Thursday, April 25, 2013

The Climate, Weeks 28/29/30: Late-Season Bullet Points


I've gotten a little behind on these posts, so I'm just emptying the notebook with a few general observations that aren't really full column length and don't fit that well into all of the upfront previews going down soon.
  • A hitless season? The question was asked in the Tuesday daily thread: were there any new hits this season? Most people have a more liberal definition of the word "hit" than A18-49+ does. But from an A18-49+ perspective it looks increasingly likely the answer may be "no" for the first time in the A18-49+ era. (Unless you count Arrow, a clear "hit for CW.") Two shows still have a somewhat realistic shot:
    • The Following, currently at a 123, will need an upper-2's to 3.0 finale and then have to hope the league average drops another couple hundredths to eke out a 125 A18-49+. 
    • Revolution is still a hit at 134, but its average continues to plummet weekly. It'll need to average at least a 2.2 over the last seven hours to hold onto a 125+, and it dropped to a 2.0 this week. It's not impossible, because it was getting 2.2 in the previous weeks and it'll have a few weeks at the end of the season with the drama competition gone. But it's hard to bet on this show right now.
  • The fall of Idol. It feels like American Idol got more press for the one week it didn't drop than it did across the entirety of its near-50% post-premiere collapse. But make no mistake, this season has still seen the biggest in-season drops in the history of the show. And while Idol may have "stabilized," it's at a level that's still down around 30% year-to-year on Wednesday and 25% on Thursday. A couple weeks ago, its performance night edition lost control of the "megahit" label in A18-49+, certainly the first time since season one that has happened. It's not impossible that by the time all the numbers are in, the performance night may well have lost half of its Live+SD audience in just two years!
  • ...and the rise of The Voice. The collapse of American Idol was key to broadcast primetime posting the worst spring in recent memory last season. Even though Idol is collapsing yet again, this spring appears headed in the other direction, with the league average down just 3% year-to-year in three of the four weeks since The Voice returned. 
    • It now looks fairly likely the year-to-date league average could perk back up to -10% as early as next week. Part of that is the late start of The Voice allowing NBC to grow significantly in those timeslots. 
    • As mentioned in the True Top 25, the last couple weeks have finally allowed us to say (comparing corresponding weeks, not calendar weeks) that The Voice is beating American Idol. Barring a season two-esque collapse down the stretch of The Voice's season, it should end up ahead of Idol in season average, too.
    • The Voice's strong return has also put NBC back into contention to finish in third place in original series-only average. The network A18-49+'s were ABC 94.0, NBC 89.6 in the week before The Voice's return. Four weeks later, the gap has been cut in more than half (ABC 93.4 to NBC 91.3), though ABC sat out many of its heavy hitters for much of this stretch. Could be a photo finish.
    • NBC may also have a shot at second place in overall L+SD average. They trail Fox by less than a tenth of a rating point right now. But NBC's going to have to pick it up, because they're not even beating Fox in recent weeks, much less making up ground. It was the football-fueled weeks early in the season that made it as close as it is.
  • Bad promotion? Another recurring theme that has contributed to the healthier spring this season: many a show has premiered shockingly low, then held up (or in many cases grown) shockingly well in the post-premiere weeks. Nearly half of all series (62) have posted a number better than the season premiere, while well over half (76) have at least tied the premiere in a post-premiere episode.  It makes me wonder if there is some fundamental promotional issue that's causing a sizable subset of people to not know these shows are back at first. This has continued into the spring seasons with:
    • The Voice, which has already done better-than-premiere numbers three times on each night.
    • Survivor, down a disastrous 23% year-to-year on premiere night but having closed that gap by at least half since. The last nine weeks have all done better than the premiere.
    • And Celebrity Apprentice, which appeared done when it was down 35% for the premiere but has closed that to -17% for the season-to-date. It's had three points better than the premiere number, whereas last season nothing came within two tenths of the premiere.
    • Add these to all the examples of oddly weak premieres from the fall that eventually "evened out" to some degree: Hawaii Five-0, Undercover Boss and Kitchen Nightmares immediately spring to mind. And that's not to mention all the shows that caught fire, but not until well into the season: The Big Bang Theory, Scandal, Shark Tank, Chicago Fire.


Week-by-week:

Week Ending TPUT y2y bc y2y LeAv y2y
263/24/201332.6 +1% 6.6 -14% 1.95 -10%
273/31/201332.1 -2% 6.9 -15% 2.04 -3%
284/7/201332.0 +1% 7.4 -2% 2.02 -3%
294/14/201332.0 -2% 6.9 -8% 1.97 -8%
304/21/201332.3 -0% 6.6 -6% 1.99 -3%

Season-to-date:

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%
253/17/201333.4 -3% 8.1 -10% 2.16 -12%
263/24/201333.4 -3% 8.0 -10% 2.15 -12%
273/31/201333.4 -3% 8.0 -10% 2.15 -11%
284/7/201333.3 -3% 7.9 -10% 2.14 -11%
294/14/201333.3 -3% 7.9 -10% 2.13 -11%
304/21/201333.2 -2% 7.9 -10% 2.13 -11%



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.

4 comments:

Spot said...

I'd imagine Scandal will end up with a 'solid' label; right, Spot? It's 2.40 average is heavily deflated due to the show's weak fall performance.

Spot said...

Yeah you are probably right. That fall season just feels so far away for me.

Spot said...

Yes. It's at 113 right now. Only the 2013 episodes would get there, though (126).

Spot said...

I wonder if this will be a trend next year. Looking at Big Bang Theory's Vault, I see that it isn't unusual for it to peak mid-season. For other shows, I would chalk it up to increased DVR usage. In January and September, mine is full of shows that I want to sample. It usually takes me a week to go through them all, so even if I were a Nielsen household, I wouldn't be caught in the overnights for most shows or the C+3 for a few others. (By the way, we haven't seen any of those for a LONG while)

Then there's word of mouth. Reviews are casually displayed on Twitter and Facebook now. Hundreds, if not thousands of people give their opinion when a new show debuts, and let's not forget that only 25,000 households are measured by Nielsen. How many extra viewers would it take to have an effect of 126,500 18-49 demo viewers (or .1 ratings point) on a show? 1? 3? 10? I don't know, but I bet Nielsen Media Research does and I bet this is part of the reason they are considering adding online viewing and social media buzz to their algorithm. I believe that the constant chatter about Scandal's "Who shot the President?" storyline helped it move to that next level from "yet another middling show behind Grey's" to "I wonder if this is the week it'll beat Grey's". Grey's has since settled a couple tenths above it, but still 20% growth is nothing to sneeze at.

Personally, I hope you do a Climate post for the summer, mostly because there actually is one for all the networks. Sure it's the same collection of reality, Canadian imports and reruns...but there's MORE of them!

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