The DVR Skew: If Delayed Viewing Really Mattered to the Networks, Why Was Under the Dome Cancelled and No Renewal Yet for Wayward Pines?

By | September 30, 2015

Tracking the ratings for the broadcast and cable sci fi / fantasy shows factoring in DVR viewing up to seven days past the live broadcast (data is on a three week delay).

Under-the-Dome-CancelledIt’s still too early for the Fall delayed viewing results, but I thought it would be interesting to take a look back at the Summer numbers and see if they had much impact on whether shows were renewed or cancelled.  Unfortunately, the broadcast networks are still dragging their heals on several of their Summer shows, so we don’t have the full picture just yet.  You can see in the table below that Wayward Pines had the highest rating among the genre entries, and yet we have still heard no word on renewal despite the fact that it ended in July.  Next was Under the Dome and it ended up getting cancelled.  Considering that the partnership CBS had with Amazon as well as the international financing made this one profitable out of the gate, you’d think the network would have wanted to keep it around to plug up an hour on the typically low-viewership Summer schedule, but apparently not.  Next is Zoo which did a little better in the overnights than Under the Dome but came in at about the same Live+7 score.  Word is CBS is leaning toward renewing this show.  Next is The Whispers which looked terrible in the overnights during the second half of its first season but which saw decent DVR gains.  But this one appears headed toward cancellation as it wrapped up a month ago and the actors have been released from their contracts.  Even further down is Extant which had neither impressive overnights nor particularly good delayed viewing gains.  Though word is that CBS is leaning toward renewing this one, perhaps because it has the same partnerships that Under the Dome did.  Though why didn’t they keep that one around as well.  Hannibal and The Messengers were both cancelled because they didn’t pull many viewers either live or after the fact.  And Beauty and the Beast is in a class by itself as The CW keeps it around despite abysmal ratings.

Rank Live+7 Series Network Avg Over-night Rtg Live+7 Days Tracked Avg Live+7 Rtg Live+7 % Gain Cancellation Alert
1 Wayward Pines FOX 1.1 10 2.2 103.6% Medium
2 Under the Dome CBS 0.9 12 1.7 82.1% Cancelled
3 Zoo CBS 1.1 11 1.7 54.6% Moderate
4 The Whispers ABC 0.8 13 1.4 72.2% Elevated
5 Extant CBS 0.7 11 1.1 51.9% Medium
6 Hannibal NBC 0.4 13 0.6 53.1% Cancelled
7 The Messengers CW 0.2 5 0.4 90.0% Cancelled
8 Beauty and the Beast CW 0.2 12 0.3 42.9% Renewed

As for the cable shows, it is harder to gauge the lower rated ones and the data is somewhat spotty on these because I only see the report with the Top 25 gains in ratings and in percentage.  The fewer the episodes available to measure the delayed viewing change, the more inaccurate the numbers (and for several weeks in the Summer I did not see any delayed viewing data at all).  The upper portion of this list seems to make sense as these are the top shows in the overnights and also in delayed viewing.  But you have to wonder why Proof got cancelled despite having similar DVR gains to Scream and Outlander.  And for all of the shows in the bottom half of the list, you can see that they are not getting huge lifts from delayed viewing numbers-wise.  How much difference does a 0.5 Live+7 rating for Dark Matter make vs. its Live+SD score of a 0.2?  They are both pretty low numbers.  The same can be said for pretty much all of the shows that had a 0.3 overnight rating or less.  So despite all of the lipservice that the networks keep giving to the delayed viewing numbers, I’m still not seeing that they are making that much of a difference.  Maybe that will change as we head into Fall, especially with the ratings slump still impacting all the television networks.  But for now, it appears that the overnights remain the leading indicators on whether a show will be cancelled or renewed.

Rank Live+7 Series Network Avg Over-night Rtg Live+7 Days Tracked Avg Live+7 Rtg Live+7 % Gain Cancellation Alert
1 Fear the Walking Dead AMC 3.9 3 6.4 52.9% Renewed
2 Game of Thrones HBO 3.5 9 4.9 40.8% Renewed
3 The Last Ship TNT 0.7 10 1.3 78.9% Renewed
4 The Strain FX 0.6 8 1.2 111.7% Renewed
5 Falling Skies TNT 0.5 8 1.0 112.8% Final Season
6 Teen Wolf MTV 0.5 7 0.9 88.1% Renewed
7 Humans AMC 0.4 3 0.7 93.0% Renewed
8 Proof TNT 0.3 3 0.6 111.1% Cancelled
9 Scream MTV 0.3 6 0.6 101.1% Renewed
10 Outlander STARZ 0.3 7 0.6 105.3% Renewed
11 Defiance Syfy 0.3 9 0.6 137.0% Medium
12 Dark Matter Syfy 0.2 7 0.5 115.2% Renewed
13 Dominion Syfy 0.3 3 0.5 129.5% Moderate
14 Penny Dreadful SHOW 0.2 9 0.5 95.2% Renewed
15 Killjoys Syfy 0.2 6 0.4 109.7% Renewed
16 Orphan Black BBCA 0.2 8 0.4 183.3% Renewed
17 Salem WGN 0.1 9 0.3 180.0% Renewed

Metric Definitions:

Live+7 Rating:  This is the rating in the 18-49 demographic that factors in the viewing from the live broadcast plus DVR viewing up to seven days later.

Avg Overnight Rtg: The season to date average rating based on the final overnights for live broadcast.

Live+7 Days Tracked: The days that the Live+7 data was available for a show in the Live+7 Top 25 charts published by TV by The Numbers.

Avg Live+7 Rtg: The season to date average rating based on the Live+7 numbers for the Live+7 Days Tracked (see metric above).

Live+7 % Gain: The average Live+7 rating percent gain from the average overnight rating based on the Live+7 Days Tracked (see metric above).  The more datapoints available in the Live+7 Days Tracked, the more accurate this will be and the closer the math will work.  Shows with fewer datapoints will have larger discrepancies.

Cancellation Alert: My estimation on a show’s chances of being cancelled.  The five levels from least to most likely to be cancelled are Low, Moderate, Medium, Elevated, and High.

2 thoughts on “The DVR Skew: If Delayed Viewing Really Mattered to the Networks, Why Was Under the Dome Cancelled and No Renewal Yet for Wayward Pines?

  1. ...

    I’m assuming Under the Dome was cancelled due to a second straight season of huge L+SD slippage, which would probably cause Amazon to renegotiate the “digital syndication” package. And I heard that they weren’t getting the production tax break that they did for the first two seasons, which would be a major blow for a fringe-y show like this.

    Wayward Pines did well in L+SD ratings, so I think its cancellation was likely storyline induced. They used the trilogy of source material over the course of 10 episodes, therefore they simply might not have anywhere to go. If it was a regular season show that performed well, they might have the incentive to go for it, but a summer show with a seemingly finite end point? Probably not worth the financial risk.

    Plus, there were rumors of trouble during production, so FOX might just want to cut bait, call it a win, and move on.

    Proof was cancelled because it A) skewed old; B) fell a lot from its lead-in; and C) came from the previous regime at TNT. Kevin Reilly wants to do away with procedurals and replace them with FX-y type shows – edgy, serialized, loud.

    1. admin Post author

      Good info. What are your sources? Interested in contributing to this site?


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