Thursday, March 21, 2013

The Climate, Week 25: Recapping the DSTruction

Daylight saving had an effect on TV ratings last week, just like at this time every year. You can freak out about every drop as if it's the first time this has ever happened, or you can just dismiss every drop as a DST thing.

But there's never really any application of a standard somewhere in the middle. I think my True2 number, which accounts for the overall viewing declines, gives me a somewhat unique opportunity to take a stab at that. So here's a rapid-fire look at some notable shows that had to deal with the viewing declines in the last week. Which daylight saving drops were exactly what True2 expected based on viewing estimates? Which drops went beyond the DST expectation? And which shows overachieved against DST?

Overachieved DST:

Survivor (2.6 -> 2.7): A season high in raw numbers against DST meant a runaway season high in True2, and another piece of encouraging news as the show continues to rally from its terrible start.

Parks and Recreation (1.4 -> 1.6): Growing by two ticks in the face of DST and a 1.1 lead-in was particularly impressive for Parks. True2 says this 1.6 was the third-best Parks performance of the season, trailing only the 1.9 from its move to 8:30 on January 17 and the 2.0 it pulled after Community's premiere on February 7.

American Idol (3.8 -> 3.8 on Wednesday, 3.6 -> 3.1 on Thursday): The Wednesday steadiness meant a considerable True2 bump, while the seemingly large Thursday drop was actually just two hundredths in True2. Actually a decent week for the show considering DST, and there haven't been many of those.

Once Upon a Time (2.2 -> 2.3/2.3)/Revenge (1.8 -> 2.0/1.8): Despite DST, Once Upon a Time and Revenge rallied a bit on March 3 (before the latter dropped back to 1.8 on March 10). These shows appear to be Truly stronger now than they were right at/after the end of event season, but still considerably weaker than in the fall.

Grimm (1.5 -> 1.4): It was a season low in raw numbers but it actually tied a True2 high this season (with the 2.0 it got after Mockingbird Lane). The viewing drop in the Friday 9/8c hour seemed particularly drastic, so the PUT estimate may have been a little off.


Whitney (1.3 -> 1.2): A post-DST 1.2 is, sadly, among the show's strongest True2 points (1.49) this season, though it's only about a tenth above average. This show held up very well post-DST last year as well for some reason. How much of a chance this show has is debatable, but holding at 1.2 or better for the last couple weeks wouldn't hurt.

Last Man Standing (1.5 -> 1.4): Normal to maybe a little better than that. Having posted around a 1.90 True2 in its last three outings, it is fast closing in on Suburgatory and The Neighbors on the Power Rankings.

The Big Bang Theory (5.5 -> 4.8): Actually a stronger True2 result than either of the last two episodes, which got 5.6 and 5.5 in raw numbers.

The Vampire Diaries (1.3 -> 1.1): A perfectly normal True2, and decidedly better than its 1.1/1.0 raw ratings from early February.

Malibu Country (1.3 -> 1.1): Normal. This show has had one good point (the 1.4 on March 1), one bad point (the pre-DST 1.1 on February 22) and otherwise it's been very steady True2-wise, with this one no exception. Unfortunately that still seems decidedly weaker than the other marginal ABC comedies.

Dropped beyond DST:

The Neighbors (1.7 -> 1.4): The True2 score was a bit worse than recent points, but not as much as the difference between 1.7 and 1.4 suggests. Probably not much of a game-changer.

Community (1.5 -> 1.1): The 1.1 was definitely Truly weaker than the 1.5 of the previous week... but still above the 1.1 and 1.2 in the weeks before that. Maybe that 1.5 was just an outlier. A 1.1 post-DST against Idol and Big Bang is still not that bad of a number on NBC, at least compared to the other "bubble" comedies.

Grey's Anatomy (3.1 -> 2.6): Not as bad as it might appear, but still not all a DST thing; it was near the True2 low end within this season. Wouldn't be surprised to see a bit of a rally when surrounded with originals again.

MONDAY: Monday is kind of murky because of all the competitive factors in play here with a The Bachelor finale and then a Dancing with the Stars premiere/The Biggest Loser finale. All I will say is that I highly doubt the stinkbomb of a night from CBS' comedy block can be totally attributed to DST, especially since overall viewing seemed relatively high this Monday. It probably has at least as much to do with DWTS being really bad competition for those shows, which was always the case during DWTS' peak years. 


