Sunday, August 21, 2011

True Strength: What's the Sitch?

It's my hope that the True Strength project doesn't just create one big superstat, because I think it's pretty difficult to get one big superstat to account for every situation. I hope I can use it to develop other numbers that help explain other things. Today, our first secondary stat, and it's a very simple one.

I call it "Sitch," a measurement of the difficulty of a given show's situation. Sitch is the percentage difference between a show's True Strength and its A18-49 rating. In other words, how much does the "situation" affect a show's A18-49 rating? In terms of trying to make excuses for your show, the lower the Sitch the better, because it means the timeslot is tougher AKA bringing down the show's rating.

Starting this Monday, the Sitch stat will be a part of my fall preview as I look at how difficult various timeslots are. (I'm not including it in today's Sunday 7/6c post because the timeslot is pretty weird for several reasons.)

Shows within 10% of a zero Sitch (-10% thru +10%) are in relatively normal situations. Shows with a less than -10% Sitch are in particularly "tough" situations, while shows with a greater than +10% Sitch are in particularly "easy" situations.

The average True Strength and the average A18-49 rating are almost exactly equal across the entirety of the 2010-11 regular season. However, most original entertainment programs have a positive Sitch (meaning they're in comparitively "easy" situations). This is because of adjustments that close the gap between the weekend and the weeknights. The vast majority of entertainment programs air during the week, when True Strength is usually brought down to a more level playing field with weekends. A lot of the positive Sitches belong to weekend programming (much of which is repeats).

The formula is: Sitch = 100% * (A18-49 rating - TRUE) / TRUE

I went back and forth on whether to do it this way or use the difference from the True Strength. I thought the other way (100% * (TRUE - A18-49) / A18-49) might make a little more intuitive sense because it basically fills in the blank for: "Program X is _____ stronger than its ratings indicate." I may end up making that a stat later on.

Anyway, for now, I went with the other way because I think it will be better for predictive purposes. If you know a program with True Strength X is moving into a timeslot whose shows usually have a Sitch Y, then you can just go X * (1 + Y) to get an estimated rating. It's a bit more complicated than that (or at least I will inevitably make it so), and it may not work very well, but that's generally how I will predict ratings when a show is undergoing a big change in situation. Also, it's more befitting of the name "Sitch," which absolutely must stay.

As far as another fill-in-the-blank sentence, I'd say the current calculation of Sitch fills in the blank for this sentence: "Program X's timeslot situation changes its ratings by _____."

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