Friday, February 04, 2011

How To Look at TV Ratings Today; Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows (Week of February 7, 2011)

The way we look at TV ratings has certainly changed over the years. Never mind that TV ratings have fallen in the last 4-5 years, most probably because of DVR (and other ways to watch your shows), but it's not all about top 20 or total viewers anymore--and it hasn't been for years now. The network executives and advertisers look at 18-49 ratings and that's mainly about it (yes 18-34 is also looked at, but that's inside the 18-49 range). That's what pays the bills and advertisers want shows that skew in that demo. Sure high total viewers is good as well, but if your 18-49 rating is not as high, it really doesn't matter in this business.
We do weekly TV ratings blogs every Sunday, but I don't go in depth on what really is working and what isn't. So I have decided to tell you today how the ratings game works using many examples. First, if a show has a good percentage of its audience inside the 18-49 proportion, it will always be looked at. Why? Because there is more of a chance that a person in the 18-49 year range will be watching the ad during that show. For example, this Wednesday's Cougar Town did a 3.9 overall household rating (6.51 million). That may not sound like it is a big hit, but its 18-49 rating was good at a 2.7 rating. The 18-49 proportion to its overall rating is about 69%, which is very good and what network executives aim for and the advertisers want. Generally, I think anything about 45% or more in the 18-49 range is acceptable. So looking at this past Wednesday's third special airing of Blue Bloods on CBS, it did a good 7.1 household rating, but its 18-49 rating was only a 1.6. That is only about 22% in the 18-49 proportion. That is not good. Sure, its overall numbers may be good but that doesn't pay the bills. This rating might be "acceptable" for a Friday or Saturday, where ratings are lower, but on a weeknight (Sun-Thurs), this is not acceptable. Even on a Friday it would be borderline, as we saw similar series like this canceled over the years (Close to Home, Women's Murder Club).
Next, if you skew old but still do an acceptable 18-49 rating, then you'll be fine as well. A perfect example of this is NCIS. The series does over 20 million viewers, but its overall 18-49 rating is still decent. This past Tuesday, NCIS did a mammoth 13.2 HH rating. The 18-49 rating was a great 4.6 as well. However, that only comes out to about 35% in the 18-49 proportion. While that is low, it still matters that its overall 18-49 rating was good. So in some cases like this, the skew doesn't matter since its overall 18-49 rating is high. However, while its overall 18-49 rating is fine, the competing Glee on Fox skews much younger and does a slightly better 18-49 rating, but advertisers pay much more for Glee than NCIS because of the skew. This season, Glee is netting $272,694 for a 30-second ad, while NCIS is much lower at $150,708 despite being the most watched scripted series. Then there is the case where you may skew inside the 18-49 range, but your overall 18-49 rating is low. Last night's Perfect Couples is a prime example. It only did a prelim 1.9 household rating and a prelim 1.4 18-49 rating. Ouch. But that is nearly 74% in the 18-49 proportion. In this case it doesn't matter, since the overall 18-49 rating is very low. The ideal case is a show that skews 18-49 and still has a good overall 18-49 rating. Some good examples are Modern Family, Cougar Town, American Idol, How I Met Your Mother, Big Bang Theory and Grey's Anatomy.
