‘The Americans’ as tl;dr “Ratings 101” Lesson – Scripted Cable Renew/Cancel Status Through February 15, 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.)
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:
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|
|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|
|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|
|Anger Management||FX||2||Renewed for a total of 100 episodes including first season|
|It’s Always Sunny…||FX||8||Renewedfor a 9th season|
|League, The||FX||4||Renewed for a 13 episode 5th season|
|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|
|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|
|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|
|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|
|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|
|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|
|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|
|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|
|Perception||TNT||1||Renewed for a 13 episode 2nd season|
|Rizzoli & Isles||TNT||3||Renewed for a 15 episode fourth season|
|The Closer||TNT||7||Concluded after 7th season|
|Exes, The||TVLAND||2||Renewed for a 10 episode 3rd season|
|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|