Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Breaking Down "Live + Same Day": DVRing at 10:00

The 10:00 hour has been a rough zone for broadcast entertainment programming lately. In week 2 of the season, the highest-rated entertainment program in adults 18-49 was Hawaii Five-0 at a 3.6. Many people say that Hawaii Five-0's ratings to date have been disappointing, but that 3.6 was still four-tenths above anything else entertainment at 10:00. (And its lead over the 10:00 field figures to grow in week 3 unless you count Undercover Boss, which was not regularly scheduled at 10:00 but mostly aired there on Sunday night due to NFL overrun.) Here's the thing: that 3.6, easily the king of 10:00, finished behind sixteen other entertainment programs that week. We've come a long way from the days when ER aired at 10:00 and trounced everything else on TV.

So why is 10:00 in such bad shape? Well, some of it is scheduling. As much as we seem to hear about local news lead-ins lately, the networks are not exactly putting their biggest guns in the 10:00 hour. They mostly want the big guns leading into other primetime shows rather than local news, and they often choose 9:00 over 8:00 because more people are watching TV then. Speaking of that, the fact that there are fewer people watching TV at 10:00 also hurts the hour.

But how about DVRing? It's a refrain I've heard a lot in my days trolling TV industry-related forums: "The 10:00 shows aren't just competing against each other, they're competing against DVRed shows from earlier in the night!" Truth? Sometimes it reeked of "excuse" to me at the time, but let's take a look.

In the last post about Same Day DVRing we looked at some of the most and least DVRed shows. Now let's take a look at some averages within each hour of primetime during week 2 of this season.

Averages L+SD Live SDDVR %Live %SDDVR
8:00 2.75 2.18 0.56 80.88% 19.12%
9:00 3.56 2.93 0.63 82.85% 17.15%
10:00 2.32 2.07 0.25 89.69% 10.31%
All 2.93 2.47 0.46 85.16% 14.84%

Note: As in the first post, I'm throwing out repeats, overruns, and pre-game shows. Also not including multi-hour shows since I can't get hourly breakdowns. To keep this as apples-to-apples as possible, these averages also just include broadcast networks that program 10:00: ABC, CBS, NBC. Why not include the 8:00 and 9:00 shows on the other two nets? Because the programming philosophies are different with two hours of primetime. As I said above, "they mostly want the big guns to lead into other primetime shows," and on Fox and the CDub, that means 8:00, home of stuff like House, Glee, Bones, America's Next Top Model, and The Vampire Diaries. 

OK, so on a Live + SD basis, 10:00 looks pretty dire. It's wayyy behind the 9:00 hour and about 16% weaker than the low-viewing 8:00 hour. But break it down to live-only viewing, and 8:00 is just 5% weaker than 10:00. Though the live viewing difference between 8:00 and 10:00 is almost statistically insignificant, 8:00 is same day DVRed much more; the 8:00 shows are viewed more than twice as much in that arena, and that difference makes up the vast majority of the difference between the two hours in the Live + SD numbers. Eight shows I looked at in the last post had a 1.0 or higher demo in the Same Day numbers alone, but last week's #1 10:00 show outright in same day DVRing is Private Practice at a 0.5. 19 shows from 8:00 and 9:00 did better than that, and another 11 tied it at a 0.5! That's thirty shows that did at least as well as the #1 same day DVRed program.

Is it just because the 10:00 shows are that much less "DVR-friendly"? Since we have some Live + 7 numbers for premiere week, we can look at a few shows that get big DVR increases, grouped by hour. The percentages are taken out of the L+7 numbers, not L+SD as in the first table.

HIMYM 2.5 3.6 4.4 1.1 1.9 25.00% 43.18%
NCIS 3.2 4.0 4.9 0.8 1.7 16.33% 34.69%
Survivor 2.9 4.0 4.7 1.1 1.8 23.40% 38.30%
Big Bang Theory 3.4 4.9 6.0 1.5 2.6 25.00% 43.33%
Average 8:00

22.43% 39.88%

The Office 3.1 4.4 5.5 1.3 2.4 23.64% 43.64%
Grey's Anatomy 4.1 5.4 6.8 1.3 2.7 19.12% 39.71%
Modern Family 3.6 5.1 6.4 1.5 2.8 23.44% 43.75%
2.5 Men 4 4.9 5.7 0.9 1.7 15.79% 29.82%
Average 9:00

20.50% 39.23%

Hawaii Five-0 3.5 3.9 5.0 0.4 1.5 8.00% 30.00%
The Mentalist 3.0 3.4 4.4 0.4 1.4 9.09% 31.82%
Parenthood 2.1 2.5 3.4 0.4 1.3 11.76% 38.24%
Private Practice 2.7 3.3 4.3 0.6 1.6 13.95% 37.21%
Average 10:00

10.70% 34.32%

Lot of numbers to make a fairly minor point, but here it is: the 10:00 disadvantage is not because the shows are much less DVRed overall. Yes, the %DVR viewing is a little less overall at 10:00, but by a smaller amount than the same day difference. The after-air date DVR viewing (%DVR minus %SD) is actually highest at 10:00.

So it's not because they're just inherently less DVR-able shows. At least that's not a big reason. What is the reason?

This might seem elementary, but 10:00 shows are much less same day DVRed because there is less time to same day DVR them. (Yes, a pretty underwhelming conclusion to spill this much ink getting to!) Of course, the window lasts till 3:00am for all three hours, so it's simple math to see that the window shrinks the later you get into the evening.

But it's not just that the window is two hours shorter for 10:00 shows than it is for 8:00 shows, it's that the two hour difference in DVRable time is inside primetime. For all the flexibility the DVR has created in viewing habits, it hasn't changed the fact that 8:00 to 11:00 is called "primetime" for a reason. That's still when the highest level of viewing occurs, even on the DVR. And the 10:00 shows miss out on two hours of primetime same day DVRable time that the 8:00 shows have.

Oh yeah, and when you're DVRing something from the first two hours, you may well be doing that during the 10:00 hour, taking away people who might be watching live! We can't really quantify that, except to note that it stands to reason that a lot of that "extra" DVR viewing of 8:00/9:00 shows versus 10:00 is likely taking place at 10:00. Just thought I'd point it out.

So... does this matter? Probably not that much. If we put 10:00 on a level playing field DVR-wise (meaning taking the same live numbers with the ~18% DVR use of the first two hours), that would mean giving it a couple extra tenths in the Live + SD numbers. I've pointed out some pretty noticeable percentage differences, but we're still mostly talking about fairly small raw numbers. I don't think you can extrapolate some kind of huge increase for these shows if they aired elsewhere. I feel fairly sure after crunching these numbers that a 10:00 show moved to 8:00 would start getting same day DVRed more (especially percentage-wise), but you never know if the overall ratings would change due to smaller lead-ins and more scripted competition.

I will say that percentage-wise, the 10:00 hour does get a bit of a raw deal in Live + Same Day numbers because there's so much less DVR usage involved. As the number of households with DVRs continues to grow, that raw deal could very well continue to get magnified. The 10:00 hour is likely to keep looking worse in Live + Same Day. That's probably the most important point out of all of this.

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