Tuesday, August 21, 2012

True2 Week: The Lead-In Adjustment

True2 Week: Viewing | Lead-ins | Competition pt1 | Competition pt2 | Wrap-Up

It's part two of the week of vomiting out True2 info! Lots of big changes in the lead-ins portion of the equation.

The Lead-in Impact

We'll start with pretty much the only thing I didn't change in the lead-in realm: the size of lead-in impact. Last year, my formula for the size of a lead-in impact was 1/(4 + length in half-hours). In other words, a half-hour show's ratings will change by 1/5 of the lead-in change, a one-hour show by 1/6 of the lead-in change, and a two-hour show by 1/8 of the lead-in change. I tend to believe that the impact of a lead-in will lessen over time as DVRing proliferates, but 1) the current impact numbers don't really seem that problematic based on what I'm looking at and 2) it so happens that aren't a whole lot of good examples of drastic primetime lead-in changes in the 2011-12 season. There were some shows like Happy Endings and Rules of Engagement that periodically aired after repeats, but their numbers don't seem too off the mark based on lead-ins. We'll see if there's some more good stuff to re-evaluate next year.

Exiting the Gap

As I said in the preview post a couple months back, I'm switching away from a fundamental part of last year's lead-in calculation, which I call "the gap." The idea was that a show's lead-in adjustment was about the difference between the show's ratings and the lead-in's ratings. My main rationale was that this would help "protect" big shows that also happen to have big lead-ins.

Unfortunately, that was pretty stupid. A big lead-in is a big lead-in no matter what you do relative to it. Big shows with small lead-ins got huge inflations, while shows that dropped from their lead-ins were absolutely killed. It also tended to muddle the impact number above. For example, a show that drops by 0.3 with the same lead-in would actually drop by 0.3 and then also see the "gap" get 0.3 bigger. That made predictions with True 1.0 pretty tough. If you're off on what the lead-in will be, you're gonna get doubly killed because of the gap.

The new standard is simply an average primetime program. Adjusted for viewing levels, that's 5.5% of the TPUT. So the lead-in adjustment equals (5.5% * TPUT) - Lead-In. (For the CW, the expected number is divided by four, since the CW is only about a fourth of a network.)

Local Programming

Last season, 8:00 True Strength scores seemed inflated pretty much all season long. (These two shows in particular had lengthy runs both at 8:00 and later in the night, and both did massively better at 8:00. Perhaps they should've done a bit better, but probably not to that extent.)

I developed an estimate for the size of the local programming lead-ins at 7:30 based, frankly, on very little real info. Now, I don't think the 8:00 problems were all about that number being inaccurate; I think "the gap" described above also played a big role in that. (8:00 shows with big ratings got a huge bonus for building from a 1.81 lead-in.)

Whoever deserves the blame, the fact remains that 8:00 is still fairly advantaged from a True standpoint by having such low relative viewing levels. So it seems pretty reasonable to me to just not have a local programming advantage. In other words, local programming is always counted as 5.5% of the TPUT, meaning there's no lead-in adjustment for shows in the lead-off role.

Sports Adjustment

One disadvantage to dropping "the gap" is that with enormously-rated lead-ins, sometimes "the gap" produced a more reasonable number than a simple "normal lead-in" adjustment like the one above, since the rating for the show itself was inflated to a number much higher than 5.5% of the PUT. I've found this is almost always most applicable with sports events, so with sports lead-ins I'm saying they will only count as 75% of the rating. (I can fanwank this by saying that typically there's a bit of post-game coverage that makes the rating a lot smaller by the end than what it is for the full final half-hour.) This seems to help significantly, but there's still a lot of volatility among shows with sports lead-ins. So I'm going to make an effort to dig up more detailed info on post-game shows when applicable.

Last Half-Hour

I also wanted to note that lead-ins for True2 will be based on the last half-hour of the lead-in rather than the full program rating. I didn't really do any research into this aspect or have anything to add, it just seems like a no-brainer to use a number that's more indicative of the audience size at the end of the program. I probably would've done it last year if I'd been more sure I was gonna have half-hour breakdowns.

The Lead-In Adjustment

Here are the steps for the lead-in adjustment:

Lead-in Impact: 1/(4 + length in half-hours)
Lead-in Baseline: 5.5% * TPUT (* 0.25 if CW) - Lead-In ( * 0.75 if sports)
Lead-in Adjustment: Impact * Baseline 

Tomorrow, competition!

True2 Week: Viewing | Lead-ins | Competition pt1 | Competition pt2 | Wrap-Up

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