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.


  • 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.

  • http://tvbythenumbers.com Bill Gorman

    “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.”

    I think you’ve got a good way of thinking about the numbers. I find them interesting too.

    We’ll have them weekly again during the season. Probably on Mondays, but they came Sunday this week.

    The snark comes no extra charge.

  • http://tvbythenumbers.com Bill Gorman

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

    All these ratings are “right” in the sense that they measure what they measure.

    Live+Same Day ratings for our predictions works very well, and they’re quickly and easily available to us.

    I did some experiments in past year’s whether using Live+7 ratings would be better (even though we’d have to wait 2-3 more weeks for them), and they weren’t any more predictive using our process.

  • http://tvbythenumbers.com Bill Gorman

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

    The same kinds of ratings can’t be lower.

    But, as noted, commercial ratings and program ratings measure two different things.

    Don’t think of C+3 commercial ratings as being something *added* to Live+Same Day program ratings, they’re not, they are two different measurements.

    C+3 commercial ratings are additive to Live commercial ratings (and Live+Same Day, +1 and +2 commercial ratings too).

  • ChuckMeForever

    Just Curious if you could remove NBC’s Sunday Night Football from the equation and give us the revised number… I want to see how BIG an impact that makes. Then could you add that NBC FB number back into ABC and see how much that would affect ABC’s number if they still did Monday Night FB…

  • mel

    Ratings need to get in line with real viewing habits now. I watch all ABC dramas, but never the same day or live. Due to my schedule, it may be a week. However, I never miss my shows. Nashville, Revenge, Scandal and Greys are all great shows. Viewing habits have changed but the beancounters in suits haven’t.

  • DKD


    The “beancounters” ARE counting the viewers they want to count. The only viewers that they can get paid for are the ones who watch the ads. And that’s who they are trying to count. If you don’t watch the ads, you don’t matter to them.

    On the original topic, I think TVBTN is doing some Jedi Mind Tricks in saying Live + SD ratings are just as good as knowing C3 ratings.

    The TVBTN methodology counts only scripted series. Yet, the averages they posted to prove Live + SD is the same as C3 include sports and reality shows.

    Secondly, the methodology is about the differences BETWEEN shows, not networks averages.

    I would maintain that if two shows have the same Live + SD rating, but one has a much bigger Live + 7 lift that gives it a higher C3 rating, those shows are not equal in the minds of the network programmers.

  • DKD

    During the week of the 16th when Fox premiered its shows, Sleepy Hollow’s C3 rating was 14% higher than its Live + SD rating (4.0 vs. 3.5). New Girl, Bones, and Mindy’s C3’s were between -3% for Bones and +2% for Mindy. So, they were close.

    I don’t know how you can say that 14% lift, which aligns with a big Live + 7 lift, doesn’t matter to a show’s prospects.

    Sure, the entire Live + 7 doesn’t translate into c3, but an unusually high Live + 7 lift is an extremely strong indicator that the C3 lift is better than average.

  • mel

    Love the ABC shows and hate the ratings the way they are today. ABC has shows that you can DVR and watch anytime (and sometimes want to bulk watch) versus reality types shows that are over exposed and talked about the next day on the news. I would rather a good drama any day than the voice, xfactor, idol, etc. Times have changed and DVRs should be considered more -with all of the options out there, showing a 81% increase like Nashville did last week in +7 day ratings shows that people watch different types of shows differently too.

  • starship


    Fact is people who don’t watch live would rarely sit through commercials when there’s a rewind button.Thus, the C+1, C+3, and C+7 will usually be almost exactly the same, now of course as Bill said, that ‘almost’ equals more money for the network, but doesn’t change a show’s chances in the long run. Now, if people are watching on Hulu or the network’s site they’re forced to watch those commercials like it or not, but there’s no way to measure how many of those online viewers are 18-49, so online viewers are a different sales model.

  • pandorajinel


    Also the difference doesn’t much matter because it still places Sleepy Hollow at the top of the show heap. The exact numbers don’t matter in a vacuum, its the numbers relative to other shows on the network. That’s why Supernatural is still alive on the CW after hitting lows of 0.6 a season or two ago, but Once Upon a Time in Wonderland is in trouble on ABC getting 1.0s.

  • Joey

    I don’t see why advertisers don’t care about 7 day viewing ratings. I get if it’s an ad for a movie or event that is time sensitive, but most products advertised don’t really matter when it is being seen, it is still being seen.

  • kpk001

    I see no mention of torrents here and at first glance it would seem that they are of no concern to broadcasters(B) or advertisers(A). I rely on torrents when I run up against a full DVR +/or a trio of shows in the same period. Like Mel points out I’ll watch the reality stuff live (even then mostly offset by an hour so I can zap thru commercials) and many times bing watch the dramas (2hrs=3hrs of show)… A smart move for B/A would be to at least monitor (if not incorporate into the rate structure) the torrents. Especially for new shows, they give greater sense of the interest, in raw numbers as well as when the episodes are downloaded. I, like I would presume many, don’t waste time on luke warm interest dramas until I see if they are “buzzing” +/or have a chance of being picked up (ie Betrayal this season). Then I’ll download a set of well seeded back episodes. A smart B/A could ride the coattails of a rising show, B acting like they actually listen to viewers and A taking credit for saving a cult show from extinction.

  • Mk

    Thanks for this. Is still find it interesting that CBS has been reported as sawing that overnight ratings are pretty irrelevant. But maybe that is just PR?

    “CBS finally got around to emailing its 30-day viewing message: Overnight Nielsen ratings are pretty irrelevant, and CBS has gotten off to a much better start this season than originally reported.
    Actually, what CBS reported: Factoring in 30-day multi-platform playback on DVR, VOD and online, the overall audience for the premiere episode of new Monday drama Hostages – initially reported at a disappointing 7.41 million viewers, based on Nielsen fast nationals issued the next morning — now stands 15.54 million strong. That’s a jump of 110%.
    Similarly, the opening audience for Chuck Lorre’s new CBS comedy Mom jumped 72%, from 7.99 million viewers, to 13.77 million. And the crowd for the opening night of David E. Kelley’s new Robin Williams comedy The Crazy Ones now stands at nearly 24 million viewers, after growing 52% over the 30 days. Source: Deadline

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