This year, I looked at 48 fall programs that returned to the same timeslot. That's way more than I had last year, since I now have averages for several returning shows that I didn't last year. (To reiterate from last year's version, I just look at same timeslot shows to try to limit the influence of speculation in the ad rates, but no doubt it's still a factor.) The next two scatter plots show Live + Same Day, original only adults 18-49 average vs. ad rates and then total viewer average vs. ad rates.
As with last year's version, the easiest way to go is just the eye test; the adults 18-49 one looks much more linear. The viewer one has a better correlation than last year's (r = 0.61 this year compared to 0.46 last year), but the demo correlation is still much, much stronger (at r = 0.92). This methodology isn't perfect because of how many things go into setting these numbers, including but not limited to speculation, other demos more specific than all adults 18-49, and small differences between Live + SD and commercial ratings, but it's still a pretty strong correlation between adults 18-49 and ad rates, and not nearly as strong a correlation between total viewers and ad rates.
I'm not gonna rehash too much of the stuff I did in last year's post, and I encourage you to look at last year's version if you want me to drill home the "demo matters" point in a few other ways. I will look at this particular stat again: when I take all the prices per demo point for all these shows and average them, along with the prices per million viewers, just 9 of 48 shows fall more than 25% off of the A18-49 price average (which is roughly $44,000/spot for each 1.0 in A18-49), while 28 of 48 shows fall more than 25% away from the total viewer price average.
That's one additional way of showing there's a much better correlation, but what I wanted to look at is those 9 outliers. One is Dateline NBC, a Friday show just barely outside of that arbitrary 25% range (it commands 26% less than the ~$44,000 average price per demo point). Then there are these eight major outliers, four that get huge rates considering their demo and four that get miniscule rates considering their demo.
|48 Hours Mystery||1.35||34979||25910.37||-41.09%|
|America's Most Wanted||1.65||47086||28536.97||-35.12%|
|The Cleveland Show||3.16||188997||59809.18||+35.97%|
Now, I don't really claim to know why these shows claim rates so disproportionate to their demos, but the first four shows air on Saturday, which probably makes them particularly un-sexy options for advertisers on this night widely pronounced dead. Only ABC's college football franchise commands something close to a typical price per demo on that evening.
The last four are all animated comedies airing on Fox Sundays. Even considering they are strong in the hard-to-find males 18-34 demo and are heavily viewed live*, it may seem shocking just how many ad dollars they get for their demos. But it's nothing new; last year The Simpsons and Family Guy were also the two biggest outliers I could find.
*- In my Same Day DVR research, all four shows saw at least 88% of their Live + SD viewing take place live, well above the 81% average for returning scripted shows.
There are definitely a handful of shows floating around out there for which the raw adults 18-49 numbers don't tell the story of their appeal (or lack thereof) to advertisers. For the overwhelming majority of shows, though, adults 18-49 is still quite a good indicator. Not that this is really that valid statistically, but throw out the eight outlying shows above and the correlation coefficient for adults 18-49 vs. ad rates improves to r = 0.95. Pretty solid.
A few other observations to come later!