Thursday, July 28, 2011

True Strength: Competition 101 - Going Up Against TV Events

As I really only started to formalize in the last post, there are basically two baseline things we have to come up with for each of the "big three" adjustments: 1) how much a change in competition leads to a change in ratings, and 2) what an "expected" level of competition is for a given show. To get the first, we'll take a look at how shows are impacted ratings-wise in the face of big "TV events." (We already looked earlier at how those things drive up overall viewing.)

Competition vs. Broadcast PUT

I mentioned last post that I'd be looking at competition, but I've since decided to make these comparisons using something I started using in an earlier post: what I call "Broadcast Persons Using TV (PUT)," or basically the sum of all known ratings on the big five broadcasters in a given timeslot. I'm using this because, as I said in the last post laying out the competition issues, the pure "Competition" stat (sum of all broadcast ratings minus the rating of the show itself) can actually be pretty wildly variable even within the same timeslot, just because the different sized shows each contribute differently to the other shows' competition levels. So I think just including every show will create a more consistent idea of how heavy the competition is (even if it does sorta mean a show is being counted as facing itself).

Determining the Baselines

This post took ages because I've spent a ton of time trying to come up with a particularly strong correlation between competition levels and individual show ratings. I've tried tracking changes in Broadcast PUT vs. changes in a show's "Broadcast Share" (a stat I also used to post in daily Spotted Ratings tables). In other words, as the competition rises, perhaps there's a predictable amount that a show's "standing" in the timeslot decreases.

Ultimately, I'm going to keep plugging away at some of this stuff, but for now I think the best route is to do what I said in the last post: look at competition changes vs. ratings changes.

As always, we'll start with how shows do in the face of big changes. The best big change in competition is the arrival of American Idol, because there are so many data points for each show both before and after Idol's arrival. Here are the shows regularly scheduled both against Idol and not against Idol in the same timeslot.

no Idol vs. Idol Change %Change

Hut-TS bcPUT Hut-TS bcPUT Hut-TS bcPUT Hut-TS bcPUT
Survivor 3.55 11.19 3.17 14.10 -0.38 +2.91 -11% +26%
The Middle 2.65 10.74 2.21 14.06 -0.44 +3.31 -17% +31%
Better with You 2.24 10.67 1.74 13.66 -0.50 +2.99 -22% +28%
Modern Family 4.22 12.21 4.03 15.99 -0.19 +3.78 -5% +31%
Community 1.99 11.63 1.78 14.79 -0.22 +3.16 -11% +27%
The Big Bang Theory 4.32 11.66 3.82 15.26 -0.50 +3.60 -12% +31%
The Vampire Diaries 1.54 11.42 1.38 14.53 -0.16 +3.11 -11% +27%

It's kinda unfortunate that these numbers are all fairly close, so we can't look at a bunch of different-size increases in competition, but ultimately most of these line up relatively well when comparing bcPUT and True Strength. The increase in bcPUT is on average a little over three, and the average hit to True Strength is somewhere in the low teens percentage wise. To make it official:

Survivor +3.65
The Middle +4.99
Better with You +7.42
Modern Family +1.21
Community +3.46
The Big Bang Theory +3.21
The Vampire Diaries +3.43

On average, for each 1.0 increase in broadcast PUT, these shows' True Strength declines by 3.90%.

Sunday's another good place to look at big competition changes because of all the big awards shows. Here's how a few shows do against the big Sunday awards shows as opposed to on a "regular" Sunday (that is, those Sundays without football or awards shows):

bcHUT Hut-TS %per
Desperate Housewives +3.40 -15% +4.37
The Simpsons +3.89 -5% +1.40
The Cleveland Show +3.33 -13% +3.78
Family Guy +3.05 -2% +0.50
Extreme Makeover: Home Edition +3.60 -33% +9.11

Throwing these five in brings the average decrease per 1.0 bcHUT to about 3.7%. That average is thrown off wildly by some huge exceptions that make it clear competition does not remotely affect all shows equally. For example, Better with You is a new show whose audience is much more likely to flee against new competition. And it would seem to make a whole lot of sense that The Simpsons and Family Guy, for example, don't have a lot of overlap with awards shows.

However, there are enough shows floating in the general 3.5% vicinity that I think 3.5% is pretty decent starting point. I'll bump it up a bit to 3.75% per point because the drops are usually a little bigger percentage-wise coming down. (For example, if we started with the against-Idol numbers, Survivor goes up 12% rather than 11% because you're doing a percentage change against a smaller number).

So this is kind of a crude way of getting there, but we'll operate under the assumption (unless I have a eureka moment between now and the end of the summer) that the average 1.0 change in broadcast PUT will change the other shows in the timeslot by 3.75% in the other direction.

I said we'd start off by setting the first two baselines, but in the next post (or two) I think I'm gonna have to look at the impact of big sports competition and 10:00 competition first. I believe I'll need those adjustments in the mix before we can start putting all "broadcast PUT" on a level playing field.

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