Masked Scheduler's Ratings Smackdown

More Masked Mail for your Wednesday. The very knowledgeable RP starts us off with this question:
"Since TV usage goes down when daylight saving kicks in, how much weight is given to that fact when you're considering midseason shows? If a series airs most or all of its episodes after DST starts, is the bar slightly lower for renewal?"
What has changed over the years is the premiere pattern for midseason shows. Through most of my time scheduling, we would launch in September and then evaluate the schedule in mid-November. By December we'd come up with a midseason schedule, which would generally come on sometime in January, when usage levels were at their peak.
This pattern has changed a bit in that more shows seem to be coming on later in the season, many after we change the clocks. For cable networks this doesn’t matter as much, since so many of the "prestige" shows are in the 10 p.m. (sometimes 9 p.m.) time period. The 8 o'clock hour is much more impacted by the time switch.
If you do this long enough, most scheduling decisions and thoughts of renewal become a sixth sense and DST is taken into account. Here's one example. If you are looking at two comedies in the 8-9 p.m. time period, the 8:30 comedy generally drops from the lead-in show. When DST hits, you like to see the gap narrow or even see the 8:30 comedy exceed the lead-in. If the falloff remains unchanged after DST, then that’s telling you something about the ability of the satellite show to move into a leadoff position.
The bigger problem with the late-season premieres is that you often don't get enough time to accurately evaluate whether some shows are worthy of a second season renewal. You may not have enough data points.
When I was at NBC, I asked our research department to determine if there was an advantage to premiering in midseason vs. the fall. Several of our producers would argue for the midseason slots, thinking it increased their chances of success. They were wrong.
If you looked at the chances of a show being renewed and renewed for a third cycle, you had a much better chance of success if your show premiered in the more conventional pattern of a fall launch.
My thinking was that we just did not have sufficient knowledge of several midseason shows since they would only deliver 13 (or fewer) episodes, whereas we would generally get 22 episodes of a fall premiere show; by then, the show sort of knows what it is.
Sadly, as the broadcast networks display their "cable envy" by doing shorter runs of series and delaying premieres until later in the season, they are setting themselves up for more failure. That may seem old school, but there is some truth here.
Want to disagree? It’s and @maskedscheduler on Twitter.

Broadcast primetime live + same-day ratings for Tuesday, March 20, 2018

The numbers for Tuesday:

Time Show Adults 18-49 rating/share
Viewers (millions)
8 p.m. The Voice (NBC) 2.1/9 10.75
The Middle (ABC) 1.3/5 5.79
NCIS (CBS) – R 0.8/3 7.98
Lethal Weapon (FOX) – R 0.5/2 2.27
The Flash (The CW) – R 0.3/1 1.00
8:30 p.m Fresh Off the Boat (ABC) 1.0/4 3.64
9 p.m. Rise (NBC) 1.1/4 5.53
Black-ish (ABC) 1.1/4 3.89
NCIS (CBS) – R 0.8/3 7.60
LA to Vegas (FOX) 0.6/2 2.18
Black Lightning (The CW) 0.5/2 1.54
9:30 p.m. Modern Family (ABC) – R 0.8/3 3.06
The Mick (FOX) 0.7/3 2.05
10 p.m. Chicago Med (NBC) 1.2/5 6.86
Bull (CBS) – R 0.6/2 5.41
For the People (ABC) 0.6/2 2.73


Episode 2 of “Rise” held up fairly well for NBC Tuesday. The show scored a 1.1 rating in adults 18-49, down 0.1 from last week’s premiere at 10 p.m. It had a somewhat smaller (but still strong) lead-in with “The Voice” (2.1, -0.1) vs. the 2.8 for the “This Is Us” season finale a week ago.

“Chicago Med” came in at 1.2 for NBC, off two tenths of a point from its last episode two weeks ago.

ABC’s comedies all improved week to week: “The Middle” (1.3) and “Black-ish” (1.1) were up two tenths each, and “Fresh Off the Boat” rose by a tenth to 1.0. That didn’t carry over to “For the People,” which was down two tenths from its premiere to 0.6.

“Black Lightning” held steady at 0.5 for The CW coming out of a “Flash” repeat. “The Mick” (0.7) ticked up a tenth on FOX, while “LA to Vegas” went the other way, falling a tenth to 0.6.

Network averages:

Adults 18-49 rating/share 1.5/6 0.9/3 0.7/3 0.6/2 0.4/2
Total Viewers (millions) 7.71 3.64 7.00 2.19 1.27


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

11:35 p.m.

“The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon”: 0.6/4, 2.0/5

“The Late Show with Stephen Colbert”: 0.5/3, 2.7/7

“Jimmy Kimmel Live”: 0.5/3, 1.9/5

12:35 a.m.

“Late Night with Seth Meyers”: 0.4/3, 1.3/4

“Nightline”: 0.3/2, 1.2/4

“The Late Late Show with James Corden”: 0.2/2, 1.2/4

: 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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