TV commercial ratings of prime-time shows closely followed the trend of live-plus-same-day program ratings for the first week of the season -- which have shown declines versus a year
ago. This year, commercial ratings -- in some cases -- outperformed live program ratings.
Both the C3 and live program ratings for the first week were down on average 17% versus the year before. The only network showing improvement was NBC, 11% higher among Nielsen 18-49 live program viewers than the year before.
C3 ratings, the currency for TV advertising deals, are the average of all commercial minutes through three days of live and time-shifted viewing. Generally, C3 has trailed that of live-plus-same-day program ratings by small viewer totals over the last several years. But that is no longer true for all networks.
For the first week, NBC was at a 3.0 C3 rating and a 3.1 live-plus-same-day prime-time program rating. CBS -- which witnessed the steepest drop of 23% -- had a 2.3 C3 number and a 2.4 live-plus-same-day program rating.
But Fox and ABC witnessed a different story with both their respective C3 rating higher than their live-plus-same-day program ratings. Fox, which was down 19% on its ratings measures, had a 2.5 average C3 number and a 2.4 live-plus-same-day program rating. ABC, down 21%, posted a 2.3 C3 rating and a 2.2 live-plus-same-day program rating.
Some of the shows with the biggest disparity between their C3 and live program-same-day ratings include NBC's rookie show "Revolution," which had a 3.8 C3 18-49 rating in the first week and a 3.4 18-49 live program rating. Fox's "Family Guy" had a 3.7 C3 rating and a 3.3 live program rating. CBS' "Elementary" had a 3.4 C3 rating and a 3.1 live program rating. ABC's "Last Resort" was at a 2.4 C3 number and a 2.2 live program rating.
Brad Adgate, senior vice president and corporate research director for media agency Horizon Media, believes the difference between the two numbers essentially means viewers may not be fast-forwarding through as many commercials as previously estimated.
CBS has estimated that zapping through TV ads has been dropping, now to just over 50%. Early projections of DVR use had put fast-forwarding of commercials as high as 70%.