The DVR’s huge impact on this season
Usage is up, leading the networks to hold off on axing new shows
October 12, 2012
But despite much lower ratings for this fall’s new shows, just one, “Made in Jersey,” has been yanked. And that may be a trend that continues for the foreseeable future.
What’s holding the networks back is DVRs.
This year, with DVRs now in an all-time high 46 percent of households, time-shifted viewing is higher than ever before.
New shows are seeing bumps of 50 percent or more from three-day DVR playback, meaning that roughly a third of the show’s audience is watching on a time delay.
It’s an audience the networks can’t ignore, since advertising is sold based on commercial ratings including three-day DVR playback.
And so they’re waiting longer to make a judgment on a show’s future so that they can consider its DVR ratings in the equation. It takes several days to get the L+3 numbers and three full weeks to receive the seven-day playback data from Nielsen.
“I do think DVR playback not only is delaying a network’s decision on the fate of the program, it takes a little longer to evaluate the ratings performance of programs, especially the lower-rated ones,” says Brad Adgate, senior vice president of research at Horizon Media.
A show like Fox’s “Mob Doctor,” which fell to a mere 0.9 adults 18-49 rating on Monday, or NBC’s “Animal Practice,” which ranked 70th on broadcast last week, might not have made it past two episodes in past years.
But the networks are waiting to see what sort of time-shifting numbers shows get. They’ve already handed out several full-season orders to programs that, in past years, might have been on cancellation watch if not for their strong DVR bumps.
NBC picked up “The New Normal,” which averaged a 2.0 rating last night, after the show saw a DVR increase of 41 percent for its first episode.
And Fox gave full-season orders to “Ben and Kate” and “The Mindy Project,” both of which have been under a 2.0 rating the past two weeks, after they both saw bigger DVR bumps in their second weeks.
Still, once the networks have gotten enough DVR data to pour over, the axe will fall, and three shows are looking most likely for the next cancellation at this point.
One is “Mob,” which is going on a brief hiatus while Fox airs postseason baseball. If it doesn’t perk up upon its return, it will undoubtedly get the axe.
“While it appears Fox is tweaking ‘Mob Doctor,’ the ratings are disappointing especially when compared to last season’s ‘Terra Nova,’ albeit that show was a lot more expensive to produce,” Adgate says. “’Mob Doctor’ also has a relatively older audience profile, a little unusual for a first-year show on Fox.”
Another endangered show is “Practice.” NBC’s decision earlier this week to hold the premieres of “Community” and “Whitney” until later this season was widely seen as an indication that one of those shows will be called on to take “Practice’s” place on Wednesday.
The other program is, surprisingly, on CBS, which usually has the most stable new shows.
“Partners” has been a huge disappointment at 8:30 p.m. Mondays, proving a weak link in CBS’s otherwise stellar comedy lineup.
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