Sunday, December 13, 2009

Peetooplus - CBS Cares... About Total Viewers?

CBS talks about total viewers a lot when they write their press releases. Combined perhaps with people getting hypnotized by all those "CBS Cares" commercials, this has led to two schools of thought on the Internet:

1) CBS cares about total viewers significantly more than other broadcast networks. They use the number as a major part of their network strategy out of respect for the people over 50 years old who watch their network. Press releases are good indicators of network strategy.
2) CBS is considerably stronger relative to other networks in total viewers than they are in most other measurements. Press releases have a tendency to play up the strengths of the network, no matter their importance in a network strategy.

So which one is true?

If you'll recall my scatter plots from an earlier post, I showed visually that ad rates are considerably better connected to the adults 18-49 demo than they are to total viewers. If CBS cares about the old folk, it should be different this time. Right?

Fewer data points, but the viewer one arguably looks a little better than the viewer one for all the networks, and it plays out that way in the correlation coefficient, where r = a stronger 0.71. But the demo correlation is better, much better than even the overall demo one was. r = 0.97. That's science experiment good.

CBS' average going rate for the demo is a little lower than broadcast in general, about $36,700 per demo point, but the majority of their shows are very close to that, with only demo-heavy 2.5 Men falling more than 15% away in either direction. Here's a complete list.

Demo Price Price/pt
2.5 Men 5.1 226635 44438.24
CSI 4.8 198647 41384.79
CSI: Miami 4 140065 35016.25
Survivor 4 152246 38061.5
NCIS 3.65 133304 36521.64
Criminal Minds 3.6 116553 32375.83
CSI: New York 3.4 127941 37629.71
Amazing Race 3.2 109736 34292.5
60 Minutes 2.7 93772 34730.37
Ghost Whisperer 2.5 78047 31218.8
Numb3rs 2.3 85007 36959.57
Gary Unmarried 2.2 79986 36357.27
Old Christine 2.1 80106 38145.71

Viewers Price Price/mil
CSI 18.1 198647 10974.97
NCIS 17.8 133304 7488.989
2.5 Men 14.9 226635 15210.4
Criminal Minds 14.4 116553 8093.958
CSI: Miami 14.1 140065 9933.688
60 Minutes 14.1 93772 6650.496
CSI: New York 13 127941 9841.615
Survivor 12.5 152246 12179.68
Amazing Race 10.5 109736 10451.05
Ghost Whisperer 10.3 78047 7577.379
Numb3rs 9.4 85007 9043.298
Old Christine 7.1 80106 11282.54
Gary Unmarried 7.1 79986 11265.63

The differences aren't as stark here, but still... they charge just 42% more per demo point on their priciest show (2.5 Men) than on their least pricey (GW). On the viewer chart, they charge more than 100% more per viewer to be on 2.5 Men than to be on 60 Minutes. Correlation-wise, advantage: the demo.

So maybe CBS "cares" about total viewers in the sense that they'd like to be able to get money for them, but they're still selling their ads based on the exact same number as everyone else. Some people say that CBS is more of an A25-54 network, and maybe that correlation's even better, but the A18-49 correlation is quite good, and much better than it is across all the networks combined. If they genuinely "care" about total viewers and use that number to make decisions about their network, they are throwing away money, and I offer to run the network. I'll even do it cheaper than the guys you have now, CBS.

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