Every year I put all of the shows that returned to "approximately" the same timeslot into a spreadsheet and try to look at some of what you can't really pick up on from just a cursory glance at the huge table. These posts seem to get shorter every year because those takeaways are so often the same. But that's probably a good thing! But here are a few quick thoughts on this year's numbers:
1. Fox Tuesday is officially the new Fox Sunday. Perhaps the biggest insight in these posts over the years, at least on an individual show basis, has been the consistent and drastic "overvaluing" of Fox's super-young skewing Sunday animated comedies. In other words, they get more dollars per L+SD 18-49 point than pretty much everything on TV. Since it happens every year, it's clearly not a "mistake" on the advertisers' part, but rather a lesson about how highly they value shows like The Simpsons and Family Guy. That lesson isn't all that valuable, though, since it's not like there are all that many people out there calling for the Sunday comedies' cancellation even based on the 18-49 numbers.
Last year, the cartoons had some company at the top in the form of the upcoming sophomore comedy New Girl, which nearly matched The Simpsons in overvalued-ness. But it wasn't entirely clear at the time how much of that was New Girl's advertiser-friendly audience and how much was ratings speculation. After all, the advertisers had seemingly granted a "sophomore bounce" in pricing to several other shows in the 2011-12 newbie class.
Now, it's pretty clear. It's hard to believe the advertisers could've seen potential for a huge uptick going into season three of New Girl, but it remains in the #2 $/A18-49 spot behind The Simpsons. And its similarly young-skewing lead-out The Mindy Project was right up there as well. Here's the top five:
|The Mindy Project||1.56||150950||96608||+75%|
*- The "diff" compares $A18-49 to the average price per 18-49 point among the 51 shows tracked.
Bottom line: this is probably not some huge miscalculation on the advertisers' part. We have to look at New Girl and Mindy as much more valuable shows than their ratings indicate. While Fox shows are highly-valued in general, these are on another level. And that's a big deal for something like Mindy. Of the 51 "approximately same-timeslot" shows examined here, Mindy is 42nd in A18-49 ratings. (And the list includes a bunch of Friday/CW shows!) But it's 16th in ad rates, beating a bunch of shows that averaged upper 2's in 18-49 last season.
2. CBS shows are among the most undervalued, and the CW isn't that far behind. Here are the bottom five in price per L+SD A18-49 point. Usually this list consists almost entirely of Friday/Saturday shows, but none of the Saturday stuff was included this time.
|The Amazing Race Fall||2.56||94150||36801||-33%|
|Law and Order: SVU||1.73||63970||37084||-33%|
The bottom three are CBS, while only one series on the network (The Big Bang Theory) goes above the 51-show average per 18-49 point. Acclaimed The Good Wife, which many would have you believe is some advertiser magnet, is still 14% below average (though it does get a slightly better $/A18-49 than most CBS dramas).
We could do some quibbling on a show-by-show basis. Both Criminal Minds and SVU seem too low to me, especially considering they're both relatively young-skewing by crime drama standards. But the broad stroke isn't all that surprising, as crime dramas generally skew very old. What might be a little more surprising is the CW's performance per 18-49 point, at least among its very limited sample.
|The Vampire Diaries||1.24||55100||44467||-20%|
|Hart of Dixie||0.55||26785||48700||-12%|
All these shows are a negative double digit percent below the 51-show average, which seems kind of alarming for a network that's supposed to be selling the 18-34 demo that seems so valued on big four shows. While the network's new direction seems promising from a ratings standpoint, they seem to have sacrificed a bit of advertiser-friendliness, as the "rich kid soaps" were typically $/A18-49 overachievers. Maybe the limited reach overall just brings them down a notch, as has been the case on cable over the years.
3. New show speculation: a return to sanity. It's worth noting again that these numbers come in before there are any fall 2013 ratings available, so the new show rates are pretty much entirely speculation-driven. But generally speaking, the trend with the advertisers has been that they get the broad strokes correct when it comes to speculating on new shows' ratings, though they tend to project that the flops won't flop quite as hard as they do. Last year, though, they did pretty awful. I'm still trying to figure out how The Mob Doctor was the #1 newbie ad rates draw. And Partners was #3, just dollars behind The Mindy Project!
This year, we're back to relatively normal. Nothing in the top five has completely bombed, with Hostages and Betrayal probably the only huge whiffs so far. The full list among stuff that's already premiered:
|The Crazy Ones||175200||2.9||3.1||+8%|
|Agents of SHIELD||169730||2.8||3.6||+32%|
|Super Fun Night||130823||2.1||2.9||+34%|
|The Michael J. Fox Show||110000||2.0||1.8||-8%|
|We Are Men||99520||1.6||1.9||+17%|
|Once Upon a Time in Wonderland||94694||1.5||1.7||+10%|
|Sean Saves the World||86900||1.4||1.2||-15%|
|Back in the Game||70734||1.2||2.0||+71%|
|Welcome to the Family||62370||1.0||1.0||-6%|
|The Tomorrow People||36745||0.6||0.9||+51%|
"Spec" is derived by comparing the price to the 51-returning show $/A18-49 average, and baking in a 10% year-to-year decline. A18-49 averages are through Sunday, October 13, and most will come down significantly by season's end... this is just a general picture. If your "diff" is sharply negative already, it's probably a safe bet that you're underachieving.
4. A couple quick notes on correlation and average price. The linear correlation between Live+SD A18-49 ratings and ad rates remains very strong. This year, among the 51 shows tracked, the correlation coefficient r = 0.91. While still quite good, this is down a bit from the last two years (r = 0.96 two years ago, r = 0.93 last year). If that slight weakening continues over the next year or two, it may be worth looking deeper, but for now it can probably reasonably be chalked up to coincidence/whatever happened to make it into the list of 51 shows. Not worth blowing up the blog over!
Also, the price per A18-49 point across 51 returning shows was $55,304, which was 3% higher than the calculation last year. That's a smaller increase than the usual reports of "upper single digit" CPM increases would suggest; again, it could just be some quirk in the particular selection of shows, or it could be an evening out from last year, when the $/A18-49 appeared to go up by more than the CPM reports. Anyway, this is a bit unsettling given the large -11% league average decline last year. That means the overall dollars are probably decreasing.