Are You A C3 Or C7? (Yes, It IS A Matter Of Time)

It’s no secret that you time-shift (a fancy term for recording and playing later) a lot of your favorite prime-time network and cable shows. You need to do this for two reasons: 1) Good shows are often up against other good shows at the same hour and you want to see both, and 2) when you fast-forward through the 18 or 20 minutes of commercials, you can watch an entire episode in about 42 minutes, saving lots of time for other important interests such as washing the cat, recaulking the bathtub and wondering if Angela Merkel ever called one of those pay-for-chat sex lines from her cell phone.

This time-shifting that you do is causing some friction between the broadcast and ad-supported cable networks and their advertisers. It seems they can't agree on how many days after the original air date of the shows that you should be counted in the show's ratings (which drives its ad pricing). Broadcast networks have been promoting their live-plus-seven-day prime-time ratings. For example, NBC’s says that “The Blacklist” (how come we never see real FBI agents as hot as Megan?) is the first show ever to add an additional 6-plus million viewers if you go from a live-plus-same-day audience headcount to live-plus-seven days, a 57.3% increase.



Problem with that is that the agencies don't want to count any further out than live-plus-three-days (known in the biz as C3). They say a lot of their ads are time-sensitive (certainly true of movie openings) and are designed and bought to move product in a hurry, meaning a few days, not a week. If you apply C3 to “The Blacklist,” there is only a 10.5% lift in ratings. Meaning the agencies don't care about the other 46% (or so) increase in time- shifted ratings that occur after three days.

Geez, see what a pain in the ass you are?  First you don't watch the show live -- and, if you do, you mute the commercials or flip over to a sports channel to kill time until the show resumes. Then you lollygag around and don't watch the show until four or five days after it airs, during which OF COURSE you fast-forward past the commercials. Hey, who wants to see stale commercials anyway?  This is America, whom can we blame?

We can blame DVR makers for giving us the capability of hooking a digital recording device up to our TVs. Or the cable and dish companies that rent us recording capabilities, some of which automatically skip the commercials for us -- why, thank you.. We could blame our spouses, who won't yield the remote when their favorite shows are up against ours (that selfish so-and-so!).


We can ask the broadcasters why they insist on extended pods of sometimes a half dozen or more ads (yep, we count show promos as ads, Sparkie) so that we hardly see more than four or five minutes of a show before yet another lengthy interruption.  Or the agencies who can't figure how to frequency-cap their ads so that we don't have to see the same one 46 times.

Frankly, I think that TV commercials in general have gotten better over the years (when they aren't trying to be sneaky and go "native" featuring characters from the show). But it would try the patience of Mahatma Gandhi to sit through nearly 20 minutes of ads every hour. Especially after you have seen them three or five or nine times before.

Such practices merely invite audiences to time-shift shows (even live sports) because the number and frequency of ads are simply maddening. So, you guys have a party deciding if C3 or C7 works for you, because you only have yourselves to blame.

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