Another factor I want to cover is retention. Yes, it is important but with same day DVR thru 3am being added to the ratings, it really doesn't tell you the retention because people are watching the shows at a different time. The only way to "truly" measure retention is by the actual live ratings, since it is not counting the added same day DVR thru 3am. Many of the big hit shows add over a point to their 18-49 rating because of the same day DVR added, thus this really messes up the retention rate. One show that is heavily DVRed is the CBS Monday comedy How I Met Your Mother. Looking at its last new episode on Jan. 17, it did a 3.9 18-49 rating. Take away any DVR for that night thru 3am, and it comes out to a 2.7. So 1.2 was added that very same night thru 3am. They watched it at 9pm or 2am, or anytime between 8:30pm-3am. The show following the comedy on the CBS schedule at 8:30pm is Rules of Engagement. It is not as heavily DVRed as Mother, so the retention rate gets messed up all the time. Rules on Jan. 17 did a 3.3 18-49 rating, so it "lost" 0.6 from its lead-in. But did it really? Taking away any DVR from that night, Rules comes out to a 2.6 18-49 rating, only losing a tenth from Mother's live rating. So it isn't bad at all, as the retention rate is actually 96% there and not 85% when same day DVR is factored in. So why would retention rates matter when same day DVR thru 3am is being added to the ratings? It would only matter if you are seeing the actual live ratings, because people can watch these shows anytime now until 3am and have the ratings counted.
Next is how to track a new show. The NBC drama Harry's Law premiered on Jan. 17 and it has been consistent through its first three airings (yes, it has faced a repeat or two for all of its airings so far, but still consistent). The 18-49 track for the first three episodes are 2.2, 2.1, and 2.1. That is not much of a drop at all, which is good. The overall 18-49 rating is decent for 10pm these days, too. However, like Blue Bloods it skews terribly old. It may be doing around 11 million, but less than 30% of its audience is in the 18-49 proportion, so it is less likely the ads are being watched in the demo. It is still early to determine the status of Harry's Law, as the next four weeks will be key as both Castle and Hawaii Five-0 are all-new these four weeks. If it can maintain the 2.0-2.2 average, then NBC will for sure bring it back despite the old skew. Anything lower might be Friday material because it has a good overall audience still. The CBS drama The Good Wife does a similar skew currently. It started off higher last year in the 18-49 rating than Harry, though, but right now it is doing a 2.2 18-49 rating. It will be interesting to see if CBS moves it to another night (Friday?) next season as the overall 18-49 rating has dipped this season. The only thing that might prevent CBS from moving it is that its their only drama that is critically acclaimed and wins awards. Harry's Law still has plenty more to do before it can be in the same league as The Good Wife.
One other thing I want to note is repeat airings. Why do serialized shows get repeat airings? Because the ad money is the same as it would be for a new episode. This is why Grey's Anatomy, which doesn't repeat well but gets a lot of ad money, is repeated. Sure it is good to be competitive once in a while and remove the repeat for something that does better in the ratings, but ultimately ad money would win. I am sure when ABC preempted a scheduled Grey's repeat for the Barbara Walters special with Oprah on Dec. 8 it didn't generate as much as a Grey's Anatomy episode would have done. So, yes, this is why you see some repeats of shows that don't repeat well. It's all about ad money.
I think that's about it. I was looking through the web and not many people understand how to look at TV ratings these days. There is one great blog I came upon on my search and it uses much more stats to back things up than I just did. Take a look at this read from the Spotted blog from December 2009. That is just one of many blog articles that was well "spot on," so you might want to read some of the other blogs (like this one) during that time frame. I hope you learned something today and remember...it's all about ad money and the 18-49 demo (preferably skewing in that demo). See you on Sunday for our normal ratings report, like usual.