Week Ending TPUT y2y bc y2y LeAv y2y
212/17/201333.2 -3% 6.6 -25% 2.00 -21%
222/24/201333.9 -3% 8.3 -9% 2.11 -11%
233/3/201332.6 -4% 6.4 -25% 1.97 -19%
243/10/201332.3 -3% 6.3 -15% 1.99 -9%
253/17/201331.1 -4% 6.1 -20% 1.90 -13%


Week Ending TPUTy2d y2dy2y bcy2d y2dy2y LAy2d y2dy2y
19/30/201232.4 -6% 9.2 -16% 2.50 -15%
510/28/201233.3 -3% 8.8 -10% 2.31 -13%
911/25/201233.5 -3% 8.8 -9% 2.26 -12%
1312/23/201233.4 -2% 8.5 -6% 2.24 -10%
171/20/201333.4 -3% 8.3 -8% 2.20 -10%
212/17/201333.6 -3% 8.3 -9% 2.19 -11%
222/24/201333.6 -3% 8.3 -9% 2.19 -11%
233/3/201333.6 -3% 8.2 -9% 2.18 -12%
243/10/201333.5 -3% 8.2 -10% 2.17 -12%
253/17/201333.4 -3% 8.1 -10% 2.16 -12%

To take a bigger-picture look at DST, the overall viewing was down about 4% week-to-week, while broadcast viewing was down about 3%. The estimated viewing drop appeared to be about the same in the 8:00 and 9:00 hour (around 6% in each hour), but that may have been because Sunday was included, and it was technically the second post-DST Sunday; viewing was up week-to-week at 8:00 on that night.

Broadcast viewing was down more drastically earlier in the night (-9% at 8:00, -8% at 8:30, -6% at 9:00 and -4% at 9:30), which is closer to how the DST effect is supposed to work, although those numbers are influenced to some degree by what's original and what's in repeats.

Click to expand for more on the "climate" numbers used herein.

TPUT - This is an ESTIMATED average of how many people are watching TV from 8:00 to 11:00.
  • I derive these numbers by adding up all the ratings and dividing by all the shares in each of the 42 half-hours each week. That means there is some error relative to the numbers Nielsen actually releases. Sadly we don't regularly have access to those. I always advise not to rely heavily on these numbers for any one show in any one week, but the hope is that the error is minimized across a 42-timeslot sample every week.
  • I include the Old Methodology adjustment, which makes the number more like a measurement of how many people watch primetime programming Live + SD, rather than a measurement of how many people watch any TV (including old DVR stuff) from 8:00 to 11:00. This makes the number perhaps less intuitive in a vacuum, but it's pretty much a wash when making week-to-week and year-to-year comparisons, which is what we're really interested in.
bc - This is an average of how many people are watching national broadcast TV from 8:00 to 11:00.
  • This does NOT include the 10:00 adjustment used in the True2 calculation which attempts to account for Fox/CW programming and stronger cable. Again, that perhaps hurts the number in a vacuum, because the 10:00 numbers being used only include three networks, so I'm averaging timeslots that are somewhat apples-to-oranges. But again, it's a wash when making comparisons because I treat it that way all the time. It would not really change week-to-week or year-to-year comparisons, and that's what I mostly care about.
  • Another important note here is that these numbers include the preliminary averages for "sustaining" programming like presidential debates and commercial-free benefit concerts whose numbers are typically omitted from traditional Nielsen averages. I might eventually omit these from this particular calculation, but they're needed on my spreadsheets to 1) make PUT calculations in those timeslots and 2) create a competition number for the entertainment shows that air against them.
LeAv - This is a measurement of how many people watch the average moment of original entertainment series programming on the big four networks. Meaning, no sports, no reruns, no specials, no movies, no sustaining programming included.

Note: Beginning with week 9, all numbers compare against the next numbered week in the 2011-12 season. So week 9 compares against week 10 of 2011-12, etc. This was done to make the comparisons more calendar-friendly. See here for more on that.

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