Thursday, August 18, 2011

True Strength: What is a "Normal" Lead-in?

This will be a quickie. As with competition, I started trying to find a single constant baseline that I could use and quickly realized that wasn't a good way of going about it. With competition, I started finding a "normal broadcast PUT" that would basically be equal to 4.5 times the average True Strength (for the 4.5 big networks). With lead-ins, I just went with the average True Strength of a primetime TV program, which is about a 2.2. The average lead-in should be the average program, right?

It became evident this was sort of counterintuitive, because shows like Two and a Half Men which have decent lead-ins but build significantly out of them are actually penalized for having an "above-average lead-in."

I started thinking about it a different way: it should be more about what you do with the lead-in than what the lead-in is. So why don't we just use the show's True Strength itself as an "expected lead-in"? Using that as the baseline, a show is penalized for dropping from its lead-in and rewarded for growing from its lead-in, which seems simple enough. Perhaps it's an oversimplification sometimes; for example, it might seem a little harsh to penalize a show that airs out of American Idol's 8.0 demo and gets a 7.0. But that situation still brings a much lighter penalty than if it had an average (2.2) lead-in. And the show gets enough credit for having a 7.0 rating to begin with, really.

Since I can't really think of a better way, we will go with this. Build, you get a bonus. Decline, you get a deduction. Basically, the way the lead-in adjustment will work is that a half-hour show gets a True Strength addition equal to 1/5 of how much it builds from its lead-in, or a subtraction of 1/5 of how much it declines. Hour shows get 1/6, ninety-minute shows 1/7, two-hour shows 1/8.

And with that, we're done with all the adjustments I've thought of so far! So over the next couple days, we'll wrap it up with one final (for now) version of the formula, and I will also try to put in layman's terms all the stuff I've been doing this summer.

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