Fear the Sun! What Will Daylight Saving Time Do To Your Favorite Show's Ratings?

Categories: Broadcast TV,TV Ratings Reference

Written By

March 6th, 2013

With the advent of Daylight Saving Time at 2am Sunday, expect to see early primetime TV ratings get a haircut next week as people stay away from home a bit later in the evenings.

In 2012, the first Monday after DST saw 6.8% fewer adults 18-49 watching TV in the 8pm hour, and 2.4% fewer adults 18-49 watching TV in the 9pm hour than the previous (standard time) Monday.

Was it all due to Daylight Saving Time? Your guess is good as mine.

Will that excuse save your show? Or is it futile Fan Excuse Bingo? Only time will tell.

First Monday AFTER DST (3/12/12) - Daylight Saving Time
Portion of Adults 18-49 watching TV at 8pm: 34.5%
Portion of Adults 18-49 watching TV at 9pm: 40.1%

Last Monday BEFORE DST (3/5/12) - Standard Time
Portion of Adults 18-49 watching TV at 8pm: 37.0%
Portion of Adults 18-49 watching TV at 9pm: 41.1%

 
  • fringewillget5seasons

    I don’t even wanna see the DST numbers this season. Expecting cringe worthy results and plenty of mockery towards Fox’s shoddy comedies and NBC’s entire lineup.

  • jen

    I wonder if CBS will have another mass renewal this week. My own personal wackjob theory (based on no evidence or inside knowlledge. Hey, I fit right in!) is that CBS renewed everything early last year to avoid the endless hanwringing over slightly lowered ratings. I think it really took the negative focus off of them. In television perception matters.

  • zth

    @Bob: The Voice might not be as high as in the fall due to the end of March start, but it will destroy American Idol’s numbers.

  • Baaa!

    The ratings have been dropping or erratic as the daylight keeps increasing already. Its not dark here until almost 6pm (Central) now, used to be 5pm and its affected my habits for sure. DST just makes what would be a slow progression into a big drop.

  • Fake Me Out

    @Ultima

    “…significant portion of the commenters will be shocked and confused by this, even though the same thing happens every year!”

    If this in fact the case then perhaps Bill & Robert should set-up a TVbtN Stonehenge of sorts to mark the coming of spring & DST … the easily confused could then prepare and make sacrifices to the TV gods to appease their anger.

  • NBC Fan

    Some of my favorite shows will be affected:

    Once Upon a Time
    The Simpsons
    The Middle
    Community

  • Shepherd

    @Ultima

    I predict that we will see widespread lows due to Daylight Saving Time as well as the start of spring. I also predict that a significant portion of the commenters will be shocked and confused by this, even though the same thing happens every year! ;)

    LOL, ditto. :)

  • Dan S

    I expect to see a drop particularly in the 8pm hour. The fate of a lot of shows has likely already been decided so the only shows to worry about are either on the bubble or are spring tryouts. What’ll be interesting is how the major networks fare with more original programming like Unforgettable & Under The Dome on CBS this summer.

  • Anna Bones Clarkwood

    Has anyone speculated that it is b/c a lot of shows only show 4 (out of 8) episodes during Mar/Apr?

    If there is less original programming available, like during Christmas Break & of course Summer, more people are going to not turn on the tv.

    Note, I’m not saying that increased daylight in the evenings doesn’t help the casual tv viewers, but for the couch potatoes, if given all new episodes, I doubt will keep the tv off just b/c their is more daylight.

  • Ultima

    @Anna Bones Clarkwood
    Has anyone speculated that it is b/c a lot of shows only show 4 (out of 8) episodes during Mar/Apr?

    Even shows that are new every week have drops as the spring goes on.

  • Anna Bones Clarkwood

    Ultima, yes but is the weekly avg drop of Apr/May that much more than the Jan/Feb drop?

    We all should know that Nov* is less than Oct* (demo/viewership wise). Which b/c Oct has more daylight that shouldn’t make sense according to Spring DST theorists.

    One would think that “most every” series, naturally has a decline not only season to season but month to month as well as more and more people are less interested in the show & don’t watch it live or at all. If it’s not “new” or “hip”, a significant portion of viewers attention span moves on to the next “new” or “hip” show. So, obviously, during a particular 36 week season, those last 12 weeks are going to be the lowest, until the next season.

    Not to mention this also includes the Spring New shows that have gone past the first few high weeks & since they are Spring replacement shows they don’t get pulled quite as quickly as their fall counterparts.

    *I excluded Sep b/c of premiere week is obviously an aberration & Dec b/c that is def start of real Holiday Shopping.

  • Joseph

    Four reasons:

    (1) Longer daylight in the evening.

    (2) Warmer weather.

    (3) Outdoor activities really begin to start up.

    (4) Many more reruns (except during the May sweeps).

    Of these, I think reason #4 is the main one, although the other three do contribute.

  • Samunto

    And that after the whole season we’ve been reading how show x hit a series/season low. That was mostly saved for spring. Meaning It’ll be series lows all over the place.

    OUAT, THe Good Wife, Idol…

  • Ultima

    @Anna Bones Clarkwood

    Here’s the best current example I can give of the spring ratings drop – The Big Bang Theory last season.

