ABC Leads Premiere Week C3 Ratings

Oct 15, 2008  •  Post A Comment

ABC won the broadcast networks’ premiere week where it really counts—in the commercial ratings that determine how much advertisers pay for 30-second spots.
Among adults 18 to 49, ABC averaged a 3.49 C3 rating—a measurement that calculates the viewership for the average commercial minute during a program, whether its seen live or played back on digital video recorders within three days of air.
The commercial rating was designed to give advertisers a better idea of how many people are watching their ads than program ratings do. It also gives networks credit for the growing number of people who watch shows on a delayed basis—as long as they don’t fast-forward through commercial breaks.
NBC finished second in C3 during premiere week—Sept. 22—with a 3.14, followed by CBS with a 2.83 and Fox with a 2.65.
Using program ratings for viewers watching live or replaying shows the same day they air—the metric most reported the day after shows appear—the rankings were the same, but the numbers were lower. ABC averaged a 3.8 rating, NBC snared a 3.3, CBS drew a 3.1 and Fox was at 3.0.
CBS executive VP for research and planning David Poltrack noted that during premiere week, CBS didn’t air its most watched and most played-back show, “CSI.” It also hadn’t launched its Friday night lineup. In the next two weeks, CBS was No. 1 among adults 18 to 49 in program ratings, he said.
Mr. Poltrack added that while premiere week was one of CBS’s weakest weeks, nine of its series were up from a year ago comparing this year’s C3 numbers to last year’s C3 numbers, more than any other network.
“We’re very pleased that our C3 numbers are up. We don’t have any audience deficiencies, we’re making our guarantees [to advertisers], and that was in a week that we were operating with one hand tied behind our back,” Mr. Poltrack said.
Using both measures, ABC’s “Grey’s Anatomy” was the week’s top-rated show; it had a 6.97 C3 rating.
With C3, NBC’s “Sunday Night Football” beat out ABC’s “Desperate Housewives” for the No. 2 spot. “SNF” finished third using program ratings. Its improvement explains why advertisers are flocking to sports events, which viewers tend to watch live, making it less likely they’ll fast-forward through commercial breaks.
The rest of the top 10 using C3 were “CSI: Miami” (ranked 6th using program ratings), “Dancing With the Stars” (tied for 4th), “Two and a Half Men” (tied for 4th), “House” (7), “Heroes” (8); “The OT” (tied for 9th) and “Sunday Night NFL Pre-Kickoff Show” (tied for 14th).
“Fringe,” the new drama in which Fox is running fewer commercials, seems to be succeeding in doing a better job of holding onto viewers than its more cluttered competitors. While most series had lower commercial ratings than program ratings, the commercial rating for “Fringe” was a 4.1, the same as its program rating.
When Fox announced “Fringe” would be part of its “Remote Free TV” program running some shows with half the normal commercial load, it promised advertisers more viewers would tune in and pay more attention. It also charged higher ad rates for “Fringe” than other new shows could command.
Even before the commercial ratings were issued, “Fringe” was seen as one of the emerging hits of the new season.
(Updated throughout at 8 p.m. ET.)

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