Masked Scheduler's Ratings Smackdown

EP is curious: "Do the networks ever think of PBS as competition, since PBS audience is not reported. And do [English-language] networks ever consider Univision as competition?"
First of all, I do believe that PBS ratings are reported by Nielsen even though there are no commercials. The same is true for HBO and Showtime. Regarding Univision, I do recall that at FOX, it was included in our ratings reports, so we did track its performance.
Everything is competition for the viewer's time, so we never dismiss any platform or delivery system. We are at a point where trying to counter-program everything that is on against you is folly, and that includes the other broadcast networks. When a top-rated show gets maybe 10% of those watching television, that means 90% of the demo viewing is viewing something else.
If networks are going to be aware of anything, it is still the other networks, simply because they are evaluated as a group. And as I have said often on here, it's fun to be competitive with the other networks. For schedulers, it keeps them on their game.
MB has a proposal:
"With cable shows demonstrating that shorter series runs work, why haven't broadcast networks embraced a shorter schedule for ALL of their shows? Typically, the network schedules runs from September to May, which is 9 months or 36 weeks. Even removing weeks for holidays and starting later in September and ending early in May, the network schedule is about 30 weeks, which leaves about 8 weeks of dead air in a 22-epsiode run. What if they ran a 13-week show from September to December, then a 16-week show from January to May? All shows would run uninterrupted, and the networks wouldn't need to worry about replacement or mid-season shows."
I honestly don't think that "cable" has demonstrated that shorter series work. They just have figured out a way to stretch a 13- or 16-episode order out over the year. I continue to believe that the networks are making a mistake when they order fewer than 22 episodes of their established series, especially comedies and non-serialized procedurals.
Having more shorter series increases pressure on marketing, and unless you are willing to keep everything on regardless of performance (trust me, execs say they will, but they won't) you will have to order more backup. Ordering more episodes of what's working is investing in success. Adding more short series increases failure. That's the way I look at it.
Cable channels play this game of splitting a series into two short runs only with their established shows and not with new series.
Finally, you are making a big assumption about episode deliveries, i.e. that episodes will be ready when you need them. It often doesn't work that way. For a network to adopt this strategy, it would need to do it gradually over several seasons.
Direct questions to, and the Twitter is @maskedscheduler.

Broadcast primetime live + same-day ratings for Thursday, March 22, 2018

Note: CBS’ live NCAA Tournament coverage may result in greater adjustments than usual for the network in the final ratings.

The numbers for Thursday:

Time Show Adults 18-49 rating/share
Viewers (millions)
8 p.m. NCAA Tournament (CBS) (8-9:30 p.m.) 2.3/9 7.93
Grey’s Anatomy (ABC) 1.9/8 7.49
Superstore (NBC) 1.1/4 3.88
Gotham (FOX) 0.7/3 2.44
Supernatural (The CW) – R 0.3/1 0.97
8:30 p.m. AP Bio (NBC) 0.7/3 2.87
9 p.m. Chicago Fire (NBC) 1.2/5 6.51
Station 19 (ABC) (9-11 p.m) – P 1.1/5 5.42
Showtime at the Apollo (FOX) 0.6/2 2.37
Arrow (The CW) – R 0.2/1 0.61
9:30 p.m. NCAA Tournament (CBS) (9:30-11 p.m.) 2.5/10 8.17
10 p.m. Chicago Fire (NBC) 1.2/5 7.05


“Grey’s Anatomy” spinoff “Station 19” didn’t set the ratings ablaze Thursday night, but it didn’t crash and burn either. (Stopping the fire puns now — promise.)

“Station 19” averaged a 1.1 rating among adults 18-49 for its two-hour premiere, slightly behind a double shot of NBC’s “Chicago Fire” (1.2 for both hours) in the demographic. “Fire” had more total viewers, averaging 6.88 million over the two hours to “Station 19’s” 5.42 million.

“Grey’s Anatomy” (1.9) rose a tenth of a point vs. last week for ABC. NBC’s “Superstore” was also up a tenth at 1.1, but “AP Bio” (0.7) came down 0.1 from last week’s fast nationals and 0.2 from the finals.

CBS led the night with a pair of games from the NCAA men’s tournament Sweet 16. The network’s fast national averages of 8.05 million viewers and 2.4 in adults 18-49 are up from 6.62 million and 2.0 last year. If that holds up in the finals, it will be the second straight year of gains for the Sweet 16 round.

“Gotham” ticked up a tenth to 0.7 on FOX, and “Showtime at the Apollo” held steady at 0.6.

Network averages:

Adults 18-49 rating/share 2.4/10 1.4/6 1.1/4 0.7/3 0.3/1
Total Viewers (millions) 8.05 6.11 5.64 2.40 0.79


Late-night metered market ratings (adults 18-49, households):

11:35 p.m.

“Jimmy Kimmel Live”: 0.6/3, 2.3/6

“The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon”: 0.6/3, 2.2/6

“The Late Show with Stephen Colbert”: n/a, delayed by NCAA overrun

12:35 a.m.

“Nightline”: 0.4/3, 1.4/5

“Late Night with Seth Meyers”: 0.3/3, 1.3/4

Note: An earlier version of this post incorrectly stated the adults 18-49 ratings for “Station 19” on ABC. It averaged 1.1 rather than 1.2.


Rating: 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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