It's Friday, so it is time for "Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows" for the coming week. This is where we list what sitcom stars are appearing on talk shows for the coming week, the stars are both current and past sitcom stars (but we won't cover movie stars like Tom Hanks or John Travolta, since they won't be talking about their past sitcoms likely), so this is for all sitcom fans of all eras!
For the week of Feb. 7-11, 2010, we have many current sitcom stars and past sitcom stars on TV talk shows! So get your DVR's (or whatever you use) ready! Ready? Here is all what you need to know for the coming week!

Monday, February 7, 2011
  • Martin Lawrence (Martin) - Watch Martin on Late Show with David Letterman at 11:35pm on CBS.
  • Sarah Chalke (Mad Love/Scrubs) - Catch Sarah on The Talk on CBS at 2pm ET/1pm CT-PT.
  • Jason Biggs (Mad Love) - Watch Jason also on The Talk on CBS at 2pm ET/1pm CT-PT.
  • Matthew Perry (Mr. Sunshine/Friends) - Watch Matthew on LIVE! with Regis & Kelly, so check your listings.
  • Allison Janney (Mr. Sunshine) - Watch Allison on The Ellen DeGeneres Show, so you'll have to check listings for time and station.
  • Jessica Walter (Retired at 35/Arrested Development/Three's a Crowd) - Catch Jessica on The Joy Behar Show at 9pm on HLN.
Tuesday, February 8, 2011
  • Matthew Perry (Mr. Sunshine/Friends) - See Matthew as he visits The Ellen DeGeneres Show in the daytime (check listings) and then in late night on ABC's Jimmy Kimmel Live! at 12am.
  • Kevin Nealon (Weeds) - Catch Kevin on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon at 12:37am on NBC.
  • Ed Helms (The Office) - Catch Ed on NBC's TODAY show sometime between 7-9am then a few hours later on The View at 11am ET/10am CT-PT on ABC.
  • Martin Lawrence (Martin) - Watch Martin on LIVE! with Regis & Kelly on your local affiliate.
Wednesday, February 9, 2011
  • Ty Burell (Modern Family/Back to You) - Watch the funnyman on ABC's The View at 11am ET/10am CT-PT then later on Late Show with David Letterman at 11:35pm on CBS.
  • Matt LeBlanc (Episodes/Friends/Joey) - Matt visits The Tonight Show with Jay Leno on NBC at 11:35pm.
  • Carl Reiner (The Dick Van Dyke Show) - Watch the TV legend on Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson on CBS at 12:37am.
  • Mario Lopez (Saved by the Bell) - It's all right because you can watch Mario on OWN's The Gayle King Show at 10am.
  • Kevin Nealon (Weeds) - Watch Kevin on TODAY sometine between 7-11am on NBC.
  • Roseanne Barr (Roseanne) - Catch Roseanne on The Mo'nique Show on BET at 11pm.
Thursday, February 10, 2011
  • Johnny Galecki (The Big Bang Theory/Roseanne) - Watch Johnny on the Rachel Ray Show so check your local listings.
Friday, February 11, 2011
  • Aziz Ansari (Parks and Recreation/Scrubs) - Catch Aziz on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon at 12:37am on NBC.
  • Ed Helms (The Office) - Ed appears on Late Show with David Letterman at 11:35pm on CBS.
  • Jason Biggs (Mad Love) - See Jason on Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson at 12:37am on CBS promoting his upcoming sitcom.
  • Lisa Kudrow (Friends/The Comeback) - Watch Lisa on The Gayle King Show on OWN at 10am.
Leave us comments on our message board or Tweet/Facebook us to let us know what you think of this Friday feature! We do listen!


Sitcoms Airing Tonight

Tuesday, July 23

The Conners - "O Sister, Where Art Thou?" (ABC, 8:00PM ET/PT) (Repeat)
When Becky helps Harris keep a secret from Darlene, it opens up a can of worms that causes a rift between the two sisters. Jackie supports Peter with his Nordic history project, and Dan reunites with an old friend.

American Housewife - "Insta-Friends" (ABC, 8:30PM ET/PT) (Repeat)
Katie feels left out and slightly jealous when Greg becomes fast friends with the newest member of the Westport Historical Guild. Meanwhile, Oliver fears Cooper is ditching him when he sees on social media that Cooper lied about his weekend plans.

Modern Family - "Whanex?" (ABC, 9:00PM ET/PT) (Repeat)
While preparing a presentation for his students about their future goals, Cam (Eric Stonestreet) must also contend with a bully at the school and Jay (Ed O’Neil) is having a little technical trouble during his video conference. Meanwhile, the local mall is holding a photo shoot for its new ad campaign and Gloria tricks Phil and Joe into participating.

black-ish - "Under the Influence" (ABC, 9:30PM ET/PT) (Repeat)
Jack is going through an experimental phase and getting himself into trouble, so Dre chaperones the twins’ school dance to keep an eye on him. Meanwhile, Junior fights with his girlfriend, Niecy, after she thinks he spends too much time taking care of Devante.

