Good news for the first ratings week of the new season: Nielsen data for premiere week, the week ending 9/29, shows 12 network series gained at least 4 million viewers between their original air dates and seven days later (Live + 7), from delayed viewing DVRs or on-demand features. During last year’s premiere week, only two shows achieved that lift.
Though growth among homes with DVRs has slowed — 48% now have them — delayed-viewing activity is “significantly higher” than last year, CBS research chief David Poltrack tells USA Today. The gains are steepest among older folks slower to adopt the technology. “The world has definitely changed…if we get positive feedback from viewers and see substantial catch-up viewing, we know that audience is going to build. That’s the new strategy, and everybody’s doing it, particularly with shows that are in really tough time periods.”
The gains in catch-up viewing spells relief because it erases YOY declines for all four major networks based solely on same-day viewing.
Among top series, NBC’s The Blacklist jumped the most — 5.7 million viewers — from 12.6 million same-day viewers to 18.3 million over seven days. In its second week, Fox’s Sleepy Hollow, had the biggest percentage change, climbing 58% — from 8.6 million to 13.5 million — turning it from a modest success into a big hit.
Typically, the most popular series get the biggest lifts, and DVR activity always is higher during the first few weeks of a new season, as viewers try out new series while saving time for returning favorites. Saturday is the biggest day for DVR playback, noted the story.
Previously, “one thing that hurt all new shows was, it was hard to get sampled” amid lots of premieres and more cable competition, says Andy Donchin, director of media investments at ad firm Carat North America. “A longer viewership cycle permits that,” and allows more shows time to get traction. “We have no problem with networks getting credited for viewership outside the live broadcast.”
VOD, though still a small contributor, is factored into Nielsen ratings, now that most networks run the same commercials as they do on live TV — and prevent viewers from fast-forwarding through them. Networks already are paid by advertisers for viewership up to three days later; they’re now pushing for Live +7.