Friday, November 4, 2011

Notes from the Vault, 11/4/11: World Series Effects

Very interesting week in TV ratings, particularly Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. So I'll just take a look at each of those separately with the TRUE metric.

What Happened On Wednesday?

Game 6 of the World Series got rained out, and most other nets were at least partially in repeats (you can attribute that to squeezing in a pre-sweeps repeat or to ducking potential baseball). ABC was almost in full force but had a repeat of last season's Halloween Modern Family.

Against the lessened competition, five of six originals hit outright season highs. This is nice but perhaps not terribly unexpected. What did TRUE think of those originals, along with Revenge (which was up week-to-week but against no real competition)?

As I said on the Ratings Five-Spot this week, for most of the shows it didn't "matter" because the shows weren't in any short-term danger. But it also didn't "matter" that much even in terms of ratings. In TRUE, The Middle was 1% below average, Suburgatory 6% above, Survivor 2% above and Revenge 5% below. None of those went beyond what you'd think of as typical week-to-week variance. America's Next Top Model did make something of a big move (up 15%), but it's squandered some of that this week in dropping back to a 0.8 A18-49.

The only one that looked to me like a game-changer was Happy Endings. It's jumped around a lot this season but was mostly in the very general vicinity of a 2.00 TRUE in its first four weeks. This one was different; the show spiked to a 3.5 A18-49 despite its weakest lead-in of the season and posted a 2.85 TRUE. Then it did almost as well with a 3.4 this week against full competition (and preliminary around the same TRUE). In other words... it looks like, for at least one more week, I was right that Happy Endings' increase was more "true" than some of the others. Perhaps it really did turn a corner somehow.

Compared to the previous week, here's how the "broadcast Persons Using TV" and the "overall PUT" changed on Wednesday:

8:00: -2.9 bc, -0.4 PUT
8:30: -3.1 bc, -2.0 PUT
9:00: -6.3 bc, -1.7 PUT
9:30: -4.6 bc, -2.5 PUT
10:00 hour: -1.8 bc, -0.8 PUT

With so much less competition (an average of 3.4 fewer known broadcast points per half hour), the overall Persons Using TV was down by about 1.4 on average. That means there were 2.0 points that flocked elsewhere on TV. (See the season highs from Psych and American Horror Story?)

What Happened on Thursday?

The rain-delayed Game 6 happened. As I mentioned when I did the post, most shows performed relatively along gender lines when just perusing the raw 18-49 numbers from Thursday. In other words, relatively male-leaning NBC got slammed, relatively "normal" CBS took minor to no hits, and some shows on heavily female ABC and CW benefited.

TRUE seemed to pretty well encapsulate most of those shows' performances; the regular stuff on ABC, CW, and most of CBS was quite close to even with the previous week. But NBC got absolutely slammed. In TRUE, Community was down 32% from last week! Parks was down 17%, The Office down 20%, Whitney down 6%, and Prime Suspect down 25%. These were all larger drops than the shows actually took in raw 18-49 ratings. So what caused this? Well, as I've mentioned in a previous edition... it would seem I am undercounting sports as competition, and I guess that really matters for a lineup like this which skews male. Combine that with the general PUT inflation (the day was +1.5 overall from last Thursday) and it got ugly. It really doesn't seem like facing the World Series should be an "easier" situation, but it usually was if you believe the Sitch calculations. And most of those shows bounced back to approximately pre-World Series levels last night... so it seems those shows should not have gone significantly down in TRUE.

This evening was yet another big indicator that my Sports as Competition adjustment was a big #fail. Even if it's about "right" that sports count as half-competition, they shouldn't be counted that way, because the half-competition and THEN the viewing level inflation sports typically cause a big double-whammy. I'd say it looks like the biggest fail of last summer's whole process by far.

What Happened on Friday?

Coming in, I thought this was one of the more interesting TV ratings days of the year, and it didn't really disappoint. What did Game 7 of the World Series do to overall viewing on a normally-depressed night? It jacked it up from its usual Friday average of right around 31% up to over 33% (+2.3 overall), or by a little less than a third of Fox's overall rating from 8:00 thru 11:00 (7.1). It brought viewership to the evening in greater droves than Game 6 (where it was a +1.5 day when Fox got a 5.6 8:00-11:00 rating), but keep in mind that Fox's normal Thursday ratings are much bigger than their normal Friday ratings, so the difference in what Fox was contributing was much more stark.

Despite all that, Grimm found a way to premiere with a 2.1 A18-49 rating, which translated to a 2.45 TRUE. That may not seem like "enough" of a boost in TRUE considering basically everything was working against it, but... it was still NBC's Truly biggest drama episode of the season (edging the SVU premiere's 2.4 A18-49/2.41 TRUE). Another one of those "if only sports counted for more..." situations.

What would Game 7 (7.4 A18-49 on Friday) have done on Thursday? I can only SpecTrulate. Take its 7.45 TRUE (8:00-10:00 only), give it the Thursday Game 6 Sitch (+2%), then add a multiplier to reflect the 8:00-10:00 ratings vs. the full game ratings (it averaged 6.3 from 8:00 to 10:00, 7.4 the whole way, meaning +17%). 7.45 * 102% * 117% = an 8.9 demo. That would've been 37% higher than the Game 6 rating, which is closer to Game 7 spikes in recent history. Still somewhat behind, but that makes sense considering the high drama of Game 6.

What would Grimm (2.1 A18-49 on Friday) have done in Prime Suspect's Thursday timeslot? Giving its 2.45 TRUE a +15% Sitch (which is about what Prime usually gets in relatively "normal" circumstances), that'd be a 2.8 demo. (Maybe a tick lower since a 2.8 would probably have a lower Sitch due to building big out of Whitney, but then again, maybe a little higher if sports are being undercounted.) Wouldn't that have been something on a network whose biggest drama episode on the entire network this whole season got a 2.4?

Why do I mention Prime Suspect's timeslot in particular? Because that's where I think it should be moved...!

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