Friday, October 28, 2011

Notes from the Vault, 10/28/11

Sort of a quickie grab bag edition this week, and again mostly about my True Strength calculations rather than using them. I promise, at some point soon I'll try to do some more comparisons using the number!

SpecTrulation Results: Extreme Makeover: Home Edtion

The first-ever edition of "SpecTrulation" went pretty well, as Extreme Makeover: Home Edition moved to Friday night with an average 1.425 demo (based on half-hour breakdowns of 1.1 -> 1.2 -> 1.6 -> 1.8), right on par with my 1.4 projection. Basically the average True Strength was almost exactly equal to what it was on Sunday (if you count it as just one episode, it'd have gotten a 1.55) and the Sitch was, as expected, right around -10% (-8% and -9% for the two eps). I'm sure some of these will be wrong going forward, but it's nice to get off to a good start! Though it's worth noting that if you treat EM:HE as two separate episodes, they got a 1.30 and 1.86 TRUE respectively. That's because of...

The Back-to-Back Effect

When a network schedules a double-dose of the same show and then chooses to count them as separate episodes, it kinda messes up the TRUEs. It typically sets up a situation where the second show has a much lower TRUE than the first because the second has the first episode as a lead-in. Although sometimes (as in EM:HE's case) when the first episode is really low-rated (as in lower-rated than local programming), that tends to "inflate" the second episode instead. Either way, it's a generally pretty sucky situation because it attempts to create a lead-in "dynamic" where there isn't really one; basically, everyone watching the first is gonna stay tuned in for the second half, and there's not going to be a massive audience consciously showing up for just the second half. It's more like one program than two separate ones. So I'm considering just counting these double-episodes as one episode at least for Vault/TRUE purposes.

Early Fall Hype Ending

This probably won't be too noticeable, but starting next week, all TRUE calculations will be free of the "Early Fall Hype" multiplier that brings down the TRUEs for the first six weeks of the season. So they'll all be a teeny bit higher going forward!

Tonight's Game 7

Yesterday's Game 6 dramatics mean there will be a World Series Game 7 for the first time since 2002. And it falls on a Friday night! For a TV ratings geek like myself, this makes for some fascinating stuff. How much will a sports mega-event affect overall viewing levels on a normally viewing-depressed evening? And the flip side... how much will any depression in viewing levels affect the Game 7 ratings? Recent NBA Finals Game 7s have done in the vicinity of 40-60% better than Game 6, although I'm guessing last night's five-hour affair will be no ordinary Game 6 ratings-wise. And, oh yeah... can a series premiere do anything at all against a sports mega-event? All these things would normally seem like mere hypotheticals, because usually the networks wouldn't schedule mega-events on depressed evenings and wouldn't schedule premieres against mega-events (or even the possibility of mega-events). But thanks to the Wednesday weather delays, they'll all come to life. Can't wait for the game or the ratings, and in next week's Notes I'll take a look at what happened in the ratings.

Competition Circle

One thing I mentioned last summer was that a future step might be to come up with a more complex competition calculation that takes into account the genre of the competition. My main example at the time was all the unscripted shows that tend to take a larger hit from facing American Idol than scripted shows. But some of this baseball vs. football craziness has only magnified that problem. Sunday Night Football and Game 4 of the World Series were probably mutually destructive last Sunday, but both shows were only counted as "half-competition" even for each other (meaning Game 4 had what'll be the Series' lowest TRUE and the football game will also probably be a season low). If anything, it should be the opposite and sports-vs.-sports should be counted as "more competition."

So that's definitely another strike in favor of figuring out something more elaborate next summer. Basically my idea at the moment is that there would be five-ish genres in a circle (something along the lines of comedy, drama, unscripted, sports, specials) and anything within the same genre counts as "more" competition, anything in the two adjacent genres would count about evenly, and anything in the two "opposite" genres would count as "less" competition. I don't know that those are the genres and I also don't know what the percentage adjustments would be at this point. Just spitballin'.

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