C3 Currency: Is It Time For Commercial Ratings To Get Reviewed?

More than in previous years, the drumbeat has grown louder for media sellers to consider what extended time-shifted viewing means.

Because time-shifting behavior has increased, it's not uncommon for a TV network to say its better performing shows have grown by 30% or 40% or more in program ratings after seven days. According to advertising agency RPA, the average program minute grew on average 16% after seven days versus its live airing in the 2009-2010 broadcast season.

Now that DVRs are in 40% of U.S. TV homes, there seems to be even more of a emphasis. CBS, for one, has not only been doing this but estimating the levels where shows will end up before the final calculations are in.



Program ratings are a different animal: interesting to follow, but not the currency by which national TV advertisers spend money. That is the C3 ratings: the average commercial minute of a live TV show airing plus three days of time-shifting.

There is the well-known fast-forwarding issue -- but at least one big media agency estimates this has lessened somewhat. Where estimates had the average viewer fast-forwarding through commercials 70% of 80% of the time, media agencies now say the stat is around 55% to 60%.

What's going on? Some muse that new technology owners aren't responding the way initial DVR owners used the machines. This may be like other technology trends that leave us scratching our heads, such as the fact that young mobile phone users' actual voice phone use now plays second fiddle to texting and other smartphone functions.

No one is pushing for changes in the now three-year-old C3 system yet -- but those numbers are changing. For example, commercial ratings after three days was 7% higher than its live-only commercial rating among 18-49 viewers, and 8% more after seven days (C7) in this past season. Those numbers are up versus the previous season, 5% after three days, and 6% after 7 days.

Others may be waiting for interim changes in metrics --- Nielsen merging its on-and-off-line video data, addressable advertising, etc. But one wonders if in two years time -- or even by the next upfront -- media sellers might push to make adjustments.

1 comment about "C3 Currency: Is It Time For Commercial Ratings To Get Reviewed? ".
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  1. Rob Frydlewicz from DentsuAegis, October 5, 2010 at 7:24 p.m.

    It turns out that I watch a good portion of commercials in playback mode because I often forget a show's been recorded!

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