The DVR Skew: Delayed Viewing Numbers are Not Helping Low Rated Shows like Minority Report and Sleepy Hollow

By | November 5, 2015

Limitless is currently the top genre show in the avg overnight and Live+7 ratings

We have several weeks of Live+7 delayed viewing numbers in now for the broadcast network shows from the Fall season, so it is worth taking a look at what these numbers are telling us, if anything.  And what we see in the chart below is that the delayed viewing does pad out the ratings numbers, but it does not change much how these shows are ranked vs. one another.  The Avg Overnight Rtg column in the chart below shows the most recent ratings averages for these shows and Live+SD Avg Rating Tracked shows the overnight averages for the airings that we have Live+7 data for (which is on about a two week delay).  When you compare that to the Avg Live+7 Rtg column, you will see that the numbers increase, but the ranking stays pretty much the same.  So for those claiming that there is a secretly stashed audience for low rated shows like Minority Report or Sleepy Hollow, the numbers don’t support it.  When you factor in the Live+7 viewing for that show, it is still at the bottom of the list as far as the non-CW shows go.  Of course we have to take into account the fact that the Live+7 Numbers are still strictly based on the Nielsen families, so you can argue that is not a very representative sampling.  But I still don’t think that a better sampling process would move Minority Report much further up the list.  And you can see that Scream Queens currently has the highest percentage gains among the Big Four network genre shows, but that still has little impact on its ranking when comparing the overnights to the delayed viewing.

So what this boils down to is that the overnights are still the leading indicators based on the current (flawed) measurement system and the best metric to use for predictions of network behavior.  Mind you, I’m not saying that’s the way it should be or that this is a good system for measuring the audience and sustainability of a series, but if we want to have a good idea of whether a network will cancel or renew a show then the overnight ratings give us the best measuring stick at this point despite the fact that they continue to give a lot of lipservice to the delayed viewing numbers.  As the television landscape continues to change and evolve, I believe this will change.  But for now, the old school numbers still do the job.

Note that the Live+7 data below is only thru October 18th (it is on approximately a 2+ week delay), thus the reason Supergirl does not show up yet.  And it is only for shows that I have at least one day’s worth of data for in the season (my source only has the Top 25 for ratings and percentage gain), thus the reason shows like Arrow and iZombie are not showing up.

Rank Live+7 Series Network Avg Over-night Rtg Live+7 Days Tracked Live+SD Avg Rating Tracked for Live+7 Avg Live+7 Rtg Live+7 % Gain Cancellation Alert
1 Limitless CBS 1.6 4 1.7 2.9 69.6% Low
2 Once Upon A Time ABC 1.7 4 1.7 2.8 64.7% Low
3 Gotham FOX 1.5 4 1.6 2.8 80.6% Low
4 Agents of SHIELD ABC 1.5 3 1.6 2.7 70.2% Low
5 Heroes Reborn NBC 1.3 4 1.5 2.6 78.0% Medium
6 Scream Queens FOX 1.2 4 1.3 2.4 86.5% Moderate
7 The Flash CW 1.4 2 1.4 2.3 64.3% Low
8 The Last Man on Earth FOX 1.3 3 1.2 2.0 69.4% Moderate
9 Sleepy Hollow FOX 0.9 3 0.9 1.7 78.6% High
10 Supernatural CW 0.8 1 0.9 1.5 66.7% Low
11 Minority Report FOX 0.7 4 0.9 1.5 73.5% High
12 Vampire Diaries CW 0.6 2 0.6 1.1 83.3% Low
13 The Originals CW 0.4 2 0.5 0.9 88.9% Low

Metric Definitions:

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.

Live+SD Avg Rtg Tracked for Live+7: This is the average Live+SD rating for the Live+7 Days Tracked above.  This will vary from the Avg Overnight Rtg because of the two week delay on Live+7 data.

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.

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