The DVR Skew: Limitless is One of the Few Shows Improving its Standing with Delayed Viewing

By | April 27, 2016

limitless-open-your-mindThe networks have been quick to renew shows this season and I’m sure they will tell you that they are looking at the delayed viewing numbers much closer now and not focusing as heavily on the overnights. But that really is all just netspeak and the truth is that once you factor in DVR gains, the relative standings of most shows do not change much. If you look at the chart below tracking the broadcast network shows, you can see that it is ranked by the average Live+7 rating, but if it was re-ordered to sort by the average overnight rating, the rankings would not change much. Sure, some shows would shift up or down by one or two slots, but there would be no major changes to the rankings.

TV by the Numbers put together a good comparison of scripted shows for each network and it has very similar results. They have shows ranked by average overnights, average Live+3, and average Live+7, and there is not a lot of difference in the standings across each category. One notable exception, though, is CBS freshman entry Limitless. That show is ranked Number 12 among the CBS scripted shows based on the overnights, but it moves up four slots to Number 8 based on Live+3 and Live+7 delayed viewing (I have it as the fifth highest rated genre show for the season based on Live+7). That one has been subjected to an inordinate amount of preemptions for a new show, so it makes sense that people are typically catching up with it on DVR. Should CBS elect not to renew it for a second season, then I will be calling foul very loudly (as will the fans) because they have proclaimed that the overnights are no longer important and that show is performing quite well once delayed viewing is factored in.

Following are the delayed viewing results for the broadcast network sci fi / fantasy shows through the week of April 4th ranked by Live+7 average rating (metric definitions below):

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 The X-Files FOX 3.2 6 3.2 4.9 54.7% Low
2 Lucifer FOX 1.5 10 1.5 2.7 72.7% Renewed
3 Supergirl CBS 1.7 15 1.7 2.6 49.0% Low
4 Gotham FOX 1.4 16 1.5 2.5 73.2% Renewed
5 Limitless CBS 1.4 20 1.4 2.4 76.0% Moderate
6 Once Upon A Time ABC 1.4 15 1.4 2.4 65.4% Renewed
7 The Flash CW 1.4 17 1.4 2.3 63.7% Renewed
8 Agents of SHIELD ABC 1.2 15 1.3 2.2 75.4% Renewed
9 Heroes Reborn NBC 1.2 11 1.2 2.1 77.3% Cancelled
10 The Last Man on Earth FOX 1.2 9 1.2 1.9 65.1% Renewed
11 Angel from Hell CBS 1.4 1 1.3 1.9 46.2% Cancelled
12 Scream Queens FOX 1.1 11 1.1 1.9 79.3% Renewed
13 Grimm NBC 0.9 16 0.9 1.7 85.0% Renewed
14 Arrow CW 1.0 10 1.0 1.6 64.9% Renewed
15 Legends of Tomorrow CW 0.8 9 0.9 1.6 77.2% Renewed
16 Sleepy Hollow FOX 0.8 16 0.8 1.5 76.7% Medium
17 Agent Carter ABC 0.8 6 0.8 1.4 79.2% Medium
18 Minority Report FOX 0.7 7 0.7 1.2 70.6% High
19 Supernatural CW 0.7 13 0.7 1.2 77.5% Renewed
20 Vampire Diaries CW 0.5 17 0.5 1.0 97.6% Renewed
21 The 100 CW 0.5 6 0.5 0.9 80.0% Renewed
22 Second Chance FOX 0.6 6 0.5 0.9 67.7% High
23 Galavant ABC 0.6 2 0.6 0.9 54.5% Moderate
24 iZombie CW 0.5 5 0.5 0.8 70.8% Renewed
25 The Originals CW 0.4 16 0.4 0.8 92.2% Renewed

For the cable entries, the delayed viewing data has been spotty lately, so the picture there is not complete and I do not have data for all of this seasons’ shows. But the “ratings noise” shows performing in the 0.2 to 0.4 range based on the overnights are not seeing huge gains once the DVRs are counted. Sure, several of them are doubling their viewership or more, but a 0.6 or 0.7 based on the Live+7 viewing still indicates a pretty small audience. But several of these shows are managing to survive because they have international financing / partnerships backing them and they build up an audience when syndicated globally.

Following are the delayed viewing results for the cable sci fi / fantasy shows (where data was available) through the week of April 4th ranked by Live+7 average rating (metric definitions below):

Rank Live+7 Series Network Avg Over-night Rtg Live+7 Days Tracked Live+7 Tracked Avg Rating Avg Live+7 Rtg Live+7 % Gain Cancellation Alert
1 The Walking Dead AMC 6.5 4 6.5 9.5 46.9% Renewed
2 Fear the Walking Dead AMC 2.6 1 3.1 4.5 46.1% Renewed
5 Teen Wolf MTV 0.4 1 0.5 0.8 77.8% Renewed
3 The Shannara Chronicles MTV 0.4 3 0.4 1.0 152.1% Renewed
6 Shadowhunters Free 0.4 6 0.4 0.8 115.6% Renewed
4 Colony USA 0.4 4 0.4 0.8 127.6% Renewed
7 The Leftovers HBO 0.3 1 0.3 0.7 112.1% Final Season
7 Doctor Who BBCA 0.4 1 0.3 0.7 118.8% Renewed
9 The Magicians Syfy 0.3 6 0.3 0.6 115.1% Renewed
10 The Expanse Syfy 0.2 1 0.2 0.5 150.0% Renewed
11 Damien A&E 0.2 1 0.2 0.4 135.3% Moderate
12 Star Wars Rebels DXD 0.1 2 0.2 0.4 118.8% Renewed

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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