Friday, September 7, 2012

Illustrating the True2 Differences

As I said when I finished unloading all the True2 info a couple weeks ago, I wanted to do something that illustrated the differences between the 2011-12 True Strength metric and the new (and hopefully improved) 2012-13 edition in a more practical setting. I talked about a lot of stuff during that week, but only some of it makes a huge difference in how the numbers actually shake out.

To reiterate, this is just about differences between True1 and True2. If you weren't following this blog during the 2011-12 regular season, or if you didn't really pay attention to the True Top 25 and the True Power Rankings, this stuff will be completely meaningless. I'd only read on if you have some recollection of how the number worked last season.

I initially planned on doing a full-fledged set of Power Rankings, but I don't really think that much is necessary just for the purposes of illustrating a few relatively pithy points about True2 changes. So I'm gonna do it all in this here one post with some mini-Power Rankings of sorts. I thought about just looking at the last third or so of the season, but since I'm not really talking about the specific shows, I just went with the full season numbers for this time.

ABC Comedies

A18-49 TRUE True2 1 -> 2 Sitch1 Sitch2
Modern Family 5.05 5.54 4.74 -14% -9% +6%
The Middle 2.60 3.04 2.66 -13% -15% -2%
Suburgatory 2.60 2.60 2.45 -6% +0% +6%
Last Man Standing 2.42 2.60 2.31 -11% -7% +4%
Happy Endings 2.71 2.05 2.13 +4% +32% +27%
Apartment 23 2.34 1.88 2.12 +13% +25% +10%
Cougar Town 1.41 1.39 1.58 +14% +2% -11%
Work It 1.75 1.39 1.54 +11% +26% +14%
Man Up! 1.85 1.52 1.48 -3% +22% +25%

1) Socialism!

The biggest takeaway, really, is that compared to last year's edition, this one looks like Robin Hood. The rich get poorer (see the top 4, all down at least 5% from TRUE to True2) while the poor generally get richer. Where there was a gap of more than 0.5 points in TRUE between Last Man Standing and Happy Endings, that's more like 0.2 now. (And if I were just looking at recent results as I did in the Power Rankings, LMS and HE were in a virtual dead heat at the end of the season.)

As I said during the True2 process, there are several big reasons for this:

2) The New Competition

One big reason why virtually every big hit on TV is down 10% or more in True2 vs. True1 is because they all get credited with a lot less competition than before. As I've said many times, in True1 the shows "faced themselves," while now they... don't exactly "not face themselves," but it's somewhere in the middle. For example: American Idol going up against Modern Family / Criminal Minds / Law and Order: SVU / Top Model on four networks is a lot easier per network than going up against those four shows plus Idol itself on five networks.

The flip side is that low-rated shows now do not "face themselves," which is actually a benefit.

3) The New Fall Hype

For the most part, the fall hype is not particularly obvious on these tables since most of these shows aired for the full season. It generally does not really hurt the full season averages. But for shows that air exclusively late in the season, it can be a big difference-maker. Notice how Happy Endings and Apartment 23 had almost the same True2 scores despite Endings having about a 0.4 advantage in raw numbers. Notice how Cougar Town out-Trues Man Up! despite a similar 18-49 gap. Yes, some of that difference in the situations has to do with how much weaker their lead-ins (Modern Family and Last Man Standing) got late in the season, but a huge part of it is the fall effect.

However, I think most of the big changes in practical terms are due to changes in the lead-in calculation. Namely...

4) No More "The Gap"

Instead of making a lead-in adjustment based on how much a show rises or falls from its lead-in, it's now based entirely on the pure size of the lead-in. The relationship between show and lead-in is now basically meaningless. This change shows up in several different situations.

CBS Comedies

A18-49 TRUE True2 1 -> 2 Sitch1 Sitch2
The Big Bang Theory 4.97 6.54 5.04 -23% -24% -1%
Two and a Half Men 4.96 4.73 4.04 -15% +5% +23%
How I Met Your Mother 4.06 4.44 3.64 -18% -9% +12%
2 Broke Girls 4.25 4.15 3.50 -16% +2% +21%
Mike and Molly 3.72 3.08 2.95 -4% +21% +26%
Rob 3.30 3.01 2.77 -8% +10% +19%
Rules of Engagement 2.91 2.77 2.59 -6% +5% +12%
How to Be a Gentleman 0.88 0.81 0.99 +22% +8% -11%

a) Dropping from a huge lead-in. I include this because it's where it feels like a lead-in adjustment is supposed to make the biggest difference. This situation is ultimately not that much different from how it was in True1. Notice how shows like Mike and Molly, Rob and Rules seem to "hold up" in True2 a lot better than the other CBS comedies. These shows take a significant drop from their lead-ins (the True1 measurement), but they also have lead-ins that are significantly bigger than normal (the True2 measurement), meaning it's close to a wash.

