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FX Made A Ratings Decision That Could Change Television For The Better

By 07.21.14
the bridge

FX


Last Sunday’s The Strain premiere was a massive hit for FX, so why did it take the network nearly a week to release ratings information? The way things usually work is: show airs, network gets “Live+Same Day” ratings report from Nielsen, network sends out press release touting show’s success, network gets “Live+3″ numbers, and network sends out ANOTHER press release. It’s an outdated model, because with the exception of sports, no one watches live television anymore.

So that’s why FX’s decision to stop paying attention to “Live+Same Day” numbers is big news.

In a first for a TV industry grappling to get an accurate handle on audience measurement in the DVR era, the network waited until Nielsen issued its “Live+3″ numbers on Friday to release any ratings data to the press. The “Live+Same-Day” numbers were issued by Nielsen on Tuesday, and reported in some outlets, but they are increasingly becoming irrelevant for a business whose chief advertising currency is sold off numbers that include three days’ worth of DVR playback.

“With the exception of sports, news and live events, Live+Same Day ratings no longer accurately reflect the audience delivery for a scripted entertainment program,” said FX’s John Solberg in a note accompanying Friday’s ratings release. “We believe they grossly mischaracterize the actual audience due to the multiple data streams and platforms. Therefore, our first acknowledgement of any ratings will be on a Live+3 basis and beyond.” (Via)

“Live+Same Day” equals the number of people watching a specific show either as it airs or later on that same night, while “Live+3″ adds an extra three days, to account for DVRs and online streaming. Anyway, that makes sense for the FXs and Showtimes of the world (where only 32% of Homeland‘s seven million-strong audience watches the series “live”), but what about CBS, whose demographic is old people who lost the gosh-darn remote and still subscribe to TV Guide?

“If you were a sports reporter, you wouldn’t report the winner on the third-inning score,” CBS chief research officer David Poltrack told the crowd of reporters. “You can’t do that. We all provide projections. The one thing you can be sure about our projections is that if one of us starts giving you a lot of bullsh*t, the others are going to let you know.” (Via)

I’m sure advertisers aren’t stoked about FX’s decision, but it’s excellent (if too late) news for a show like Surviving Jack, which was very good but skewed young, and young people don’t watch live TV anymore. It’s about time a network stopped paying attention to the Nielsen’s archaic way of unfairly determining the life and death of shows, and hopefully this should change TV for the better.

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Via Variety


TAGSFXNIELSEN RATINGSRATINGSthe bridgeTHE STRAIN

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