    Winter airings – 5.3, 5.3, 5.5, 5.5, 5.6, 5.1, 5.3, 5.1

    Post-DST airings – 4.7, 4.4, 4.1, 4.7, 4.4

    This is a hit show that’s up year-to-year this season, so people growing disinterested in the show isn’t going to be responsible for that big of a drop.

    Also, because of the show’s high ratings, you can actually see the noise in the week-to-week ratings (which can be obscured due to rounding error at lower ratings levels). It’s very obvious there isn’t a steady decline going on, but rather a steep drop from winter to spring.

    Obviously, nicer weather and DST aren’t the only reason for spring ratings to be down. Like you said, most shows do experience a general decline as the season goes on. It’s important to keep that in mind – DST/spring ratings decline is an actual phenomenon, but it’s not a magic excuse that makes bad ratings meaningless.

  • Anna Bones Clarkwood

    @Ultima, thanks for your reply. You make a lot of solid points that make sense but let me throw some thoughts you way.

    By Winter, you are including Jan/Fed, right? Based on episode total, my guess is also Dec as well.

    I agree “low to mids 5s” to “mid 4s is def” a “more than avg” drop. Unless, fall ratings were low 6s, which since just this year was the 6s a regular thing (for a short while in Jan), that means it wasn’t an avg drop.

    Since you only give 1 example, that is not enough data points to form a solid result on. It could be an aberration.

    You say that this is a “hit show” as your reasoning for why ppl didn’t grow disinterested in it as being responsible for that big of a drop. I wonder if that’s really the case. New viewers via Syndication & b/c of it’s already Top Tier Ratings could have replaced the natural disinterested viewers.

    Yes, week to week can mean that during say 1/4 of a season can have a high, low & a bunch of mediums, all mixed up. It’s more the month to month & fall to winter to spring that I’m talking about as far as “natural decline”. Yes, they are also obscured (up or down) b/c of rounding. When I read the summary, as long as it’s only 1 tenth w/n last week, I say that’s meaningless. Now, if it’s constantly going one direction, then it matters. So, in actuality, it would be better if we were given an analysis compared to 4 episodes ago. The week to week is better for special guests, extra commercial exposure & last weeks plot lines analysis to see if any of that had an affect.

    Yes, Springs Ratings decline is an actual phenomenon, but I doubt that a majority is b/c of nicer weather/DST b/c of the fact that episodes 2-5 are higher than 6-9. 2-5 it is still nice out & the sun is still not setting too early. I do agree 100% with you that “it’s not a magic excuse that makes bad ratings meaningless”.

    To me, as of right now, DST excuse is just like the Valentine’s Day & Thanksgiving excuses. There is some basis & evidence for the excuses, but they don’t have really have an effect on renewal/cancel chances nor should it be an actual excuse since it affects most all shows.

  • Fart

    My Balls Itch.

  • Ultima

    @Anna Bones Clarkwood
    By Winter, you are including Jan/Fed, right? Based on episode total, my guess is also Dec as well.

    I consider winter to be the first week of January (when shows return from hiatus) until DST starts.

    I agree “low to mids 5s” to “mid 4s is def” a “more than avg” drop. Unless, fall ratings were low 6s

    Fall ratings for TBBT last season were 4.9 average (high 5.3, low 4.5).

    The ratings are similar this year – winter is up significantly from the fall. That’s primarily due to the competition from Thursday Night Football though. But if you look at other shows on non-Football nights, it’s not unusual for the winter numbers to look like the fall numbers.

    To me, as of right now, DST excuse is just like the Valentine’s Day & Thanksgiving excuses. There is some basis & evidence for the excuses, but they don’t have really have an effect on renewal/cancel chances nor should it be an actual excuse since it affects most all shows.

    Right. It’s a valid (non-excuse) reason as to why the ratings are down (HUT/PUT levels are clearly lower). It only becomes an excuse when it’s used in an attempt to explain away low ratings relative to other shows.

    It’s basically like the Live+7 DVR excuse – yes, the show does better, but ALL shows do better! Yes, the ratings ard down due to DST/spring, but everything’s ratings are down, so it doesn’t excuse being below average!

    All that said, it ends up not coming up much as an excuse – by springtime, the deluded have a whole year’s worth of excuses for their soon to be canceled shows at the ready!

    On the other hand, there’s much panic about certain shows having massive drops (OMG! Big Bang is down 25%!!!11!) as well as mass shock and confusion about how low all the ratings are and the predictable claims that that the end is nigh. Explaining why and that all is well is usually futile however. ;)

  • Cory

    It wouldn’t be unsual for the show to have better ratings in spring, although those examples are rare like DH, ER, Friends (all season 1)

  • Tori

    Doubt the drop will be as significant this year. Last year was not just an additional hour of daylight, it was coupled with the warmest winter we’d almost ever had. It’s not as nice this year, so unless there’s a decent spike in temps to coincide with springing forward, I’m thinking it won’t be as much of a factor this year.

  • Richard Steven Hack

    Doesn’t look like a serious decline in viewers to me: a mere 7 percent at 8PM and 2.5% at 9PM? That’s probably ALMOST within the margin of error for ratings measurements anyway.

    Probably should not rely on it to explain why a show then loses ten percent or more of its ratings this spring…If that happens, it means the shows ratings are collapsing.

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