Masked Scheduler's Ratings Smackdown

"Game of Thrones" returned this past Sunday night to its largest rating of the series. For its initial run "GOT" averaged over 10 million viewers. This prompted a question from BS:
"I know this is probably meaningless, but I never understood this aspect of the ratings and it drives me crazy! Networks have one rating for their shows even though they air multiple times.  Cable has separate ratings for each airing. For example – CBS has a megahit with 'Big Bang Theory' -- which has a 2.5 rating and 12-15 million viewers per week (average) -- but that combines at least two showings (east coast and west coast; possibly three if central/mountain starts differently too).
"Sunday – 'Game of Thrones' lists TWO ratings – 4.7 and 1.1 with 10 and 3 million viewers respectively. This is for only the 'original' airings -- not the secondary HBO channels or repeat showing -- so the comparison of East Coast West Coast is actually valid.
"If you are comparing the two shows, isn't it more fair to state that "GOT" has a 5.8 rating with 13 million viewers while "BBT" has the 2.5/15m? Why is cable designated for separate showings (virtually all cable shows air twice) when networks combine the multiple showings into one rating? If "GOT" aired on CBS -- with the exact same numbers they have -- wouldn't its ratings be 5.8/13m? Am I combining the numbers wrong?"
A broadcast network has a three-hour schedule (four on Sunday) which airs 8-11 p.m. on the coasts and 7-10 in the Mountain and Central time zones. "BBT" (using your example) airs once in each time zone, and the viewing is aggregated to produce an average minute rating for the show.
Cable networks, both premium and basic, often have one feed which is sent out to the entire country. For instance, on DirecTV (which is my provider) "Monday Night Raw" airs at 5 p.m. here on the West Coast, since USA Network provides DirecTV with one feed. (On some cable systems, there are separate feeds, and ratings are aggregated the same way as broadcast ratings are.)
HBO provides DirecTV with both an East and West feed. They also, as do other cable networks, repeat a telecast immediately after the initial run. They can do this because the entire 24 hours is HBO, whereas CBS carries its programming on affiliated stations, and they only control three hours of prime. The two ratings for "GOT" are for the two runs on the feed. The one rating for "BBT" is for the one telecast which airs in each time zone on the CBS affiliate in primetime.
HBO would not add the ratings for the two airings, but would cume them (separate out those who watch both showings) and also incorporate streaming on HBO NOW and GO.
I hope that helps, and if there are any numbers people out there who want to add something, email me at
I'm on Twitter at @maskedscheduler.

Broadcast primetime live + same-day ratings for Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Note: The CW was pre-empted in New York for baseball, which may result in greater adjustments than usual in the final ratings.

The numbers for Tuesday:

Time Show Adults 18-49 Rating/Share Viewers (millions)
8 p.m. America’s Got Talent (NBC) (8-10 p.m.) 2.4/11 12.40
NCIS (CBS) – R 0.6/3 6.41
The Middle (ABC) – R 0.6/3 2.88
The Simpsons (FOX) – R 0.4/2 1.29
The Flash (The CW) – R 0.3/1 1.15
8:30 p.m. Fresh Off the Boat (ABC) – R 0.5/2 1.97
The Mick (FOX) – R 0.3/1 0.96
9 p.m. Bull (CBS) – R 0.5/2 5.28
Black-ish (ABC) -R 0.4/2 1.77
Family Guy (FOX) – R 0.4/2 0.98
Hooten & the Lady (The CW) – R 0.3/1 1.07
9:30 p.m. Black-ish (ABC) -R 0.4/2 1.70
The Mick (FOX) – R 0.3/1 0.89
10 p.m. World of Dance (NBC) 1.6/7 7.12
NCIS: New Orleans (CBS) – R 0.5/2 5.32
American Housewife (ABC) – R 0.5/2 1.81
10:30 p.m. The Middle (ABC) – R 0.5/2 1.77


Ratings for “World of Dance” fell slightly for NBC on Tuesday, but both it and the network still scored sizable ratings wins in primetime.

“World of Dance” delivered a 1.6 rating among adults 18-49, off a tenth of a point from last week. It’s the show’s lowest rating to date, but it’s still running well ahead of NBC’s performance in the post-“America’s Got Talent” slot last year.

“AGT,” meanwhile, was even with last week’s preliminary 2.4 (it adjusted up to 2.5 in the finals). Everything else on the broadcast networks Tuesday was a repeat.

Network averages:

Adults 18-49 rating/share 2.2/9 0.5/2 0.5/2 0.4/2 0.3/1
Total Viewers (millions) 10.64 5.67 1.98 1.03 1.11


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

11:35 p.m.

“The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon”: 0.6, 2.1

“The Late Show with Stephen Colbert”: 0.5, 2.5

*We currently don’t have numbers for “Jimmy Kimmel Live” or the 12:35 a.m. shows but will update if we get them.

: 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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