Fox has become the first broadcast network to officially drop Live+same day Nielsen ratings as currency. The network’s chairmen/CEOs Dana Walden and Gary Newman announced the change in an internal memo. “Looking ahead, we’re going to stop circulating the Nielsen Live + Same Day ratings, both internally and to press,” they wrote. “We will not acknowledge them for any programming other than live events.”
With larger and larger portion of TV viewing happening beyond series’ original telecasts — via DVR or on-demand — cable networks one by one have stopped reporting Live+same day ratings, opting for Live+3s instead. Fox’s sibling FX actually was the first cable network to officially abandon Live+Same Day ratings reporting in summer 2014.
Led by Fox, all broadcast networks have adopted ratings projections and have been using Live+3, Live+7 and multi-platform data, along with Live+SD numbers, for their ratings reports. (Fox is known for its morning email that features quick analysis of the fast-national ratings performance of all broadcast shows the night before.)
Walden and Newman hope to “change the conversation,” noting that Fox does not monetize its content based on L+SD ratings but on C7 as well as on digital platforms and through TrueX sponsorships. The network had been aggressive this fall, touting the reach of young-skewing shows like Scream Queens beyond their modest Live+same day ratings performance. Here is Walden and Newman’s memo:
We are making a significant change to the way we communicate the performance of our shows. Beginning Monday, you will no longer receive Live + Same Day Nielsen ratings. No “fast nationals,” no “overnights,” “no prelims.” There will no longer be THAT email in your inbox every morning at 8AM, because THAT email is no longer relevant.
The connections between viewers and our shows today are more complex and, in many ways, deeper than ever – but they no longer only happen overnight. So why do we, as an industry, wake up every morning and talk about those Live + Same Day numbers?
This has to stop. It’s time for us to “walk the walk” and change the conversation. The Live + Same Day rating does not reflect the way people are watching our series. It leaves out the vast majority of fans who choose to watch on DVRs, and virtually ignores those who stream our shows or watch on demand. And those viewers matter: Within a 7-day period, more than one-third of the broadcast 18-49 audience watches after the same-day window. Over 30 days, seven of our FOX series either double or more than double their same-day audience across platforms. And if you compare our total multiplatform audience this season versus last, we are up +14%.
The same-day numbers also do not reflect how we monetize our content. Half of our TV ad inventory is sold on a C7 basis, and we monetize our content on digital platforms like FOX NOW and Hulu, and through TrueX sponsorships – none of which are included in Nielsen’s fast nationals.
Every day, our creators, and their casts and crews, put their hearts and souls into making their shows as original and unforgettable as possible. And these creators deserve to work at a company that has a contemporary understanding of who their audience is and how their shows are watched.
Looking ahead, we’re going to stop circulating the Nielsen Live + Same Day ratings, both internally and to press. We will not acknowledge them for any programming other than live events. We know that the daily external dialogue isn’t going to change right away, but internally, we can kick things off by shifting our own mindsets toward a more holistic measure. Will Somers will follow up shortly to lay out what you can expect from the research team moving forward.
FOX is a company that has always prided itself on being forward-thinking…and nothing could be more antiquated than a decades-old measurement that reflects only a portion of our audience.
So together, let’s move the ratings conversation into the future. Here we go!
Gary and Dana