With the rapid rise of delayed viewing, an increasing number of TV insiders are saying overnight ratings no longer matter. TheWrap.com reports that the cable channel FX last week started “what it hopes will be an industry trend. It declined to release ratings for ‘The Strain’ the day after it aired, waiting instead until three days had passed so it could include viewers who watched later.”
Previously, FX was doing what most networks do, sending out press releases as soon as possible that put an upbeat spin on its overnight ratings results, the piece notes. “But now FX would like everyone to take a breath, wait, and give people who didn’t watch a show on the first night a few days to catch up,” the story reports, adding: “Under FX’s new system, ratings obsessives will have to relax.
“So far, no broadcast networks seem likely to follow FX’s example in the near future, because even if they stopped sharing their numbers, a competitor could leak them to the press, probably without a positive spin.”
The report notes that FX is better-positioned than the broadcast nets to tweak tradition, as it doesn’t necessarily put up a full slate each night in prime time and doesn’t face the kind of direct nightly competition the broadcast networks have to endure.
“Even if they can’t stop sending them out, all networks agree that next-day numbers — called Live + Same Day in industry parlance — are of limited value,” the story notes. “They give a snapshot of a show’s performance out of a gate, but can’t account for show like FX’s ‘Sons of Anarchy’ … that greatly increase in audience after episodes initially air.”
Many networks are now touting, along with their Live + Same Day results, both Live + 3 Ratings and Live + 7, tracking viewer numbers over the span of a week.
Said Julie Piepenkotter, FX Networks executive VP of research, speaking at the TCA press tour over the weekend: “I don’t think there’s a research or programming or marketing or communication executive among us who hasn’t woken up to a Live + Same Day rating and been somewhat disappointed, only to be cheered five days later when the Nielsen tide brings in a Live + 3 and, in due course, a Live + 7 VOD and digital.”
The report adds: “Networks caution that Live + Same Day numbers are still essential for measuring the audiences of live contests — like singing competitions — and live sporting events. That’s because most viewers watch those events when they first air, for fear of missing out, or hearing who won the game on the way to work the next morning. An episode of ‘The Strain’ will keep for a few days. The All-Star Game will not.”