C+3 Commercial Ratings vs. Live+Same Day Program Ratings From Week 1, Do They Change The Prediction Picture?

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Man with crystal ball

C+3 day commercial ratings are what TV advertisers pay for. As noted by Ad Age they are the only TV metric that matters. But the public almost never sees them. (Why that is can be a discussion for another day.)

Instead, the public first sees Live + Same Day program ratings the day after airdate. They’re what the reaper uses to make his predictions. The public also sees Live+3 and Live+7 Day program ratings from the network PR Jedi, because those numbers are always bigger than Live+Same Day program ratings. And for the PR Jedi, bigger is always better!

The network PR Jedi would have you believe that Live+Same Day ratings don’t matter. While the reaper’s prediction record contradicts that, would the C+3 ratings produce different prediction results?

Would the reaper’s predictions be significantly different/better if the reaper could regularly get the C+3 day commercial ratings? Or do Live+Same Day program ratings do about as good a job as C+3 commercial ratings would for prediction purposes?

First, some definitions.

C+3 Day (C+3) commercial ratings: Measure the average ad viewing within 3 days of airdate. If a show has 20 minutes of ads, and a viewer watches all 20 minutes of them they are counted as 1 average viewer for commercial ratings purposes. 10 minutes watched counts them as 0.5 of a viewer. No commercials watched, no commercial ratings contribution at all.

Live+Same Day (Live+SD) program ratings: Measure the average viewing of the entire program (including ads) through 3am after airdate. For a 60 minute show, a viewer that watches all 60 minutes is counted as 1 average viewer for program ratings purposes. 30 minutes watched counts them as 0.5 viewer, etc.

For renewal and cancellation purposes, the only important ratings comparison is the relative ratings between shows on the same network. How shows on ABC do is irrelevant to the future of CBS shows, regardless of what the PR Jedi would have you believe.

Do the relative C+3 ratings differ significantly from the relative Live+Same Day ratings?

Let’s see.

Here are the 2015 week 1 Live+Same Day and C+3 ratings for all broadcast scripted shows, along with their relative ratings within each network (calculated by dividing each show’s rating by its network’s scripted average).

 Live+SDRelative L+SD C+3Relative C+3% Change In Relative Ratings
ABC  
Last Man Standing1.10.631.30.675%
Nashville1.20.691.40.724%
Castle1.20.691.40.724%
Blood & Oil1.40.801.40.72-11%
Once Upon A Time1.81.0321.03-1%
Fresh Off The Boat1.91.0921.03-6%
Quantico1.91.092.31.188%
The Middle2.11.212.31.18-2%
black-ish2.41.382.81.444%
The Goldbergs2.41.382.61.33-3%
How To Get Away With Murder2.61.493.11.596%
Grey’s Anatomy2.81.6131.54-4%
The Muppets2.91.673.21.64-2%
Modern Family3.21.843.41.74-5%
Scandal3.31.903.92.005%
CBS  
Hawaii Five-010.471.20.5312%
NCIS: Los Angeles1.20.571.50.6617%
Blue Bloods1.30.611.50.668%
NCIS: New Orleans1.70.801.90.845%
Limitless1.90.902.31.0113%
Scorpion2.21.042.31.01-2%
NCIS2.51.182.61.15-3%
Life in Pieces2.61.232.51.10-10%
The Big Bang Theory4.72.214.62.03-8%
Fox  
Minority Report1.10.531.30.553%
Bob’s Burgers1.20.581.30.55-6%
The Last Man On Earth1.40.681.50.63-7%
Family Guy1.50.731.90.8010%
Brooklyn Nine-Nine1.50.731.60.68-7%
The Simpsons1.50.731.70.72-1%
Gotham1.60.781.90.803%
Scream Queens1.70.832.10.897%
Rosewood2.41.172.51.05-9%
Empire6.73.257.93.332%
NBC  
The Player1.20.651.30.64-1%
The Mysteries of Laura1.20.651.20.59-9%
Law & Order: SVU1.80.9720.981%
Heroes Reborn21.082.31.135%
Blindspot3.11.673.41.670%


If a show isn’t listed it either didn’t air in week 1, or isn’t scripted.

The change in absolute ratings between Live+Same Day program ratings and C+3 commercial ratings is irrelevant to the reaper’s prediction process. What would matter is significant changes in the relative ratings between shows within each network using the two different metrics.

And as you can see, the change in the relative ratings for shows between Live+SD and C+3 is, in most cases, insignificantly small (few reach +/- 10%).

The reaper misses a handful of his predictions each season, but his misses aren’t usually caused by his ratings related calculations being “off” by a little bit. Misses are almost always due to a lack of non-public information (typically, a show’s relative syndication situation).

Contrary to what the network PR Jedi would have you believe, Live+Same Day commercial ratings are a fine proxy for the C+3 Day commercial ratings that advertisers pay for.

TLDR: The relative Live+Same Day program ratings for shows in each network are very close to their relative C+3 day commercial ratings.

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