RC3

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

Categories: RC3,TV Advertising,TV Ratings Reference

Written By

October 13th, 2013

This is a seasonal post that I do about the PR Jedi Mind Tricks played by network PR departments with Live+7 Day DVR ratings. Read it, and don't be played for a weak minded fool.

The PR avalanche of Live+7 Day DVR ratings for the season has begun today (Live+3 ratings have been upon us for weeks but are likely to become scarce soon as Live+7 takes over), and it's instructive to remember that the ratings that the advertisers pay for (the C+3 commercial ratings) differ very little from the Live+Same Day program ratings for the networks and most of their shows.

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 (or at least it was, it might become Sunday this season) the Live + 7 ratings press release day in the TV business, so I thought I'd pass along an analysis of Live+Same Day (Live+SD) 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 network average numbers from premiere week (September 24-30, 2012) during the 2012-13 season:

  • NBC had a 3.0 C+3 Day commerical rating, a tenth lower than its 3.1 Live+Same Day program rating.
  • CBS had a 2.3 C+3 Day commerical rating, a tenth lower than its 2.4 Live+Same Day program rating.
  • Fox had a 2.5 C+3 Day commerical rating, a tenth higher than its 2.4 Live+Same Day program rating.
  • ABC had a 2.3 C+3 Day commerical rating, a tenth higher than its 2.2 Live+Same Day program rating.

Conclusions:

  • Live+Same Day program ratings are very close to the C+3 commercial ratings for each network, varying only slightly.
  • Live+Same Day program ratings are a very good proxy for the C+3 Day commercial ratings.

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+3 day or Live+7 day ratings matter to the future of your show. They don't!

Those Live+3 day and 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 "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+3 day or 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.

October, 2013 update: Here's a Bib Fortuna-esque quote from a befuddled member of the TV media.

If the ratings for "Hostages" don't jump up when viewing from digital video recorders and video-on-demand is factored in, CBS will probably make a change there.

 
  • tested

    I will point out one obvious interesting note from your data: Fox was tied with CBS in L+SD but alone in #2 in C3 ratings. Which means there is some difference in those numbers that might make some difference in rankings and perhaps revenue. Granted, your post is right, but if we had the C3 numbers readily reported there would be some noteworthy differences on some shows.

  • S.

    Like @maskedscheduler says about , “The rich get richer and the poor are a little less poor”, and he should know.

    The problem is that people see 50% gain on C3 and don’t get that 50% gain for a show that is doing 1.1 is 0.6. That 30% gain for a show doing 1.8, is .45. The show that grew less in percentage is still doing better in ratings than the show that grew more, and still ahead in the race from the cancellation bear.

  • Max Vrany

    @tested, any differences between C+3 and L+SD are negligible. The few times we’ve seen C+3 ratings for individual programs, they’ve been within a tenth of a point compared to L+SD for most shows and *never* more than three-tenths away. Not enough to make a difference.

  • josh

    Here are the network average numbers from premiere week (September 24-30, 2012) during the 2012-13 season:
    •NBC had a 3.0 C+3 Day commerical rating, a tenth lower than its 3.1 Live+Same Day program rating.
    •CBS had a 2.3 C+3 Day commerical rating, a tenth lower than its 2.4 Live+Same Day program rating.
    •Fox had a 2.5 C+3 Day commerical rating, a tenth higher than its 2.4 Live+Same Day program rating.
    •ABC had a 2.3 C+3 Day commerical rating, a tenth higher than its 2.2 Live+Same Day program rating.

    I guess only fox and ABC has benefited of DVR viewing

  • Shepherd

    @josh

    I guess only fox and ABC has benefited of DVR viewing

    Don’t forget that all of these numbers are rounded to the nearest tenth! For all we know, Fox had a 2.44 L+SD and a 2.45 C+3; which round to 2.4 and 2.5 respectively. That’s only an actual difference of .01. I doubt that any of these numbers are truly 1/10 difference.

    All these numbers tell us is that more ABC and FOX viewers who watch via DVR are too stupid to skip commercials than those who watch NBC and CBS. ;-)

  • Joe

    Wouldn’t networks consider the DVR ratings for potential DVD sales and possible syndication?

  • Nick

    This should be circulated everywhere. Far too many people reporting in the industry are actually buying into the executive spin that L+3 and L+7 matter. You almost never need to go beyond the L+SD data to assess whether or not a show will be renewed.

    For those interested, we do already have C3 data for FOX’s first week and Sleepy Hollow was the only show to see a noticeable rise from L+SD (+14%). Bones, Dads, Brooklyn Nine-Nine, and X-Factor were all down while New Girl and The Mindy Project inched up +1% and +2%, respectively.