Modern Family - "We Need to Talk About Lily" (ABC, 10:00PM ET/PT) (Repeat)
Phil may have conquered his biggest real estate challenge when he thinks he found Pepper his dream home. Meanwhile, in an attempt to connect with Lily, Mitch and Cam get invited to an exclusive event for her favorite vlogger.

black-ish - "Each One, Teach One" (ABC, 10:30PM ET/PT) (Repeat)
Dre feels like he has made a difference with the diversity at Stevens & Lido as the head of the Urban Division, but when Junior tells him that Josh is his mentor, Dre flips out. Meanwhile, Jack and Diane show their friends a video of Bow dancing and now she’s become the hot mom.

The Detour - "The Game Show" (TBS, 10:30PM ET/PT)
The Parkers are contestants on a Japanese game show.

Sydney to the Max - "Dancin' the Vida Loca" (Disney Channel, 8:00PM ET/PT)
When Sydney struggles with ballet, something her mom was great at, she starts to feel like she's losing touch of her mom.

Sydney to the Max - "How Sydney Got Her Phone Back" (Disney Channel, 8:30PM ET/PT)
When a cell phone ban policy during school hours goes up for a vote, Sydney is sure that her dad, who's on the Parent School Committee, will vote against it.

Complete TV Listings


Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows (Week of July 22)

Tuesday, July 23

  • Fred Armisen (Los Espookys/Forever) - Catch Fred on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon at 11:34pm on NBC.
  • Tony Hale (Veep/Arrested Development) - Tony appears on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert at 11:35pm on CBS.
  • Eva Longoria (Telenovela) - Eva stops by The Late Late Show with James Corden at 12:37am on CBS.
  • Thomas Lennon (The Odd Couple/Sean Saves the World/Reno 911!) - Thomas visits The Late Late Show with James Corden at 12:37am on CBS.
  • Charlie Hunnam (Undeclared) - Charlie is a guest on a repeat of Last Call with Carson Daly at 1:35am on NBC.
  • Rami Malek (The War at Home) - Rami appears on a repeat of Last Call with Carson Daly at 1:35am on NBC.
  • David Spade (Rules of Engagement/8 Simple Rules/Just Shoot Me!) - David drops by Last Call with Carson Daly at 1:35am on NBC.
  • Lisa Kudrow (Friends/The Comeback/Web Therapy) - Lisa is a guest on a repeat of Conan at 11pm on TBS.
  • Kyle Richards (Down to Earth) - Kyle visits Watch What Happens: Live at 11pm on Bravo.
  • Anthony Anderson (black-ish/Guys with Kids/All About the Andersons) - Anthony visits The Talk on CBS at 2pm ET/1pm CT-PT.
  • Idris Elba (Turn Up Charlie) - Idris appears on a repeat of The Ellen DeGeneres Show, so check your local listings. He also talks about Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw on ABC's Good Morning America sometime between 7-9am.
  • Jason Priestley (Call Me Fitz) - Jason talks about the Casteel Family Movie Series on ABC's Good Morning America sometime between 7-9am.
  • Billy Eichner (Friends from College/Difficult People/Parks and Recreation) - Billy talks about The Lion King on NBC's Today in the 10am hour.
  • David Spade (Rules of Engagement/8 Simple Rules/Just Shoot Me!) - David talks about Lights Out with David Spade on the BUILD Series at 2pm.


New on DVD/Blu-ray (May/June/July)

My Three Sons - The Third Season - Volume One Perfect Strangers - The Complete Seventh and Eighth Seasons The Brady Bunch - 50th Anniversary The Brady-est TV & Movie Collection Will & Grace (The Revival) - Season Two The Good Place - The Complete Third Season

