A New Way to Evaluate TV Repeats

Jun 26, 2006  •  Post A Comment

Audience measurements over the years have pointed to some patterns in program performance by genre: Sitcoms often hold up pretty well when repeated, while ratings levels are invariably lower for the rerun; dramas with continuous story lines have witnessed steeper declines when aired a second time.

Reruns of regular series constitute a sizable portion of programming inventory. Nevertheless, there has been almost no information about viewer response to original versus repeat telecast. Are there noteworthy differentiations in attentiveness? Does this vary by genre? By reported audience size? By demographic? Fortunately, this question is now a solved mystery, courtesy of the tens of millions of episode-specific surveys provided by IAG Research.

One look at the broadcast networks’ fall schedules reveals a range of genres: comedies, procedurals, newsmagazines and myriad varieties of reality. Our analysis compares the Program Engagement Score for original and repeat episodes of every series airing on the six broadcast networks between Sept. 19, 2005, and June 11, 2006.

Series were analyzed if they met these criteria: at least three telecasts during that period were original episodes; and at least three were reruns. The list would include only programs returning this fall.

The five series, one from each of the five fall broadcast networks, hold the distinction of generating Program Engagement Scores that are very similar for both original and repeat telecasts. Since higher engagement has been shown to deliver a superior commercial environment, this distinction is certainly worth noting.

The table does not indicate the actual scores; they may be relatively high or low. But what is important is that there is little difference in engagement when the rerun airs.

Reruns vs. Originals

Returning shows that exhibit the least difference in program engagement when comparing originals versus repeats. Top shows by broadcast network.

Network Program

ABC Wife Swap

CBS 48 Hours Mystery

UPN* America’s Next Top Model

Fox Cops

NBC Deal or No Deal

* Program will air on The CW starting this fall.

Regularly airing prime-time shows with at least three telecasts in both repeats and originals. Results are among all viewers.

Source: IAG Research, Sept. 19, 2005-June 11, 2006.