Masked Scheduler's Ratings Smackdown

You pick up a show, and its rating goes down. The Zen of TV.
Yesterday I discussed the measures used to evaluate the pilots that development executives give their blood, sweat and tears to, only to see them reduced to a data set. Yeah, I'm being dramatic.
Generally, before the schedule is set, the Research group gathers the interested parties together to share the testing. I never would have my guys hand out a document, and we would present the results of the pilots (comedies and dramas separate) in alphabetical order rather than in rank order. This way all pilots got their case heard.
The two most important measures are the percentage of respondents that rate the pilot as excellent and the percent of respondents that say they would definitely watch another episode. Almost as important are the scores for the characters, especially the leads.
Regarding the demographic skew of a pilot, in a perfect world you want it to pop with all four quadrants. That means it has broad appeal. "New Girl" was a pilot that showed no demographic skew and was embraced by women and men, younger (18-34) and older (35-49).
Genres have specific demographic skews. Procedurals generally skew older and female, while science fiction goes older and sometimes a bit more male than your typical drama. At FOX, we had a lot of comedies whose sweet spot was young men. They never worked.
"The Mindy Project" was a case where the data predicted that the show was never going to be a hit in that the only group the show appealed to (and only average appeal) was young women. Within the building, it was perceived as a "New Girl" companion when data showed it was repelling three quarters of "New Girl" viewers.
We would generally group pilot tests into some version of "Strong," "Moderate" and "Weak." Since most pilots test around the mean, we would distinguish among the Moderates by using terms like "Strong Moderate." These labels were of course subjective. In order to distinguish among the moderate tests, we would drill down to the other diagnostic questions to help us make a decision. It would be like looking at a racing form.
At NBC, we worked with GE R&D to develop a testing report which colored the responses. Green was above average and red below. It would give us a quick indication of the overall evaluation of the pilot.
I'll finish this up tomorrow, but let me leave you with this: It's not unusual to get a false positive test on a pilot, but you never get a false negative. If a pilot is rejected in testing, I would put a big bet down that it will be rejected in series. It does not mean that networks don't put on weak-testing pilots, it's just they live to regret it.
Last night's sked:
- "NXT" (WWE Network)
- "The Goldbergs" (ABC, L+SD)
- "Empire" (FOXm L+SD) This show is completely off the rails.
- "The Leftovers" (HBO, L+3) After watching "Empire," this episode made complete sense.
@maskedscheduler is the Twitter and the email is

Broadcast primetime live + same-day ratings for Wednesday, May 10, 2017

The numbers for Wednesday:

Time Show Adults 18-49 Rating/Share Viewers (millions)
8 p.m. Survivor (CBS) 1.7/7 8.16
The Goldbergs (ABC) 1.3/6 5.21
Blindspot (NBC) 0.8/3 3.87
Shots Fired (FOX) 0.8/3 3.09
Arrow (The CW) 0.6/2 1.64
8:30 p.m. Speechless (ABC) 1.0/4 4.30
9 p.m. Empire (FOX) 2.1/8 6.27
Criminal Minds (CBS) – F 1.5/6 7.98
Modern Family (ABC) 1.5/6 5.63
Law & Order: SVU (NBC) 1.1/4 4.84
The 100 (The CW) 0.3/1 0.87
9:30 p.m. Black-ish (ABC) – F 1.3/5 4.75
10 p.m. Chicago PD (NBC) 1.2/5 6.10
Designated Survivor (ABC) 1.0/4 4.93
Criminal Minds: Beyond Borders (CBS) 0.8/3 4.87


“Empire” bounced back some Wednesday after hitting a series low in adults 18-49 last week. The FOX show earned a 2.1 rating in the 18-49 demographic, up 0.2 vs. last week, to lead the night.

The season finale of “Black-ish” (1.3), “Law & Order: SVU” (1.1), “Designated Survivor” (1.0) and “Arrow” (0.6) were all up as well, each rising a tenth of a point. “Criminal Minds” ended its season with a 1.5, tying last week’s 16-episode high.

The news was not as good for the rest of ABC’s comedies, as “The Goldbergs” (1.3), “Speechless” (1.0) and “Modern Family” (1.5) all hit series lows. “Survivor” (1.7), “Criminal Minds: Beyond Borders” (0.8) and “Blindspot” (0.8) each dipped a tenth, and “The 100” was off a tenth from last week’s preliminary 0.4 and tied with its final 0.3.

FOX’s “Shots Fired” and NBC’s “Chicago PD” were both even with their ratings a week ago.

Network averages:

Adults 18-49 rating/share 1.5/6 1.4/5 1.2/5 1.1/4 0.4/2
Total Viewers (millions) 4.68 7.00 4.96 4.93 1.26


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

11:35 p.m.

“The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon”: 0.6/4, 2.1/6

“Jimmy Kimmel Live”: 0.5/3, 1.7/5

“The Late Show with Stephen Colbert”: 0.4/2, 2.4/6

12:35 a.m.

“Late Night with Seth Meyers”: 0.4/3, 1.3/5

“Nightline”: 0.3/2, 1.1/4

“The Late Late Show with James Corden”: 0.2/1, 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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