First comes the promotion, then reality sets in: the level of viewer satisfaction. Research from Marketing Evaluations, the firm behind the well-known Q Scores, has released their latest results -- and it contains a few surprises.
For example, part of NBC's expectation with "The Jay Leno Show" was that viewers would dip in and out. New data indicates that may be the case. Marketing Evaluations has "Leno" falling well below average in the devotion viewers hold for it.
Under a metric tabbed "Emotional Bonding Q," "Leno" posts an index of 60 -- meaning viewer commitment is 40% below the average of all prime-time shows.
"What's probably happening there is what usually happens in late-night -- where you get a lot of viewership focused on who the guests are, not so much the appeal of the host," said Marketing Evaluation's Henry Schafer, the former top research executive at ABC.
Even if Leno's monologue is a hit, "the guest appeal can't be as high every night," Schafer said.
The "Emotional Bonding Q" is derived from a survey of 1,600 people (ages 13-plus) who are asked a series of questions about likability, viewing frequency and dedication to watching future episodes. Answers are then slotted into an algorithm that produces a gauge on emotional connection with a show. An index is used, where 100 is the average.
Marketing Evaluations argues that a Q Score can be more valuable to an advertiser than a Nielsen rating, with passion trumping popularity.
While "Leno" is struggling, ABC drama "Flash Forward" scores best among new prime-time shows on the "emotional bonding" scale with a 139 -- nearly 40% above average. But indicating that ratings and "Q Scores" can be at odds, "Forward" is not a top-20 show among 18- to-49-year-olds.
CBS' "The Good Wife" follows "Forward" among new series with a 132. Next comes "NCIS: Los Angeles" at 116 and Fox's "Glee" at 114.
Fox's "The Cleveland Show" ranks sixth (107), although it is the highest-rated new show in the 18-to-49 demo. Two low-rated NBC dramas, "Mercy" and "Trauma," still beat the average with a 107 and 105, respectively.
A deeper connection with an audience can lead to higher commercial engagement. But it can also bring a bargain, Schafer said.
"The lower-rated show that has a high emotional bonding with its audience will tend to be priced lower than the higher-rated show," Schafer said. "That's just the way the business is. So if you're a media buyer and you want cost-effective buying with your clients' dollars, you [can] look for shows that connect strongly with viewers and still deliver a decent-sized audience."
Among returning series, ABC's "Brothers & Sisters" has the highest emotional-binding score at 136. (The show is not in the top 30 in the Nielsen 18-to-49 tally.) The drama is followed closely by CBS' "Survivor" and "NCIS" at 134. Fox's "fringe" comes in at 132. ABC's "Grey's Anatomy" and Fox's "House"-- the two highest-rated shows -- have Q Scores of 130 and 127, respectively. In the "emotional bonding" column, they come in tied for fifth and sixth.
This is Marketing Evaluation's second year of publishing "Emotional Bonding Q" scores. It's not clear how much the opportunity to watch a show online impacts a person's response on the dedication scale. But it is another reason that Marketing Evaluations believes traditional Nielsen ratings are not as important a factor for an advertiser as they once were.