Friday, December 11, 2009

Peetooplus - The Basics of Viewers/Demos


Sorry for not posting in the last few days, but I'm back with more on the "debate" about whether total viewers or the adults 18-49 demo is what matters in the analysis of TV ratings. In the last post I presented these two scatter plots, one plotting '08-'09 viewer averages (for originals) against fall '09 ad rates and one plotting demo averages against ad rates. Again, I'm only using shows that returned in the same timeslot, in an attempt to minimize the influence of speculation by the ad buyers.


As I remarked back then, it's easy to tell which one has a stronger correlation; the demo one. And the eye test is my best way of explaining it, because it's been several years now since my last statistics class. So while I can tell you that the correlation coefficient on the viewer chart is just r = 0.46 and the correlation on the demo chart is r = 0.90, and the strength of that r value has to do with how close you are to 1, I can't really say exactly how much better 0.90 is than 0.46. But it's a lot.

I'll try to make the point in a couple other ways. Still a lot of numbers, but hopefully not advanced statistics.

Demo Price
Grey's Anatomy 5.7 240462
Desperate Housewives 5.3 228851
2.5 Men 5.1 226635
House 5.1 183298
CSI 4.8 198647
DWTS (Monday) 4.7 178687
The Office 4.3 191236
CSI: Miami 4 140065
Survivor 4 152246
Bachelor 4 139500
Family Guy 4 214750
DWTS (Tuesday) 3.9 172570
Private Practice 3.8 175450
NCIS 3.65 133304
Criminal Minds 3.6 116553
The Biggest Loser 3.6 128295
Brothers & Sisters 3.5 140445
CSI: New York 3.4 127941
Simpsons 3.4 201920
Extreme Makeover: Home Edition 3.3 136743
30 Rock 3.3 159674
Amazing Race 3.2 109736
Celebrity Apprentice 3.2 110283
American Dad 2.9 136388
60 Minutes 2.7 93772
Bones 2.7 107942
Ghost Whisperer 2.5 78047
Castle 2.4 92700
Parks & Recreation 2.4 119990
Numb3rs 2.3 85007
AFHV 2.2 75893
Gary Unmarried 2.2 79986
Old Christine 2.1 80106
Dollhouse 1.5 56370

These are all the points on the demo scatter plot above. As you can see, almost all the shows at the top of the demo ranking are near the top of the price-per-spot list as well. (Family Guy and Simpsons being the most glaring exceptions.) For the most part, as the demo goes down, so does the price.

Now here's the viewer one.

DWTS (Monday) 19.6 178687
CSI 18.1 198647
NCIS 17.8 133304
DWTS (Tuesday) 16.2 172570
Desperate Housewives 15.4 228851
Grey's Anatomy 15.2 240462
2.5 Men 14.9 226635
Criminal Minds 14.4 116553
CSI: Miami 14.1 140065
60 Minutes 14.1 93772
House 13.4 183298
CSI: New York 13 127941
Survivor 12.5 152246
Bachelor 11.1 139500
Amazing Race 10.5 109736
Ghost Whisperer 10.3 78047
Private Practice 10 175450
Brothers & Sisters 10 140445
Extreme Makeover: Home Edition 10 136743
Bones 9.4 107942
Numb3rs 9.4 85007
Castle 9.3 92700
The Biggest Loser 8.9 128295
The Office 8.4 191236
Celebrity Apprentice 8.2 110283
AFHV 8.1 75893
Family Guy 7.8 214750
Simpsons 7.1 201920
Gary Unmarried 7.1 79986
Old Christine 7.1 80106
30 Rock 6.9 159674
American Dad 6.2 136388
Parks & Recreation 5.4 119990
Dollhouse 3.7 56370

Much worse correlation here. Out of 34 shows on the list, eight charge less than $100k for a 30-second spot. All eight of those were in the bottom ten of the demo list. Only four of the eight are in the bottom ten of the viewer list, and The Simpsons/Family Guy, two of the most expensive shows, are near the bottom of the list. NCIS, despite being the third most viewed show, is near the middle of the pack as far as price goes. Difficult to say those shows are being sold even remotely based on their total audience.

Now, here's another way of looking at this. I'll include price per demo point and price per million total viewers.

