Tuesday, August 16, 2011

True Strength: The Local Programming Lead-In

As I said a few posts back, one of the things we have to do when looking at lead-ins is figure out an estimated value for the lead-in for programs airing at 8:00. As with the one-hour shows with big lead-in changes, we don't have a big sample size to go on here. There are very few one-hour shows that aired at 8:00 with a local programming lead-in and then aired at some other time with a primetime lead-in.

The size of the local programming lead-in is going to be different on each network, but I'm not sure we can really come up with a different value for each network. Here's a sample of what the local programming picture looks like from Son Of The Bronx (these are HH ratings):
@spotupj 7/27/11 locals 7-8pm: ABC 4.8/9, CBS & NBC each 3.7/7, FOX 1.8/3, CW 1.3/3, ION 0.4/1, UNI 1.5/3, TEL 0.7/1
So Fox likely has a disadvantage, though I doubt it is as big as it appears here among 18-49 because the "big three" make up most of the Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy! affiliates (with ABC having the most, I'm pretty sure), and those programs famously have huge viewerships but skew absolutely ancient. I know my own Fox affiliate has Two and a Half Men at 7:30, which probably skews a lot younger.

The best example of a show to look at for a local programming lead-in approximation is Fox's Bones, a veteran standalone show which aired the first half of the season at 8:00 and the second half at 9:00 after American Idol. Here are the averages:

Timeslot Lead Com-TS
8:00 ??? 2.65
9:00 after Idol 8.04 3.22

So we see that Bones didn't really get much of a boost from the Idol lead-in (in raw 18-49 ratings, it was not much more, just 2.53 vs. 3.29 or +0.76). If you use that 1/6 lead-out to lead-in change number we came up with last time, that means the growth of the lead-in should be six times that or +3.40. Subtract that and you have an estimated value of the local programming lead-in a 4.64! I'm pretty sure that's way too high considering the household rating was only a 1.8!

So let's attach the 1/11 number that similar veteran standalone shows Criminal Minds and Lie to Me had, and we get something closer... a 6.27 change in lead-in, leaving the local programming lead-in estimate at 1.81. That seems reasonable considering it's a True Strength, meaning it'd be lower than that in raw 18-49 (because the viewing levels are much lower at 7:00).

Now let's look at a few other "surrounding" or "nearby" episode comparisons with a few other shows. (As I said, there aren't many.) Just for the sake of speeding this along, I'll plug in the 1.81 we got from Bones as a local programming lead-in.

Small Big Change

Lead Com-TS Lead Com-TS Lead Com-TS %
Glee post-SB 1.81 4.62 19.11 10.81 +17.30 +6.19 36%
Glee finale 1.81 3.89 7.43 4.43 +5.62 +0.54 10%
Human Target 1.81 1.42 8.75 2.09 +6.94 +0.67 10%
No Ordinary Family 1.81 1.64 2.49 1.75 +0.68 +0.11 17%

So you can make (fanwank?) most of this to line up with how we've been operating thus far. There are a few things in play with the post-Super Bowl Glee; first, the program after the Super Bowl is an event that is promoted pretty much unlike anything else. Second, while I used the postgame number as the lead-in, there were LOTS of people watching the Super Bowl just minutes before, so perhaps the actual increase in effective lead-in should be higher. The Glee finale arguably should've done better, but both it and Human Target did about what veteran programs like Lie to Me and Criminal Minds did, while No Ordinary Family's slight bump after some holiday specials is more in line with what the new shows did. Overall, throwing out the post-Super Bowl Glee (an aberration on several levels), the 1.81 local programming lead-in estimate again seems relatively reasonable.

The CW

Because there are no really good 8:00 vs. 9:00 comparisons on the CW, we just have to come up with something else. I think it probably is necessary to come up with something else, because a 1.81 lead-in is pretty far ahead of most of what the CW airs in primetime. What I did was take the ratio between CW programming in the HH figures above (1.3) and the average of everyone else's programming (3.5). That gave me about 37%. Then I multiplied that times the 1.81 we've been using above to get 0.67. Pretty rudimentary way of figuring it, but we'll just use that as a starting point for CW 8:00 lead-ins for now. Really drilling down exact numbers is not worth devoting a lot of effort to, because even if it should be 0.90 rather than 0.67, for example, that'd only throw the average True Strength off by like 0.04 points. I'll take it. At least I got this number from somewhere.

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