Friday, October 4, 2013

The Climate: Premiere Week 2013 Highlights


Running on fumes at the end of the week, but I really wanted to get a quickie intro to The Climate out there and run through a couple "big picture" premiere week highlights. This will basically be the same kind of post as I put out last year, though I will be modifying this somewhat in the coming weeks.

Premiere Week:

Week Ending TPUT y2y bc y2y LeAv y2y
19/29/201331.8 -2% 9.1 -1% 2.49 -0%

So the big picture headliner from premiere week had to be that the "league average" (that is, the average of non-sports original series on the big four networks) was essentially unchanged from year-to-year, down from 2.50 in premiere week 2012 to 2.49 this year. In the "modern" era of roughly 9% declines per season, that is very healthy on the surface.

The one thing I have noticed historically is that the strength of the new show class tends to correlate with the fluctuations around that -9% average. In other words, the seasons that went less than -9% had good new classes. That was certainly in play for the 2013 premiere week, when the new shows as a whole actually went above the league average. I don't have the "new show average" in every single A18-49+ season yet, but the 103 average for scripted newbies was much higher than in previous premiere weeks: 2010-11 (84), 2011-12 (93) and 2012-13 (89). (The very good class of 2011-12 gets nicked in this comparison because so many of its strong newbies didn't premiere till after the premiere week.) It even edged out the Modern Family/Cougar Town/Glee/NCIS: LA/The Cleveland Show-fueled 2009-10 premiere week (100).

While the new shows were promising any way you slice it, it is worth pointing out that the networks scheduled the premiere week much more aggressively than last year. There were a lot of double-premieres of the biggest shows, and quite a few of those premieres have turned out to be "hide the weenie" situations as duds like We Are Men and Ironside have filled out the sked. I tried very simplistically to plug some terrible numbers into the other half of some of these double-premieres, and that took the year-to-year trend down two to three points. So the "hide the weenies" were not exactly the difference between an even year and a normal -9% year, but they did play a part.

A few other quick points:
  • Will Sunday become the weakest weeknight for entertainment programming in A18-49+ era history? It seems pretty likely that it will. It averaged a horrifying 82 in premiere week. I expect that to come up if only because Sunday didn't have the same kind of inflationary scheduling as some other nights, and it won't drop as much post-premiere as some other nights (ahem, ABC Tuesday). But the number to beat is Sunday in 2003-04 (95), and this year's Sunday could easily struggle to get that high.
  • The network breakdown through one week: NBC 117, ABC 98, CBS 96, Fox 88. 
    • For comparison, premiere week 2012: ABC 103, Fox 103, CBS 100, NBC 95. 
    • And the 2012-13 final rankings: CBS 109, Fox 106, ABC 93, NBC 93.
    • I haven't looked at this in detail but my guess is that historically ABC and NBC are usually pretty inflated in the premiere week, while CBS is more of a "when the dust settles" network in general and Fox has American Idol in the second half.
  • Will the outliers get even more outlier-y? As I noted on the premiere Tuesday thread, there's a good chance that the Agents of SHIELD premiere could become the second-biggest scripted series premiere in A18-49+, and certainly the biggest that was a "self-starter." The other two through-the-roof numbers were a Two and a Half Men-boosted 2 Broke Girls (300) and a football-fueled Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles (235). Combine SHIELD with the unbelievably high-rated finale of Breaking Bad and I think you have something of a lesson about one of the perils of using A18-49+. This number is built on an incremental decline in Live+SD viewership tendencies, but it's not like those viewers have disappeared or died. They still exist, they're just usually watching TV differently. And if you can create some kind of compelling cultural desire to watch live (the way sports does), you can get people to rewrite the viewing rulebook, leading to larger percent boosts than what we're used to seeing. Just something to keep in mind. I'm not saying it invalidates the number or anything, because that kind of thing is very tough to sustain beyond a very limited time-frame; SHIELD learned that the hard way in week two.


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. This is the number around which this site's A18-49+ number is calculated.

17 comments:

Spot said...

I subscribe this question. Other than that, I think we are in for a good year, especially due to new shows. But it will still be down.

Spot said...

I say that we go -1 or -2% for the year. Remember that all summer I was saying that this will be a very strong year. I believe that last year was such a large drop because it was the final big drop before a leveling off point.

Spot said...

Do you think the fanbase was mostly aware that this was the backdoor pilot? Because there have been some other situations where pilot previews were repeated months later, and then the first totally new episode actually grew a lot the next week. I'm thinking of Glee and that ABC Family show Twisted from earlier this year.

Spot said...

Ultimately, assuming it does turn out this way in finals, I'm just glad I overestimated everything else (esp. The Originals) as much as I overestimated The Millers.

Spot said...

Whereas I overestimated the rest by more. I thought the NBC sitcoms would combine for over 3.0. Oops.

Spot said...

A day of disappointments if you are not ABC!
I'm pretty surprised by the low ratings of CW vampire night.
NBC's new comedies simply do not work. CBS' may work but it must be seen after some weeks.
Glee's falling, I believe, faster than expected.

Spot said...

If I'm NBC, I'm this close to giving up on Must Not See TV Thursdays, especially now that CBS has thrown in its chips. Why keep trying to throw more comedies after low-rated comedies?

Spot said...

The CW should become an online channel. NBC & ABC should re-merge.

Spot said...

What you thing will happen to Supernatural in it's new spot?

Spot said...

For the most part, yes. I think as the pilot went on, a sense of familiarity crept in and led to the ratings drop from the fanbase. Big sections of the second and third acts made the episode feel like a clip show. But given that The Originals upticked to a 1.0, I'd give the timeslot premiere slightly better odds to grow episode-to-episode than I originally thought with the fast nationals.

Spot said...

I say minus 7 to 10% because of increased DVR use, despite the freshmen shows being on par with 2011-2012.

Spot said...

I actually think that is sort of "cheating". I know that the only way the league average is meaningful is if we include original programming only but in doing so ABC will look better even if Scandal repeats perform considerably worse than Lucky 7 originals. I don't think it will be the case though since Lucky 7 was already at 0.7, but still, the point stands.

Spot said...

I agree, it has to be over. I think trying comedies tuesdays at 8 and putting TBL on Thursdays is a better option at this point.

Spot said...

I think it will be down a bit from last year because the synergies with the originals are not as obvious as they were with arrow and because facing the voice is tougher than facing MF, but it should still do a pretty competent job.

Spot said...

I love Parks and Recreation, this show won't be canceled because we love it.

Spot said...

Supernatural's move to Tuesday may, in the end, be a near wash. Facing The Voice is going to hurt as well as having a slightly weaker lead-in with The Originals in the Fall. But if NBC sticks to its announced plan to move the spring edition of The Voice up to 8:00, then the slot becomes noticeably easier since I don't think New Girl's post-Super Bowl bounce will be as potent as Grey's Anatomy's was in 2006. And I think Supernatural will be stronger in the Spring as the Big 4 sprinkle in more repeats. I wouldn't be surprised if in 2014-2015 we see the 10th season of Supernatural paired with its Chicago-based spinoff on Monday nights.

Spot said...

I'll take 10%. Some of the returning shows had startling drops, and some of the new shows did as well. The only shows that should be well up are Scandal and Bang...and I guess some hit lead-in dependent shows like Chicago Fire.

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