Blackouts Impact On Ratings Takes Guesswork

If the Time Warner Cable blackout is hurting CBS, there is at least one figure offering striking evidence to the contrary. By one measure, household prime-time ratings on Tuesday were down a mere 2% in the New York market. After that, though, things aren’t as rosy.

Helped by “Person of Interest” unexpectedly jumping 21%, the Big Apple's WCBS was able to offset drops with “NCIS” and “NCIS: LA” to average a 3.6 on Tuesday, which amounted to that slight decline compared to the previous pre-blackout Tuesday.

But there are plenty of other figures indicating CBS-owned stations off the air in Time Warner Cable homes during a fee dispute are suffering.

In Los Angeles, there was no “Person of Interest” increase to the rescue for KCBS on Tuesday as household ratings dropped 15% to a 2.3. At KTVT in Dallas, ratings plummeted 27% to a 2.8 for the night.



Also on Tuesday, “NCIS” fell by double-digit numbers in all three markets, down 10% in New York, 16% in Los Angeles and 28% in Dallas.

The New York, Los Angeles and Dallas markets are most impacted by the blackout as far as number of homes affected.

On Monday, CBS saw its household prime-time average in New York fall 11% to a 3.9 -- using Monday-over-Monday figures. WCBS was hurt by a 15% drop for hit “Under the Dome” to a 6.3.

Still, some of that decline might be attributable to having to compete against the final “Bachelorette” programming on ABC. “Under the Dome” was down 11% nationally in households.

Even so, it fell 53% to a 2.3 in Los Angeles and dropped 30% in Dallas to a 5.9.

Overall, though, the CBS station in New York appears to be weathering the blackout better than its cousins in L.A. and Dallas. KCBS had a higher 22% drop on Monday to a 2.0, while KTVT fell 15% to a 4.1.

There were some bizarre performances for the CBS two-hour comedy block on Monday as some individual shows actually saw increased ratings on the stations.

In New York, “How I Met Your Mother” rose 41% to a 2.4. In L.A., a “Mike & Molly” episode was up 42% to a 1.7. And in Dallas, “How I Met Your Mother” was up 27% to a 3.8. The jumps occurred even as the shows went against the final “Bachelorette” programming on ABC.

Still, local-market ratings often produce wide swings with relatively small sample sizes used to glean ratings.

Of course, there are multiple factors that determine the impact of the blackout, perhaps starting with how many homes in each market are affected. Time Warner Cable won't say, though CBS says 3.2 million are impacted across New York, Los Angeles and Dallas combined.

Then, there are matters such as news and sports events in specific markets that draw viewers away. For example, on Monday, the regional sports network with the New York Yankees posted strong numbers in New York with the return of Alex Rodriguez.

Also, there are the American TV consumers, whose behavior is so hard to divine. They are true persons of interest and always will be.
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