It's my stab at a stat that can evaluate a full series run, taking into account both the show's ratings production and its longevity. While most of my A18-49+ stuff so far has focused on putting individual seasons on a level playing field, the number should also be able to, say, compare the ratings value of a full show airing from 2003-2007 with that of a show airing from 2009-2013. In other words, it should be able to combine seasons together. And that's what "Career A18-49+" does, in pretty much the simplest way possible: A show's "Career A18-49+" = the sum of each individual season's A18-49+.
As with the original season-long A18-49+, the next step is to come up with a frame of reference. And we can't really do that without giving up some of the goods. Here are all of the scripted shows with Career A18-49+ of over 1,000 in the last decade:
|Two and a Half Men||1604||ongoing|
|Law and Order: SVU||1140||ongoing|
|The Big Bang Theory||1035||ongoing|
|How I Met Your Mother||1002||ongoing|
I want to make labels that provide context for this along the lines of the "megahit / big hit / hit / solid / marginal / flop" ones used in regular A18-49+. Where should the cutoff for the top tier (which I'm tentatively calling "icon") be? My thought is somewhere in the 1300 to 1500 range. This is probably not very high-integrity, but I would hate to make it 1500 if only because that would mean leaving Desperate Housewives out by a single point. Desperate Housewives feels pretty iconic to me; eight seasons isn't a stellar total length, but four of them were megahits and another two big hits. House is more of a borderline case with just two megahit seasons (neither of which were as big as the first two Housewives seasons). I'm inclined to lean on the side of making this a truly elite club and putting "icon" in the vicinity of 1400, if not higher.
But I'm going to leave the tier-making for a separate post. Right now I'm just going to lay out some concerns about this number in general. Perhaps someone will have an idea about how to improve upon some of these problems.
1. Missing info. This number is most useful for shows that premiered in 2003-04 or later, since there are no A18-49+ numbers from prior to that season. But the good news is that many of the older War of 18-49 shows can assuredly be put in whatever number is decided on as a "top tier" (like ER, The Simpsons, CSI, Law & Order, SVU, American Idol and Survivor), and there are only a few others that aren't quite as abundantly obvious.
2. Multiple-season, multiple night shows. There's the question of how to come up with one number for a show like Survivor, which airs multiple seasons within one year, or a show like American Idol, which airs on multiple different nights, or a show like Dancing with the Stars, which does both. My first instinct is just to average all the seasonal/nightly A18-49+ numbers from within one TV season.
3. Season lengths. Though it'd probably be a lot of extra work, it might be worthwhile to base this stat on the number of hours aired rather than the number of seasons. But this is perhaps more complicated than it might sound, because it might give a large edge to bloated reality shows that they don't particularly deserve because they never air in repeats.
4. Is longevity rewarded too much? In the baseball world, sabermatricians recoil at the notion of using some arbitrary number (like 3,000 hits or 300 wins) to decide whether a player belongs in the Hall of Fame. I don't mind the general idea, because I think a number like that does a decent job of combining longevity and production. But does it favor longevity too much? Generally speaking, getting to these thresholds is much more about playing for a long time than playing at an extraordinary rate. It's not like you can get there in five seasons.
To use a practical example, Cold Case, with a 619 career across seven seasons, was a more valuable show than Heroes, with 528 across four. If Fox were to cancel Glee after four seasons (which probably won't happen), it'd have a smaller number (551) than Cold Case as well. It doesn't seem "right" because we can all remember times when Heroes and Glee were tearing it up in the ratings, and Cold Case never tore it up. (In fact, it never even hit the league average in seven seasons.) We tend to think that "greatness" should be about great production, not a long period of good/decent production, because great production is more memorable.
So I guess the question on this front is: do we want a stat that tells us something we don't know, or do we want one that simply puts numbers to things we already know?
Anyway, this is all just a brief, rambling intro. Nothing is particularly set in stone yet, but I wanted to get something out there for those who might have stumbled upon this number on a War of 18-49 page.