“If you were a sports reporter, you would not report the winner based on the third-inning score – that’s what you’re doing if you use Live + Same Day ratings,” CBS Research guru David Poltrack chastised Reporters Who Cover Television this morning. He was one of four number crunchers who ran the reporters through a “bar chart gauntlet” at Summer TV Press Tour 2014, by way of trying to convince them not to report on next day ratings for their networks’ programs. They came to preach the value of using Live + 3 stats at the very least, in light of how popular delayed viewing has become – particularly of scripted primetime series, with drama series leading the way.
“We all provide projections [for Live + 3 Day]. We understand your skepticism about using our projections,” Poltrack said. “The one thing you can be sure about our projections is that if one of us starts giving you a lot of bullshit, the other ones are going to let you know. You’ve got us to check each other,” he said.
Among the mind-numbing array of charts used in this morning’s pitch was one showing that, among the major broadcast networks, the demo ratings growth from Live + Same Day to Live + 7 averaged 40%. “What’s interesting is how long the tail has become,” Fox Research SVP Will Somers said. He displayed the numbers for his network’s fall-launch drama Sleepy Hollow, showing an overnight audience of 10.1 million viewers that grew by another 5.2 million when seven-day DVR viewing was added to the pot. And that number still is growing. “There are still people watching the first episode” this summer, he marveled.
Another graphic looked at Fox’s 24 franchise. This summer’s season opened with 8.1 million Live + Same Day viewers but grew to 12.4 million viewers with delayed viewing factored in, making it “one of the highest rated premieres of the show over the course of its nine seasons so far,” Somers said.
FX recently announced it no longer would issue Live + Same Day stats for its programs the morning after premiere telecasts. “We think five days for Live+3 is worth the wait to more accurately report the story,” the network’s EVP Research Julie Piepenkotter told reporters, while acknowledging that excepted reporting on viewing levels for sports, news, and live events. Before the gauntlet began, that network’s spokesman pointed out that many press reports put Fargo’s audience at 2 million viewers, based on Live + Same Day stats when, more accurately, the show averaged nearly 7 million viewers.
Poltrack began the session by noting that, historically, people would respond that they were watching less TV than the year before in surveys – though Nielsen results proved otherwise. Three years ago, he said, CBS began to see that trend reverse itself and recent surveys show just 17% of people say they’re watching less TV. “Now people take pride they watch television. This is the Golden Era of TV content,” he said.