''American Idol'' Sings From the Humble Expectations Songbook
The fourth season of the popular amateur singing contest show rocketed to Fox's third-best rated non-sports program ever.
The gift was from Gail Berman, Fox Entertainment president, who said the day before to expect a drop in ratings for the big network show. Given any four-old-year series, Berman made a reasonable assumption. No doubt national TV advertisers did the same.
The huge 14.0 ratings/33 share in the adults 18 to 49 demographic was 9 percent higher than the third installment debut of the show - and probably around 20 percent more than national advertisers estimated going into the new season.
Rare are the times TV shows deliver more on their ratings guarantee promise to advertisers. It is rarer still when this comes from an established show with a predictable ratings track.
While most news accounts reported on Fox's estimates, few took the time to weigh in with advertisers' estimates on the show.
Of course this is good news/bad news for Fox - something also not alluded to in press accounts. Over-delivery of ratings means - technically -- that Fox left money on the table with advertisers, that it should have charged more.
Still, TV is not an exact science.
A majority of the time advertisers have to deal with network under-delivery of ratings points and make-good inventory that goes with it. Performances such as "American Idol" kind of even things out, especially for those Fox advertisers who have suffered with the network in its usual fourth quarter doldrums.
For Berman, the nice news is that she humbly builds up goodwill among advertisers.
Just like an "American Idol" unexpected talent such as Clay Aiken -- it's good to under-sell and over-deliver.