Masked Scheduler's Ratings Smackdown

In this age of "scheduling doesn't matter," long live the four-comedy block.
Looks like that "Designated Survivor" campaign about possibly assassinating the President helped the show.
So to follow up on yesterday's post on "Fringe," here's the tale of "Remote Free TV."
In May of 2008 we're setting the fall schedule. There was a feeling among some of the executives that the ad market was going to be soft (they were wrong). One morning two of our senior execs walk into the scheduling room and announce that, given the soft market, they want to cut the number of commercials in a show and, in their minds, increase the demand. We chose "Fringe" and "Dollhouse," which would be coming on in midseason.
Always the skeptic, I said that if we have half the commercial load, wouldn't we need to double the unit cost to make us whole? Also we would need more content and, since we didn't own "Fringe" (Warner Brothers did), won't they ask for a higher license fee if we ask for more content? None of this made sense, but we did it anyway.
At the upfront presentation we dubbed this experiment "Remote Free TV" and claimed this would be an enhanced viewing experience for the viewer.
As the season approached I asked if we should do some research on all this so we could market it to the viewer. Here's what we found:
1) The majority of people don't mind commercial breaks and they gave us some very obvious reasons.
2) "Remote Free TV" sounded like we were taking away their control of the set, and they hated the term.
3) People will not watch a show just because it has fewer commercials. They watch a show because it is "good."
When "Fringe" premiered we tracked the minute-by-minute ratings and saw no difference in fast forwarding through the commercial breaks when compared to a show with a typical commercial load.
Every time I see a show promoted as having "limited commercial interruptions," I chuckle a bit.
Last night's schedule:
- "NXT" (WWE Network)
- "Outsiders" (WGN America, L+9)
- "Underground" (WGN America, L+SD) They do some gems over there and I highly recommend this one.
- "Fresh Off the Boat" (ABC, L+1)
Follow on Twitter @maskedscheduler
Getting some good questions at

Broadcast primetime live + same-day ratings for Wednesday, March 8, 2017

The numbers for Wednesday include lows for a couple of veteran series and a small improvement for a show returning from hiatus:

Time Show Adults 18-49 Rating/Share Viewers (millions)
8 p.m. Survivor (CBS) (8-10 p.m.) – P 1.7/6 7.61
The Goldbergs (ABC) 1.7/6 5.68
Lethal Weapon (FOX) 1.2/5 5.86
Law & Order: SVU (NBC) – R 0.8/3 4.28
Arrow (The CW) – R 0.3/1 0.91
8:30 p.m. Speechless (ABC) 1.5/5 4.99
9 p.m. Modern Family (ABC) 1.9/7 6.51
Star (FOX) 1.1/4 3.87
Law & Order: SVU (NBC) – R 0.9/3 4.58
The 100 (The CW) – R 0.2/1 0.65
9:30 p.m. Black-ish (ABC) 1.4/5 5.11
10 p.m. Designated Survivor (ABC) 1.3/5 5.88
Criminal Minds: Beyond Borders (CBS) – P 0.9/3 5.35
Chicago PD (NBC) – R 0.7/3 4.09


The 34th edition of “Survivor” on CBS had the show’s smallest premiere ratings ever, opening to a 1.7 rating among adults 18-49. The fall run of the show opened to a 2.3, and last spring’s season had a 1.9 for its premiere. “Criminal Minds: Beyond Borders” premiered to a 0.9, down from both its series premiere (1.6) and its finale (1.0) last year.

ABC’s “Modern Family” (1.9) also had a series low Wednesday, falling below 2.0 for the first time in its eight seasons. “Designated Survivor” returned from its three-month hiatus to a 1.3, up a tenth of a point from its last episode. “The Goldbergs” was steady at 1.7, while “Speechless” (1.5) and “Black-ish” (1.4) each fell a tenth from their last episodes.

“Lethal Weapon” (1.2) was off 0.2 from its last episode on FOX, but “Star” held steady at 1.1. NBC and The CW aired reruns Wednesday night.

Network averages:

Adults 18-49 rating/share 1.5/5 1.4/5 1.2/4 0.8/3 0.2/1
Total Viewers (millions) 5.67 6.89 4.86 4.32 0.78


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

11:35 p.m.

“The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon” – R: 0.6/3, 1.8/5

“The Late Show with Stephen Colbert”: 0.5/3, 2.5/7

“Jimmy Kimmel Live”: 0.5/3, 1.8/5

12:35 a.m.

“The Late Late Show with James Corden”: 0.3/2, 1.2/4

“Nightline”: 0.3/2, 1.2/4

“Late Night with Seth Meyers” – R: 0.3/2, 1.0/4


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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