Monday, November 04, 2013
Shocking TV ratings news
It makes you wonder – how many shows have networks bailed on over the last few years that really had respectable followings or better? Did NBC cancel THE PLAYBOY CLUB too soon?
What does this new time shifting mean?
Overnight ratings are way less conclusive. Networks must wait weeks to really determine a show’s popularity. (Unless it’s IRONSIDE, which no amount of platforms would help.) The good news here is that shows might now be given more of a chance. They won’t be yanked off the air so quickly.
The ratings will better reflect what the public is watching.
Viewing habits have changed drastically. Viewers no longer decide which of two shows they’ll watch? Now they decide which of two shows they’ll watch live?
This is especially good news for quality programs like THE GOOD WIFE who find themselves in horrible time slots. THE GOOD WIFE on Sunday night must constantly compete with the best of HBO, Showtime, or any other cable channel bringing out their big guns (like MAD MEN).
This is good news for advertisers as well. If viewers are watching ON DEMAND they can’t fast forward through the commercials. This may really confuse the Late-adopters. “Martha, call our grandson again!”
More people are watching network television than they thought.
More people are dumping expensive cable providers and watching their favorite shows on other computer platforms.
The 10:00 hour shows really benefit. People no longer have to stay up late to catch these shows. In primetime, the 10:00 programs are time shifted the most. This may not be your viewing pattern (it's not mine), but research has shown this to be true.
Instead of watching shows once a week, viewers will save up three or four and binge. Especially when there is a continuing storyline, it’s a lot easier to follow that way. Is it just me or do those “Previously on…” segments confuse you more than get you up to speed? There’s way more continuity when you can watch three episodes in a row. Even the Late-adopters can follow it.
Comedies will draw larger audiences. How many times do you watch things on your DVR, it’s getting late, but you’re not ready to turn in yet? You don’t want to start a whole hour but a half-hour comedy is just right. This does not apply to Late-adopters because they are all asleep in front of the TV by 7:00, having had dinner at 4:00.
Notice I said “comedies”, not “sitcoms?” Sitcoms will be in greater competition with programs like THE COLBERT REPORT and THE DAILY SHOW. You don’t just have to be funnier than TWO BROKE GIRLS; you have to be funnier than Stephen Colbert and Jon Stewart. Maybe, just maybe, that will lift the bar on situation comedies. Okay, a Late-adopter can dream.
As patterns continue in this direction (which they will), gone will be those day-after chats around the water cooler. Everybody will be watching television on their own individual schedules. I personally will miss that. Part of the greatness of television was that it created shared national experiences. Now spoiler alerts will have to be extended to one month.
It will be fascinating to see how the networks respond to this new data. Will they change the way they program? How much will time slots lose their importance? Will shows be selected more by how DVR-friendly they are? When shows are up against stiff competition will network promos be telling you to DVR a show rather than watch it? Will GOLDEN GIRLS reruns beat LAST MAN STANDING now that Late-adopters can tape Me-TV? All we can say for sure is that the answers, like the ratings today won’t be determined overnight.