions-

    Bunheads: Likely Cancellation
    Lying Game, The: Likely Renewal
    Switched At Birth: Certain Renewal

    Americans, The: Likely Renewal
    Archer: Certain Renewal
    Justified: Certain Renewal
    Legit : Likely Cancellation

    Being Human: Likely Renewal

    Cougar Town: Certain Renewal

    Dallas: Likely Renewal
    Monday Mornings: Likely Cancellation

    Happily Divorced: On the Bubble
    Hot In Cleveland: Certain Renewal

    This week, I’ve moved Happily Divorced to on the bubble. I know it’s probably not going anywhere, but they’ve got a really buzzy new show and they may want to clean house. Hot in Cleveland is still certain renewal because it’s their flagship.
    Also, Monday Mornings is now likely cancelled because it’s been steady, and it’s cable. Who knows what’s going to happen?

  • omabin

    Cool Read. Nothing I didn’t know, but still enjoyed it.

  • http://tvbythenumbers.com Robert Seidman

    @Shepherd: “tl;dr” is internet slang for “too long; didn’t read.” Usually its used in reference to long comments, but more often than not (sadly for me) also appropriate for posts like the one above.

    @Anna: to my knowledge the commercial ratings currently are still the average rating of all commercials that aired in the program. The per spot measure is something that the advertisers want, and Nielsen is (I believe) working and it may even be available now, but it isn’t part of the C3 ratings as far as I know. You, like many, make leaps you shouldn’t make though – one example: ABC didn’t convince advertisers that 18-49 is the demo they should pay for, that is the demographic (and subsets of it, like 18-34) that the advertisers typically *want* to pay for in broadcast primetime (cable networks work a bit differently and many of them sell based on 25-54 and other demographics). ABC and any ad supported network would rather that the advertisers wanted to pay for ALL viewers than specific demos. It’s the advertisers who don’t want to do that.

    Common Anomaly: for now, I don’t see adding Reelz to this list, but we’ll see…

  • Nick


    I don’t see adding Reelz to this list, but we’ll see…

    Why not? You have BBC America, which is also mostly imported programming.

  • Anna Bones Clarkwood

    @Robert It’s good to know that the advertisers do want what I am asking for or at least something similar and that you think Nielsen is working on it and may even have it available to those advertisers. I understand that we would never get that data and would still have to rely on our normal demo’s for analysis. Which is fine enough, but the networks and advertisers can and should have more accurate data behind the scenes, even beyond C3 IMO, which we also rarely see, to help these multi million dollar shows, esp those that have yet to make it to s3 aka almost syndication and have yet to make back the money in a syndication deal/ad revenue.

    I know Wiki isn’t to be wholly trusted, then again our own history books aren’t to be trusted either as they aren’t written by impartial first hand knowledge for the most part, however I read on Wiki that ABC, namely chief Leonard Goldeson, was the Network that convinced advertisers into the 18-49 demo.


    “Neal Gabler at the Norman Lear Center as well as Benjamin Shapiro, author of Primetime Propaganda: The True Hollywood Story of How the Left Took Over Your TV, have argued that the empirical evidence shows that for advertisers the 18-49 or 18-34 viewers are not more important, and may even be less important, than older viewers. The importance of the 18-49 market was originally promoted by ABC as a way of increasing advertising revenue since ABC was weak on on overall viewers but strong among younger viewers.[22][23][24]”

    22. http://learcenter.org/pdf/Gabler18to49.pdf

    “In fact, as top executives admitted to me on tape, the original argument for the young demographic was driven not by fact but by necessity — ABC had low ratings and needed desperately to gin up ad bucks. They lied about the value of younger urban numbers in order to achieve that goal. And the rest of the industry bought in because they were young, urban liberals.”

    23. http://www.nationalreview.com/articles/269181/switching-tv-right-interview?pg=1

    24. http://frontpagemag.com/2011/jamie-glazov/primetime-propaganda/
    The whole 21 page article is full of solid arguments but page 15 is where the ABC convince 18-49 to the advertisers is.

    So, yes Networks (namely CBS since they have that advantage) “would rather that the advertisers wanted to pay for ALL viewers than specific demos.” But, ABC didn’t have the viewer advantage that CBS & NBC had way back when esp CBS, who all but 1 yr in a 20yr span 1955-1976 was the total viewer leader and thus they, aka ABC head Leonard Goldenson, decided to get the advertisers on board with 18-49 etc b/c that is where they (ABC) had the advantage. FOX and later UPN/WB along with Nielsen’s People Meter in 1987 helped push the 18-49 demo for more relevance b/c they all couldn’t compete with CBS and NBC but initially ABC and later the other networks (FOX/UPN/WB) did attract more young viewers than CBS/NBC.

