Monday, April 24, 2017

A18-49+ Labels vs. True Plus Labels

This is a quick follow-up on a point I made in the introduction of the Plus daily tables. Those tables contain True Plus numbers, and I advised against using the traditional Plus labels because True ratings have a much smaller standard deviation. (That is, because they're designed to be more "fair" across the entire season, they are much more bunched together.) Here's a quick stab at some alternative labels you can try using with True Plus ratings.

To get True Plus labels, I started with the traditional Plus labels. But instead of looking at them as ratings thresholds, I decided to define them as "percentiles"; in other words, how many shows make it over each A18-49+ label threshold? Even if you don't care about the True part of this, it might be neat to know what the Plus labels translate to, in terms of volume of shows. I limited this study to full season averages for big four series that premiere from September thru April (an attempt to weed out most of the summer series but still include stray episodes that air outside of the regular season).

Here's the breakdown by year:

YearMarginalSolidHitBig HitMegahit

These numbers are reasonably consistent over time, though there seems to be a bit fewer big hit/megahit nowadays (compared with the early aughts when the CBS and NBC Thursday lineups towered so far over everything else) and a bit more marginal/solid. I decided to go with the following percentiles (subtracting one minus each of the numbers above): A show on the border of marginal is a 35th percentile show, solid is a 65th percentile show, hit is an 80th percentile show, big hit is a 90th percentile show, and megahit is a 97th percentile show.

The next step is to apply those percentiles to the more closely bunched landscape of True Plus ratings. What is the True Plus rating that corresponds with each of those percentiles? Here's where those percentiles fall in each of the three years for which I have numbers for the current version of True:

YearMarginalSolidHitBig HitMegahit

As I said in the Plus daily table post a few weeks ago, all these labels are indeed closer to 100 than their raw number counterparts. Because I'm neurotically inclined toward multiples of five, I would go with something like:

Marginal: 80 (vs. 70 in raw)
Solid: 100 (vs. 100 in raw)
Hit: 115 (vs. 125 in raw)
Big Hit: 135 (vs. 150 in raw)
Megahit: 175 (vs. 200 in raw)

Now, there are a couple approaches for this whole idea. Either just roll with these separate labels for True ratings, or manipulate the formula itself to try to put the "league standard deviation" more in line with how it is for raw numbers (in much the same way I strive to have a True league average that is pretty close to the raw numbers league average). That way, the 70/100/125/150/200 labels we've all been using for years could apply to True as well.

In theory, the latter approach is probably better, but is not something that would be incorporated till the next version of True. So for the next four-plus months, while still using this year's version, I thought I'd throw out those labels as an informal guide that might help with using True Plus. Hopefully it helps illustrate that a lot of the shows that seem to be much bigger or smaller in True+ are not really gaining/losing as much ground as it might seem if the two metrics had similar distributions.

Finally, the Sub-Demos Plus charts in the SpotVault have a few new additions:

New to the charts are adults 25-54 ratings, True, and Live + 3 (adults 18-49) ratings. And these demos' respective league averages have been added to the Climate Center. I believe as of this post going up, the new versions are only available on Thursday/Friday/Saturday/Sunday pages, but within a few days should be on all currently airing shows. Some shows that have already finished their seasons may not ever see these charts, because I've removed them from the updater to increase speed. But maybe sometime over the summer I will do one big table with all of these for each show.

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