Wednesday, September 14, 2011

SpotVault - The Vault Is Open.

For the last couple years, my endeavors in the world of TV ratings have been split between two sites: this blog and Marc Berman's forum, where I would post the extensive archive of ratings info that I've been using in other ways (most prominently The War of 18-49) here at this blarg. I'm not sure how many people even know that, and I'm not sure how many people at PIFeedback know about this blog, but it's time that the twain shall meet.

Starting with the 2011-12 season, I'm going to move the majority of my work in that arena over here (though I will keep doing them to some extent at Marc's new forum). With PIFeedback ending recently, I have to make a move anyway, and may as well do it to somewhere with better functionality than a forum. The goal is to create a jam-packed, unprecedented archive of ratings information. Feel free to bookmark your favorite show's page and check back often.

The first few are going up today, but if you absolutely can't wait another few hours, here's a sample of what the average page will look like. Any feedback is welcome!


The current plan is to create SpotVault pages ASAP after finals come out for the next couple weeks. As we get deeper into the regular season, I will scale back to primarily doing SpotVault updates for the previous week on Wednesday and Thursday of each week (after I get the half-hour breakdowns). But even that'll be a play-by-ear situation. If it's still taking too much time, I may have to plan on spilling some/much of it over to the weekend or (as I was doing at PIFeedback) scale back to doing updates every other week.

There will be a post for each show, meaning there will be tons of posts flowing out in the next few weeks. Not sure if I'll turn off my Feedburner auto-tweeter or schedule some for late at night or just embrace the spam. Anyway, I'm starting with the three broadcast shows that premiered last night and marked the unofficial start of fall 2011.

At the very start, this will just be 2011-12 broadcast primetime shows. There are a couple obvious steps to be taken after that: cable and previous seasons. Both of these require a lot of additional formatting work and data entry that (for now) is not quite as organic as the current broadcast shows, but I plan on integrating both eventually. Cable will likely enter the mix within a few weeks depending on how the workload is shaping up. Previous seasons will probably not start showing up until the holiday hiatus in December at the earliest.


Here's a quick example of what each table will look like:

Info RatingsFactors Metrics
# Day Date Time Length Viewers A18-49 Share PUT bc Lead TS Sitch
1 Mo 9/20/2010 10:00 1:00 10.696 2.7 7 37.1 8.9 5.1 2.27 +19%
2 Mo 9/27/2010 10:00 1:00 11.076 2.8 8 35.4 8.5 4.8 2.75 +2%
3 Mo 10/4/2010 10:00 1:00 10.834 2.6 7 37.1 7.8 4.3 2.19 +19%
4 Mo 10/11/2010 10:00 1:00 10.655 2.7 7 38.4 7.3 4.0 2.26 +20%
5 Mo 10/18/2010 10:00 1:00 10.949 2.5 7 36.8 7.0 4.0 2.08 +20%
6 Mo 10/25/2010 10:00 1:00 11.322 2.9 8 35.0 7.0 4.3 2.87 +1%

Info - These are common knowledge things; we have the episode number, the day of the week, the date, the start time and the episode length. For logistical reasons, I'll continue to round off "Time" and "Length" for minor overruns (like when a program runs to 10:02 rather than 10:00). Otherwise, those should be fairly self-explanatory.

Ratings - All of these numbers come straight from Nielsen (though I get them indirectly from other people), meaning I haven't "massaged" them in any way.

Viewers - The number of total viewers age 2+ (in millions) that watched the program. I don't really use those for most of what I do here, but they're a very accessible kind of number, and for an archiving purpose like this I may as well have it.

A18-49 - Adults 18-49 rating. The average percentage of TV-owning adults 18-49 in the USA that watched the program. More in Intro to Nielsen Ratings.

Share - Adults 18-49 share. The average percentage of TV-watching adults 18-49 in the USA that watched the program.

Factors - These three numbers comprise the "big three" things that have an influence on TV ratings not counting the "True Strength" of the show. Important note: these are all things that I have to calculate/estimate, but I don't do any massaging beyond that as I do in the True Strength calculations. (This means I don't convert to Old Methodology, I don't adjust broadcast PUT for the 10:00 hour, etc.)

PUT - Average percentage of TV-owning adults 18-49 persons currently using TV in the show's timeslot. This is an estimate based on all the ratings/shares in a given timeslot, so there is some margin of error.

bc - Average percentage of TV-owning adults 18-49 watching known broadcast TV shows that air in the show's timeslot.

Lead - Adults 18-49 rating of the show's lead-in, or the rating of the previous program on the same network.

Metrics - So we've gone from the Nielsen-supplied to the unmassaged calculations to the heavily massaged calculations. I spent a huge part of the summer 2011 looking at TV ratings from a wide variety of angles and eventually came up with these numbers.

TRUE - "True Strength" is the main fruit of my labor this summer, a metric that adjusts the A18-49 rating for overall viewing levels, competition and lead-in. This number is (supposed to be) more consistent across drastic timeslot moves and across the entirety of the season than raw adults 18-49 ratings.

Sitch - The first "spinoff" number of True Strength is "Sitch," but it's considerably less complicated than True. It calculates the percent difference between TRUE and 18-49 rating, a measure of how easy or difficult a given show's timeslot is. The higher the Sitch, the "easier" or more beneficial the show's timeslot situation. I guess if your goal is to be able to make excuses for your show's ratings, lower Sitch is better.

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