    Note, if Wiki and these 3 sources are wrong, my bad. I haven’t done the research myself. However, it appears as if they did and they make a lot of very solid arguments, well worth the read for all TVBTN readers who argue about demo emphasis. 22 & 23 are interviews for the same book and 24 is a very very long read w/o any breaks/chapters.

  • http://tvbythenumbers.com Robert Seidman

    @Nick: because more people watch/are interested BBC’s originals and I’m trying to strike a balance that makes it easy to continue managing the list versus the alternative of stopping these posts altogether. But as I said, we’ll see…

  • Kyle7

    @Robert: As much as anything linked on Wikipedia can be trusted, there are a couple of sources for the claim that ABC pushed the 18-49 demographic because they were losing the overall viewer battle but competing much better in 18-49 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nielsen_ratings#cite_note-22. I also found this blog post: http://www.mediapost.com/publications/article/192164/boom-time-for-boomers.html?print#axzz2L6ueaNPW claiming the same thing, though it doesn’t source anything. It’s possible that’s all wrong (indeed, the wiki sources seem to be conservatives raging about how liberal Hollywood is), but it’s not an out-of-the-blue claim.

  • Tom

    I really enjoy “The Americans”. It surprises me that a Cold War era drama has a decent demo because I expected the audience for a show of this genre to skew heavily toward older viewers with some first hand recollection of the events occurring during the early 80’s. The cast members are great and have been successful in creating viewer empathy for their characters. However, in many respects, this makes it easy to forget that they aren’t the good guys. Watching sinister events unfold from the opposing team’s bench is a welcome departure from the usual 007 spy stuff, so I hope this program sticks around for a while.

  • http://tvbythenumbers.com Robert Seidman

    @Kyle7/Anna: I was born in the 1960s, but think of the television business in terms of 2013. I don’t dispute the Wiki historical accounting that ABC pushed for whatever was to its advantage 40-50 years ago. But beyond the history lesson, legacy/inertia on the advertisers part (which surely exists) and it being a “be careful what you wish for and remember it every time you see the ratings for Dancing with the Stars!” I don’t see it as very relevant to today’s landscape.

  • Jonay

    You must really want the Americans to succeed?!!! :)

  • Shepherd

    Boy, I’m an idiot! I must have read the article three times thinking I somehow missed a clue to the answer. It never occurred to me to simply Google it! Live and learn.

  • http://tvbythenumbers.com Robert Seidman

    @Shepherd: nah, the first time I saw it used I had to use Google to find out what it meant too!

    @Jonay: based on the first three episodes, I definitely hope it is renewed.

  • Anna Bones Clarkwood

    @Robert, true, advertisers & networks spend way too much money to just go along with what ABC pushed (turns out Dick Clark’s American Bandstand & then Happy Days helped as well) if they didn’t actually believe in it and see results. Maybe for a year or two but not 40+yrs later.

    Which means, right or wrong, the advertisers and thus the networks do trust these demos do equal more money that is also hard to get.

    Problem with that is according to research done by

    22. http://learcenter.org/pdf/Gabler18to49.pdf

    shows that in actuality, older viewers have more discretionary income & are more wiling to change brands. Realize also that there is a fine balance btwn brand loyalty & changing each time a new commercial turns on. Also, more and more people are looking for the best deal rather than the same brand. Also, if it’s about hard to reach viewers then teens are even harder same with those that make over $60K/yr. So much more in that 21 page publication, of which I read a good 10 pages but it’s best you read it yourself rather than I try an regurgitate whatever my mind can recall, esp for it’s accuracy, which is lacking.

    So, ABC made the push 40years ago. Maybe NBC or heck ABC again needs to figure out the next marketing ploy to pull over the advertisers eyes*. That is, if they have anything to offer that CBS doesn’t have. They have somewhat started with ABC being home to a lot of over $100K income household viewers.

    *That’s not to say that the advertising firms are dumb and didn’t verify ABC’s claim that back in the 70s it was a good idea for advertisers to target the 18-49 demo. It’s just that according to the research done by Neal Gabler is saying that at least nowadays, that is not the case anymore.

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