05/07 - Baskets - The Complete Season Three
05/13 - I'm Dying Up Here - Season 2
05/13 - My Three Sons - The Third Season - Volume One
05/13 - My Three Sons - The Third Season - Volume Two
05/14 - The Donna Reed Show - Seasons 1-5
05/14 - Petticoat Junction - Seasons 1-3
05/28 - Perfect Strangers - The Complete Seventh and Eighth Seasons (WBShop.com)
05/28 - South Park - The Complete Twenty-Second Season (Blu-ray)
06/04 - The Brady Bunch - 50th Anniversary The Brady-est Brady Bunch TV & Movie Collection
06/18 - Will & Grace (The Revival) - Season Two (Blu-ray)
07/09 - Broad City - Season 5
07/09 - Broad City - The Complete Series
07/17 - The Practice (1976) - The Complete Series
07/30 - The Good Place - The Complete Third Season
More TV DVD Releases / DVD Reviews Archive / SitcomsOnline Digest


Recent SitcomsOnline.com News Blog Posts

07/23 - Stars from Fan-Favorite Series Reunite on It's a Wonderful Lifetime; HGTV's A Very Brady Contest
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07/21 - Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows; This Week in Sitcoms (Week of July 22, 2019)
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07/19 - Fri-Yay: Beyond Friends and The Office: Other Great Sitcoms on Streaming Services; Mad About You Launches During Holiday 2019 Season
07/18 - HBO Max Revives Gossip Girl; Mario Lopez Leaves Extra and Moves to Access Hollywood
07/17 - The 71st Primetime Emmy Awards Nominations; Netflix Orders Sketch Comedy Series
07/16 - Welcome Back (to School), Kotter Marathon on Antenna TV; Lea Michele Gets ABC Holiday Movie
07/15 - Bounce Sitcom In The Cut Premieres Season 5; Conan Returns to Comic-Con for 5th Year
07/14 - Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows; This Week in Sitcoms (Week of July 15, 2019)
07/13 - SitcomsOnline Digest: Reboot of The Flintstones in the Works (Again); Amazon Orders New Comedy Series
07/12 - Fri-Yay: The End of Friends on Netflix; Remembering Rip Torn of The Larry Sanders Show and Disney Channel Star Cameron Boyce
07/11 - Valerie Bertinelli to Host Food Network Series; Netflix Gets Katherine Heigl for Firefly Lane 07/10 - WarnerMedia Announces HBO Max for 2020 with Friends, Fresh Prince & More; IMDb Gets First Scripted Series
07/09 - COZI TV Schedules Two The Office Stunts; Adult Swim Picks Up New Seasons of Animated Comedies
07/08 - Comedy Central Closes Q2 Strong; Hallmark Channel June Weddings Stunt Scores in Ratings
07/07 - Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows; This Week in Sitcoms (Week of July 8, 2019)
07/06 - SitcomsOnline Digest: WarnerMedia Considering Reboots of TGIF Classics for New Streaming Service
07/05 - Fri-Yay: Netflix's One Day at a Time Revived By Pop TV; WarnerMedia OTT Gets Gremlins Series
07/04 - 2019 4th of July Marathons on TV
07/03 - ABC Fall 2019 Premiere Dates; Celebrate Seinfeld's 30th in NYC
07/02 - Mindy Kaling Produced Comedy on Hulu; HBO's The Righteous Gemstones Premieres Aug. 18
07/01 - Lil Rel Gets HBO Comedy Special; Loudermilk Season 3 Details
06/30 - Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows; This Week in Sitcoms (Week of July 1, 2019)
06/29 - SitcomsOnline Digest: MyNetwork TV Releases Fall Lineup; 70s Danny Thomas Sitcom Coming to DVD
06/28 - One Day at a Time Revived by Pop TV and CBS; WGN America Acquires JAG Starting July 4
06/27 - Remembering Max Wright of ALF; The Office Reruns Move to NBCU Streaming in 2021
06/26 - Comedy Central Gets Friday Talk Show; The Goldbergs Actress Releases Music Video
06/25 - Fox Fall 2019 Premiere Dates; FX Sets Dates for Fall 2019 Schedule
06/24 - Barney Miller Summer Fridays on Antenna TV; Tyler Perry Studios Takes Over BET with New Series
06/23 - Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows; This Week in Sitcoms (Week of June 24, 2019)