Demo Price/pt
Simpsons 3.4 59388.24
Family Guy 4 53687.5
Parks & Recreation 2.4 49995.83
30 Rock 3.3 48386.06
American Dad 2.9 47030.34
Private Practice 3.8 46171.05
The Office 4.3 44473.49
2.5 Men 5.1 44438.24
DWTS (Tuesday) 3.9 44248.72
Desperate Housewives 5.3 43179.43
Grey's Anatomy 5.7 42186.32
Extreme Makeover: Home Edition 3.3 41437.27
CSI 4.8 41384.79
Brothers & Sisters 3.5 40127.14
Bones 2.7 39978.52
Castle 2.4 38625
Old Christine 2.1 38145.71
Survivor 4 38061.5
DWTS (Monday) 4.7 38018.51
CSI: New York 3.4 37629.71
Dollhouse 1.5 37580
Numb3rs 2.3 36959.57
NCIS 3.65 36521.64
Gary Unmarried 2.2 36357.27
House 5.1 35940.78
The Biggest Loser 3.6 35637.5
CSI: Miami 4 35016.25
Bachelor 4 34875
60 Minutes 2.7 34730.37
AFHV 2.2 34496.82
Celebrity Apprentice 3.2 34463.44
Amazing Race 3.2 34292.5
Criminal Minds 3.6 32375.83
Ghost Whisperer 2.5 31218.8


Viewers Price/mil
Simpsons 7.1 28439.44
Family Guy 7.8 27532.05
30 Rock 6.9 23141.16
The Office 8.4 22766.19
Parks & Recreation 5.4 22220.37
American Dad 6.2 21998.06
Private Practice 10 17545
Grey's Anatomy 15.2 15819.87
Dollhouse 3.7 15235.14
2.5 Men 14.9 15210.4
Desperate Housewives 15.4 14860.45
The Biggest Loser 8.9 14415.17
Brothers & Sisters 10 14044.5
House 13.4 13678.96
Extreme Makeover: Home Edition 10 13674.3
Celebrity Apprentice 8.2 13449.15
Bachelor 11.1 12567.57
Survivor 12.5 12179.68
Bones 9.4 11483.19
Old Christine 7.1 11282.54
Gary Unmarried 7.1 11265.63
CSI 18.1 10974.97
DWTS (Tuesday) 16.2 10652.47
Amazing Race 10.5 10451.05
Castle 9.3 9967.742
CSI: Miami 14.1 9933.688
CSI: New York 13 9841.615
AFHV 8.1 9369.506
DWTS (Monday) 19.6 9116.684
Numb3rs 9.4 9043.298
Criminal Minds 14.4 8093.958
Ghost Whisperer 10.3 7577.379
NCIS 17.8 7488.989
60 Minutes 14.1 6650.496

I know this post is in severe danger of becoming too numbers-laden, but here's the point I'm trying to make. The Simpsons is the most expensive show per demo point and it charges not even twice what Ghost Whisperer, the cheapest show, charges. The average price per demo point is right around $40k , and 32 of 34 shows charge within 25% of the average demo price (between $30k and $50k) with only the animation tentpoles being outside of that range. 21 of 34 shows are in an even closer range of 12.5% (between $35k and $45k).

On the other hand, The Simpsons, also the most expensive show per-viewer, charges well over four times what cheapest-per-viewer 60 Minutes charges per viewer. If we're trying to say viewers sell advertising, the average price on this chart would be about $14k. Using the previous benchmarks, just 17 of 34 shows are within 25% of the viewer price and only 10 of 34 are within 12.5%. The viewer correlation with ad rates is much weaker.

I can't really think of any other ways to drill it home, so in conclusion: the demo matters a lot, and it matters a lot more than viewers. The correlation is not as exact as something you might hope for in an actual scientific study, due to other demographics and perhaps some speculation being factored in, but it's a heckuva lot closer than the viewer correlation, and anything you could say to diss the correlation between demo averages and ad rates would have to go at least double for the viewership chart. If there's one number that we as industry outsiders trolling around on the Internet can look at to find a connection with advertising money, it's adults 18-49.

But, sayeth the CBS lover, maybe it's viewers and demos! Well, if that's true, then demos are still much more important, and that's being generous. And considering some of the most "overpaid" shows relative to their demos are shows with very low viewership (especially The Simpsons and Family Guy, but to a lesser extent stuff like The Office and 30 Rock), it would seem the opposite is more likely to be true: that given two shows of about the same demo, having fewer viewers helps. I'll look at that question in an upcoming post about "skew." And I'll also look at the urban legend that "CBS sells total viewers." Not sure, with only three data points, if I'll have enough to tackle the "Total viewers sell on Friday" urban legend, but we'll see.

1 comment:

Hannah said...

Purely speculation, but...

Perhaps the Simpsons/Family Guy anomaly comes from a disproportionate number of younger viewers within the 18-49 demo. The 09/10 season of Family Guy has a 4.4 rating in the 18-49 demo but a 5.6 in 18-34. NCIS, on the other hand, has an 18-34 rating that's LOWER than its 18-49 rating. Clearly a younger crowd is watching Family Guy (but we already knew that).

It's your late teens to mid-thirties when you're buying "big ticket items" (erm, compared to Sargento cheese and Subway sandwiches, at least). That age group is applying for credit cards, buying computers when they go to college, buying their first cars (not to mention insurance...annoying ads), replacing cell phones every year or so, etc. Not only that, but surely they recognize that those in college (and fresh-out-of) have one hand in their own piggybank and the other in their parents'.

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