FOX announced Friday that it will no longer use or “acknowledge” same-day ratings for its programming, either internally or to the press. The network says it wants to “change the conversation” around ratings and will only issue ratings reports involving Live +3, Live +7 and multi-platform numbers, except for live events.
“The Live + Same Day rating does not reflect the way people are watching our series,” FOX chairmen and CEOs Dana Walden and Gary Newman write in a memo. “It leaves out the vast majority of fans who choose to watch on DVRs, and virtually ignores those who stream our shows or watch on demand. And those viewers matter: Within a 7-day period, more than one-third of the broadcast 18-49 audience watches after the same-day window.”
Newman and Walden also note that FOX sells about half its ad inventory based on C7 ratings — viewing of commercials within seven days of air, and that they also get revenue from digital viewing on digital platforms Hulu and FOX Now.
None of that is untrue — most ad deals, and therefore decisions made about which shows get renewed and which ones are canceled, aren’t based on same-day ratings anymore. But TV by the Numbers will continue to report on same-day ratings for the foreseeable future. Here’s why:
– Commercial ratings aren’t publicly circulated, and same-day numbers are a fairly good predictor of them regardless. On a few occasions news outlets have obtained C3 ratings, and while they do tend to rise from a show’s same-day numbers, they do so largely in proportion to the same-day ratings. To use the example of two FOX shows, “Rosewood” doesn’t suddenly start looking like “Empire” after three or seven days of DVR and on-demand viewing.
– Delayed viewing numbers have been part of the reporting landscape for several years now. This site and many others make note of Live +7 ratings every week and report on Live +3 ratings whenever possible. The fact is, networks usually Live +3 reports when they have something to tout. FOX says it will start issuing L+3 reports as regularly as same-day ratings, so you can rest assured they would be reported here.
– Same-day numbers are less susceptible to spin. Just about every show on broadcast TV grows its ratings with delayed viewing, and networks (naturally) want to report the best numbers they can. No amount of delayed viewing could have saved “Wicked City” or made “Minority Report” or “The Player” viable long-term prospects for their respective networks. That was apparent right away, and it will continue to be.
Note: This post has been updated to reflect that FOX will in fact be issuing regular Live +3 ratings reports.