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PsychoPere October 13 2010 04:43 PM

Networks & Viewership Figures

Kurt Sutter wrote:
dear DVR users. gotta watch SOA before tuesday if you want your viewership to count for episode 301. pass it on...

Kurt Sutter on Twitter. Sutter is the creator of FX's Sons of Anarchy.


Shawn Ryan wrote:
Can I ask the obvious question why it takes 3 weeks to get the DVR numbers of how many people watched within 7 days of ep airing?

Shawn Ryan on Twitter. Ryan was the creator of FX's The Shield, is co-creator of FX's Terriers, and is showrunner of FOX's Lie to Me. He was also co-creator of CBS's The Unit and has a show on FOX at mid-season called Ride-Along.

We all know the reality of television these days. A new show has to premiere big and sustain same-day audience numbers in order to have a fighting chance at staying on the air. This fall season's first show on the chopping block was FOX's Lone Star. It premiered to 4 million viewers, then fell sharply to a little over 3 million the next week, resulting in swift cancellation. As shown by Jax's TV Ratings threads, we all worry about the ratings for our favorite shows because we don't want to lose them. But at the same time, many of us aren't able to watch all of our favorite shows at the exact time they air - and very few, if any, of us even have a Nielsen box in the first place for us to be counted as viewers. Many of us record shows on our DVRs to watch later. Many of us catch the shows later on the network's website or on Hulu. It seems quite obvious to all of us on the forefront of the new technologies that DVR and online viewership should count, that the Nielsen ratings are no longer necessarily in touch with how many viewers a show really has.

It's a natural cause of concern for us regarding our favorite shows, this feeling that the network rating system is far behind the times. Fortunately, some changes are coming, because the networks definitely do agree with us, regardless of how it often seems from our outside perspective that the networks are clueless.


Starting this spring, Nielsen will (after significant pressure from the networks) take a big step forward. In addition to counting what its sample households watch on TV, the ratings giant will start to measure what those homes view online. Most networks will get this “extended screen data” as a separate report, unless they agree to run the same load of commercials online as on-air.
The article is also a good look at how the ratings system currently works and the second page shows four case examples of how viewer numbers can increase when considering DVR and online data.

(Is it possible for a mod to fix "viewship" to "viewership" in the thread title?)

Temis the Vorta October 14 2010 03:52 AM

Re: Networks & Viewership Figures
I DVR everything on the machine that Comcast gave me. Does this mean what I watch actually counts? :eek:

If so, I'll try to watch SoA sooner rather than later. Good season, shaping up well. I got a bit distracted by a cool NatGeo doc about that crazy crystal cave in Mexico and haven't gotten around to it till now.

PsychoPere October 14 2010 04:11 AM

Re: Networks & Viewership Figures
It does! Sort of. Ad rates, as the article says, are based on three days viewership counts -- the day the show airs, plus the next two days. But Nielsen's 3-week delayed report actually tracks air date plus seven more days. The networks are fighting to make the longer period more relevant, but at this very moment we can all help our favorite shows somewhat by watching episodes within two days after they air if DVR'd. Don't forget to look at those numbers on the second page; the jumps for Fringe and Mad Men, when considering DVR, VOD, and online options, are definitely figures Nielsen and advertisers shouldn't be ignoring.

Temis the Vorta October 17 2010 09:30 PM

Re: Networks & Viewership Figures
With SoA, it's easy. I'm motivated to watch it right away. Ditto for Dexter, but I suppose since they've already got my money, it doesn't matter so much when I watch. Other shows like Chuck, No Ordinary Family and The Event, which are starting to lose my interest, end up piling up in my DVR. So things are getting even tougher for TV shows - they not only have to clear the "watchability" hurdle, they have to clear the "motivation to watch quickly" hurdle, which is a far tougher standard to meet.

I'm really enjoying Clone Wars on DVD but I'm letting S3 pile up since S2 isn't out on DVD for another week and a half. They should really try to get a season out on DVD before the next one starts airing, for exactly that reason. It'll probably be December before I'm ready to watch S3 and by then my viewing will have no value.

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