  • DW

    duh. PR L+7 is like a website each week posting a bear and telling everyone that a low rated show is going to be cancelled. so people will come and view.

  • http://tvbythenumbers.com Robert Seidman

    There’s a big difference between mattering to the networks and mattering to the renewal prospects that we focus on.

    DVR viewing *is* meaningful to the networks. If the live+SD program ratings and C3 commercial ratings are close, that suggests the increase over *live* commercial viewing (that we never see) is measurably greater than 0. It matters not if that number is much (much) closer to 0% than 100% because for the networks, a few % of billions of dollars isn’t anything to sneeze at.

    For similar reasons, the networks are pushing hard to move to C7. The difference between C3 & C7 isn’t much, but again, a few % of billions is real money. That means something to CBS, but absolutely nothing to Hostage’s renewal prospects.

  • MNP

    You know, C+3 seems so arbitrary. In a different universe it could be 7.

  • http://tvbythenumbers.com Bill Gorman

    “You know, C+3 seems so arbitrary. In a different universe it could be 7.”

    It could be 7 tomorrow if the advertisers agreed to it.

    C+3 is the result of negotiations between advertisers (who don’t want to pay for any delayed viewing) and networks (who want to get paid for all of it).

    It’s not a measurement limitation. Nielsen measures and reports up to C+7 Day ratings now.

  • JJF

    I am sure it doesn’t mean anything to a show’s renewal prospects. But when the majority of any network’s lineup is safe anyway, that’s not really an issue. The bottom of the network’s shows will almost always be cancelled every season. But just because something is irrelevant to a show’s survival chances doesn’t make it completely irrelevant for discussion.

  • Morgan Wick

    So, does this article describe a real trend, or is Tim Basinger just being Bib Fortuna? mobile.broadcastingcable.com/article/496019-No_More_One_Night_Stands.php?rssid=20065

  • http://tvbythenumbers.com Bill Gorman

    @Morgan Wick, I modified your URL so it would post, our comment system now blocks clickable URLs.

    And you are correct, that Tim Basinger piece, and particularly the “Analysis” in the table, is all Bib Fortuna. You can almost see the PR Jedi whispering in his ear.

    If the difference between Live+Same Day and Live+3 ratings mattered to the future of scripted shows, we should see it breaking our predictive model (which uses Live+Same Day ratings only) at least a little bit, but there has been no obvious change.

  • JR35

    In my estimation, the numbers matter when combined with Live + Same Day- but certainly not on their own.

    Would it be possible, one of these weeks, to see a top 25 chart combining the reported Live+7 info, with the Live+Same Day Broadcast info for that week? I imagine there wouldn’t be dramatic shakeups in rank compared to the Live+SD, but some programs may make decent moves in position.

  • http://tvbythenumbers.com Bill Gorman

    “Would it be possible, one of these weeks, to see a top 25 chart combining the reported Live+7 info, with the Live+Same Day Broadcast info for that week? I imagine there wouldn’t be dramatic shakeups in rank compared to the Live+SD, but some programs may make decent moves in position.”

    We’re not going to do it, because the effort’s not worth it, but you can do something kinda close.

    Take the latest Live+7 post and then take the Live +SD post from the same week (2 weeks prior) and compare them. They’re not exactly the same shows (because the Live+7 top 25 are the biggest *additions* from DVR viewing), but you can at least see somethings.

    http://tvbythenumbers.zap2it.com/2013/10/13/live7-dvr-ratings-marvels-agents-of-s-h-i-e-l-d-leads-adults-18-49-ratings-increase-sleepy-hollow-tops-total-viewership-gains-the-blacklist-earns-biggest-percentage-increase-in-prem/208745/

    http://tvbythenumbers.zap2it.com/2013/10/01/tv-ratings-broadcast-top-25-sunday-night-football-tops-week-1-with-adults-18-49-and-total-viewers/205802/

  • Some of us just like the data…

    I know it doesn’t “help” the show, but as a connoisseur of the television industry, I like seeing the list of highest L+7 shows out of curiosity. I appreciate your educating viewers on the issue, snark aside, but you also had the list every week it was available last season. It was a nice feature.

  • Kim

    What do you base your cancellation table on? If it’s Live+SD doesn’t that mean that those ratings are wrong?

  • bjssp

    How can something be lower when DVR viewing is factored in?

  • Noel

    I just love to enter here and watch Jabba in the picture. (Star Wars Freak)

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