Networks Rethink the Ratings Game As DVR Usage Spreads ~ Fringe Television - Fan Site for the FOX TV Series Fringe

Networks Rethink the Ratings Game As DVR Usage Spreads

      Email Post       10/20/2011 10:38:00 PM      

Networks Rethink the Ratings Game As DVR Usage Spreads
 Oct 20, 2011 09:23 AM ET
 by Michael Schneider

What a difference seven days makes. Many primetime shows are seeing their ratings skyrocket when a week's worth of DVR usage is included — and network execs are scrambling to figure out how to adjust to a time-shifting world.

Now that DVR penetration has reached around 42% of viewers, it's having a real impact on viewership — and making the initial next-day ratings that everyone reports (which includes live viewing, plus only that night's DVR usage) increasingly irrelevant.

For example, when season four of FX's Sons of Anarchy debuted September 6, it attracted 4.9 million viewers, a good number, but not a network record. By the time seven days of DVR usage was counted, that number had climbed to 6.5 million viewers — making it the most-watched program in FX history.

 "The numbers are so far apart that it's not even funny," says FX president John Landgraf.

The fact that nearly half of all TV viewers now own a DVR is making some of TV's top-rated shows even more top-rated when all is said and done. ABC's Modern Family leads the DVR pack, enjoying massive audience boosts once the final time-shifted ratings are in. Thanks to DVRs, the comedy's second episode, which initially aired September 28, eventually added a staggering 4.5 million more viewers to its total.

Where the live-plus-seven ratings have the most impact so far is making a mess of network bragging rights. In the adults 18-49 demographic, NBC's Sunday Night Football was originally the No. 1 show for the week ending October 2, posting a 7.7 rating. But once the DVR numbers came in, Sunday Night Football was virtually unchanged (up 1 percent to 7.8), while CBS' Two and a Half Men (8.9, up 20 percent from 7.4) and ABC's Modern Family (7.9, up 39 percent from 5.7) leapt in front.

 In another example, CBS' Two Broke Girls was the top-rated new sitcom among adults 18-49 prior to the latest DVR data — but now that more extensive live-plus-seven numbers have come in, Fox's New Girl was the bigger beneficiary. As a result, both shows are tied for first.

 "Part of the problem is when you report live-plus-same-day and single airing ratings, you convey the impression that the scale of a show is 'x' when in reality the scale of that show is 'y,'" Landgraf says.

 Meanwhile, the DVR revolution is also giving hope to lower-rated shows, as their so-so numbers wind up looking a lot better once time-shifting is included. ABC's Grey's Anatomy averaged a rather disappointing 3.6 rating among adults 18-49 in week two of the fall TV season. But the show got a hefty 41.7% boost thanks to seven days of DVR usage, bringing its final rating up to a much stronger 5.1.

Read the entire article here.


cortexifan said...

thanks for posting this. So with this there may be hope for another season of Fringe, yes?

seedoubleyou said...

I hope the folks at Fox are reading this, too. I think a show like Fringe must have a huge hidden audience watching it in ways other than live-on-air. As my roommates are all rather squeamish, I've watched the last two seasons of Fringe on Hulu, the Saturday morning after it airs. This season, with Fox delaying the internet access of the show for eight days, I've resorted to some download sites --ugh!-- or DVRing the show and trying to see it at some point in the week when the TV is free. It's time for television executives to start remembering what century they live in and realize that the more access --yes, LEGAL access-- they give to their shows, the more we all will watch them.

Zort70 said...

A similar thing is happening in the UK.

Doctor Who, the biggest SciFi show on UK TV at the moment, has been blasted in the press because of supposed falling ratings.

However someone created a chart of ratings + DVR + online catchup and the ratings have actually been growing, and DW is the most watched show on the online catchup service iPlayer.

TV networks need to understand their audience are changing and keep up with the newer mediums, after all it is they that created most of these newer ways of watching !

Gloria said...

