Masked Scheduler's Ratings Smackdown

The Masked Mailbox is filling up so let’s answer a few. This is from WS:
"I have followed TV series for decades, and there is a particular habit on dramas that I don't understand. After a show makes it through a first year successfully, rather than give us more information/scenes/background of the actors we liked in the first year, they add one or more new characters in the second season. Are the actors so bad at acting that they can't go any deeper in their roles? Are the writers incapable of adding depth to the characters? Or...?
Obviously, I would prefer to see more of the characters I like."
To be honest I don't believe that is the rule, but adding characters to a series is a way to broaden out the appeal of a show and to give the current characters different people to play off of. Through them you learn more about your favorites.
Often at the end of the first season of a series, the writers will see some flaws or weaknesses in the existing cast that can be addressed with some additions. I honestly don't think it's done randomly, and I am sure there are shows where even you appreciated an addition to the cast.
After I wrote this response I caught up last night on this season's "Lethal Weapn" episodes, and sure enough, they introduced two new characters.
MC wants some clarification on make goods:
"Whenever a show underperforms its ratings guarantee, the network has to compensate the advertisers by airing additional ads for free. These are commonly referred to as make goods. Can you elaborate on the specifics of this process? How do the networks decide which shows to air these make goods? Is it based on which shows have similar ad rates, similar specific audiences, etc.? Will a network replace a slot usually reserved for a promo to air a make good? On a related note, how often do ad rates change? Do the ad rates change on a weekly basis, or are they more spread out? Do the ad rates change less frequently for veteran shows? Looking forward to hearing any specifics!"
WOW! After networks announce their schedules in May, ad rates are set for all the shows (both new and returning) announced for the season schedule. These are based on audience estimates, anticipated demand and other characteristics of a show. Networks negotiate with the agencies on the prices, and the anticipated deliveries (generally adults 18-49 or 25-54, C3 or C7 ratings) are guaranteed.
To anticipate underdelievery of audience, a network will hold back a certain amount of their inventory for make goods, which will make the advertiser whole on the guarantee. The make goods can be in any show. If a network over-delivers (the show rates better than anticipated) they cannot charge the advertiser for the additional audience.
If a network uses up its reserved inventory, it may add commercial minutes to the schedule or possibly take it out of promotion. In a perfect world, you meet your guarantees and have the additional inventory to sell in scatter.
The "scatter" market takes place during the season, where networks sell ad time and charge whatever they and the advertiser agree to. These ads are NOT guaranteed, so the network does not have to make good to an advertiser.
Network ad sales will generally sell shows at ratings above what they anticipate a show will do. They want to bring the money in and then worry about the guarantee. This results in an interesting cat-and-mouse game between research and sales in terms of projections, but that's a story for another day.
Now all this is about the linear part of sales. Digital ads are becoming more relevant to the discussion, and that's actually the domain of the Masked Son.
Hope this helps.
Send those questions to and I can be followed on Twitter @maskedscheduler.

Broadcast primetime live + same-day ratings for Sunday, Nov. 12, 2017

Note: Live sports coverage on FOX and NBC will likely result in greater adjustments than usual for those networks.

The numbers for Sunday:

Time Show Adults 18-49 rating/share
Viewers (millions)
7 p.m. NFL overrun (FOX) 5.0/18 15.18
Football Night in America (NBC) (7-8:30 p.m.) 3.1/11 9.76
60 Minutes (CBS) 1.2/5 11.03
The Toy Box (ABC) 0.5/2 2.34
7:30 p.m. The OT (FOX) 3.0/11 8.43
8 p.m. The Simpsons (FOX) 1.9/7 4.76
America’s Funniest Home Videos (ABC) 1.0/4 5.22
Wisdom of the Crowd (CBS) 0.8/3 6.79
8:30 p.m. Sunday Night Football (NBC) (8:30-11 p.m.) 5.0/17 15.33
Ghosted (FOX) 1.3/4 3.28
9 p.m. Family Guy (FOX) 1.4/5 3.09
NCIS: Los Angeles (CBS) 0.9/3 7.73
Shark Tank (ABC) 0.9/3 4.24
9:30 p.m. The Last Man on Earth (FOX) 0.9/3 2.18
10 p.m. Shark Tank (ABC) 0.8/3 3.63
Madam Secretary (CBS) 0.6/2 6.61


FOX’s Sunday shows were all up week to week, benefitting from the national late-afternoon NFL game running into primetime. They were also up, however, from the last NFL-assisted Sunday.

“The Simpsons” (1.9 rating in adults 18-49) and “Ghosted” (1.3) each had their second-best numbers of the season. “Family Guy” tied its season high at 1.4, and “The Last Man on Earth” was up a tenth of a point at 0.9.

CBS’ “Wisdom of the Crowd” fell 0.3 vs. last week to a 0.8, just above its season low. “NCIS: Los Angeles” (0.9) and “Madam Secretary” (0.6) were even with a week ago. On ABC, “The Toy Box,” “America’s Funniest Home Videos” and the 10 o’clock “Shark Tank” each rose a tenth, and the 9 p.m. “Shark Tank” was steady.

“Sunday Night Football” drew an 11.5 household rating in the metered markets, up nearly two full points from the previous week’s 9.6.

Network averages:

Adults 18-49 rating/share 4.3/15 2.3/8 0.9/3 0.8/3
Total Viewers (millions) 13.24 6.15 8.04 3.86


: Estimated percentage of the universe of TV households (or other specified group) tuned to a program in the average minute. Ratings are expressed as a percent.
Fast Affiliate Ratings: These first national ratings are available at approximately 11 a.m. ET the day after telecast. The figures may include stations that did not air the entire network feed, as well as local news breaks or cutaways for local coverage or other programming. Fast Affiliate ratings are not as useful for live programs and are likely to differ significantly from the final results, because the data reflect normal broadcast feed patterns. 
Share (of Audience): 
The percent of households (or persons) using television who are tuned to a specific program, station or network in a specific area at a specific time. 
Time Shifted Viewing:
 Program ratings for national sources are produced in three streams of data – Live, Live +Same-Day and Live +7 Day. Time-shifted figures account for incremental viewing that takes place with DVRs. Live+SD includes viewing during the same broadcast day as the original telecast, with a cut-off of 3 a.m. local time when meters transmit daily viewing to Nielsen for processing. Live +7 ratings include  viewing that takes place during the 7 days following a telecast.

Source: The Nielsen Company.

Posted by:Rick Porter

Rick Porter has been covering TV since the days when networks sent screeners on VHS, one of which was a teaser for the first season of "American Idol." He's left-handed, makes a very solid grilled cheese and has been editor of TV by the Numbers since October 2015. He lives in Austin.

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