b) Growing/maintaining a huge to medium lead-in. In the first edition, a show like Two and a Half Men that had a huge lead-in but built on it slightly was "protected" by the fact that it built slightly. Never mind the fact that it had a great lead-in funneling in. In this edition, those shows that do well with big lead-ins take a big hit. The two most obvious members of this club are the aforementioned Two and a Half Men and 2 Broke Girls, both of which end up a lot weaker. They went from an even "gap" (meaning very little adjustment) to having very strong-sized lead-ins (meaning a big negative adjustment).

NBC Comedies

A18-49 TRUE True2 1 -> 2 Sitch1 Sitch2
The Office 2.77 2.87 2.80 -2% -4% -1%
Parks and Recreation 1.84 1.84 1.91 +4% -0% -4%
Up All Night 1.86 1.82 1.85 +1% +2% +1%
30 Rock 1.54 1.70 1.81 +7% -10% -15%
Whitney 1.87 1.77 1.80 +2% +5% +4%
Community 1.54 1.84 1.77 -4% -17% -13%
Are You There, Chelsea? 1.48 1.49 1.67 +12% -0% -11%
Free Agents 1.35 1.12 1.17 +5% +21% +15%
Bent 0.83 0.80 1.15 +44% +4% -28%
Best Friends Forever 0.78 0.72 1.00 +38% +8% -22%

c) Dropping from a medium to small lead-in. Shows that drop from a much smaller lead-in, however, get a big benefit in True2. Shows like Cougar Town and Work It (see above) along with all these Wednesday bombs on NBC were shows that plunged from already weak lead-ins. They were previously scored based on the big lead-in drop; now they're scored with either a normal or a weak-sized lead-in. That's a huge shift in their lead-in adjustments.

CBS Dramas (Top Two Tiers)

A18-49 TRUE True2 1 -> 2 Sitch1 Sitch2
NCIS 3.75 4.17 3.54 -15% -10% +6%
Criminal Minds 3.39 3.37 3.23 -4% +1% +5%
Person of Interest 2.87 2.64 2.69 +2% +9% +7%
NCIS: Los Angeles 3.18 2.73 2.64 -3% +16% +20%
The Mentalist 2.61 2.53 2.40 -5% +3% +9%
Hawaii Five-0 2.86 2.69 2.37 -12% +6% +21%
CSI 2.72 2.56 2.35 -8% +6% +16%

d) The 8:00 effect.

Perhaps the biggest game-changer of all is what happens with 8:00 programs. It's not so much that the number I use for a local programming lead-in is all that different; 5.5% of the PUT is not usually that drastically different from the 1.81 constant used last year. The difference is (again) the change in how the lead-in adjustment is made. A show like NCIS would air after a 1.81 lead-in and build by two points or so, so it'd get a bonus third of a point just from that (one-sixth times +2.0). This time, since that same(ish) lead-in is treated as "normal," it doesn't get any adjustment at all. That's a big factor in why 8:00-airing NCIS drops off more in the True2 numbers than any of the other top CBS dramas.

It's also why shows like How I Met Your Mother and The Big Bang Theory drop at least as much in True2 as shows like Two and a Half Men and 2 Broke Girls which had big lead-ins. HIMYM and BBT went from a big positive gap (building huge from the 1.81) to a completely normal-sized lead-in; 2.5 and 2BG went from an even-ish gap to a very large-sized lead-in. Ultimately both those changes are pretty much the same thing in the True2 transition: squarely negative.

One last point of perspective: you'll notice those 8/7c shows still have considerably lower Sitch in True2 than the other comedies. NCIS does not really have an easier situation than the other CBS dramas. To reiterate one last time, what I've talked about in this post is just the change from True1 to True2. I'm not saying that this number makes the rich too poor or the poor too rich; rather, I think the rich were too rich and the poor were too poor last time, and this is merely correcting that problem. We'll see how I feel about all that at season's end, but the idea for now is that it's about where it should be!

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