If possible, leave your television ON whether you can actually watch FRINGE live. The show will cycle through as "watched live" whether you were perched in front of the tv or not.
I am never home on Friday nights so I DVR FRINGE and SANCTUARY ... leave the tv on the Fox channel in the living room and SyFy in the bedroom.
As a grownup (kindof) they have replaced Saturday morning cartoons for me. HEY! I used to live for Saturday mornings!!!

Anonymous said...

@ Gloria

Unfortunately, that's not exactly how it works. First of all, only Nielsen families are counted. If you do not own a Nielsen box, then your viewings are not counted. Secondly, a prompt comes up during certain timed increments, at which point the viewer needs to click a button on their Neilsen remote to confirm that they are in fact watching the show and not just leaving their TV on. If they don't respond, the box doesn't record the television as watching the show live. It's important for Nielsen families to actually watch the show live. Non-Neilsen families don't matter as they don't effect the ratings at all. I wish I was a Nielsen family, but unfortuantely I'm not. Maybe that's a good thing, though- what I watch is private.

Gloria said...

I have heard that many, many times and believe you are correct... so, why urge viewers to watch tv live unless they are the hand-picked Nielsen households. (Which I think --the Nielsen system-- is totally antiquated and ridiculous.)

So, basically the only way the majority of Fringe watchers are going to count is by DVRing the show and watching it within the 24 hour window.

Almost too complicated to deal with! LOL

Roberto said...

I'm no expert at this game, but if I was paying handsomely for national ads, I'd want to be sure folks actually might be watching them, not 4X blasting through the commercials. Ad meisters can do things like having a key screenshot of the product linger a while to show up on fast forward. Of course, even on live viewing, people will run to the kitchen or restroom. There's no controlling that. But it's assumed some won't or they will at least catch 10-15 seconds at the beginning or end of the spot. I wouldn't want to spend more than 10-15% for fast forward eyeballs. In this way FRINGE becomes a victim of it's own well crafted design. With such a layered substory, labyrinthian plot twists, hidden Easter eggs, sneaky Observers, semi-subliminal flashes, and intricate performances, it is more likely to be DVR'd than a competing program. Maybe even watched twice. But does it matter? In the end, it's all about selling soap, not who's just watching the show. Thank you Capitalism.

Phil said...

I'm pretty sure that only the 25,000 households with a Nielsen box are counted for the DVR ratings, AND I don't think they can tell what is being watched on DVR, they just assume that the recorded shows are watched within the week.

Nielsen Ratings are outdated and a new rating system needs to be developed.

Anonymous said...

Fringe is the most intelligent show on TV. I watch it live and DVR it to pick up on the clues and nuances I missed while watching it live. The recaps on the fan website put it all together! Sure hope Fox is listening and keeps Fringe going for many more seasons.

geoffrobinson said...

Make sure you watch the commercials and don't skip over them when you watch the DVR. Advertisers don't care if you watch the show. They care if you watch the ads.

Preferably during the first 24 hours. As the article states, the first 3 days is good too.

Otherwise, try Hulu or They need to be able to count the eyeballs.

cortexifan said...

Live + 7 days for week 3: Alone in the world
went from a 1.3 to 2.1

Keep watching live!!!!

Anonymous said...

Here's a story in Variety on the subject and Fringe/Anna Torv is the featured photo:

Kim said...

It's actually great to watch it on your DVR and watch it again. If you have on demand you can do that to. I have on demand (since I have cable internet) but I also have DirecTV and DVR the show and make sure to play it back, even if I've watched it live.

Anonymous said...

DVR wow how 2007 of you guys....People are on the go and do whats called banking/stacking programs in order to get more enjoyment out of thier tv shows.
DVR's, Tivo and other services are ok but just something else to have to pay for in this money
challenged enviroment...the solution is download via free internet media and the always buy the seasons bluray and skip the midseason break, the never ending product placemnet advertising and stupid program interruptions that many networks enjoy doing for some sporting event or awarness raising event that only raise's my anger.
FOX sports why is it screwing up Fringe on the plan FOX tv channel as an example!?
One good thing is many channels have a catch up replay of their show a few days later and thats great for the shift worker.
Just my on the FRINGE view JT from Gulf Breeze out!

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