Fox's Reilly Claims Nielsen Is Outdated, Pushes For Cross-Platform Metrics Acceptance

Pasadena, Calif. --  With many TV broadcasters continuing to suffer with weak viewership on their linear networks, TV executives continue to stress that live-only TV ratings shouldn’t be looked in a vacuum.  

Speaking at the Television Critics Association meeting here, Kevin Reilly, chairman of entertainment for Fox, says just analyzing Nielsen viewing metrics will see Fox flat in viewership this season, versus its position at the same time a year ago, when it was down nearly 20%.

But when all platforms are considered -- linear, video on demand, digital and otherwise -- Fox is up 8% in viewership for the season. For example, Fox shows via video-on-demand (VOD) gained 44% in viewership this past season, with streaming of Fox shows on Hulu 55% higher.

“Standard Nielsen [TV] measurement is outdated,” he says.

More importantly, he says, networks look further out to 30 days after a show’s original premiere on a linear network. Looking at all viewership after three days -- in terms of C4 ratings (commercial ratings after four days) -- viewership is up 17% this year; higher than the 13% gain last year versus 2011.

Better retention comes with digital platforms. Reilly says. For example, 60% of those viewers who start episodes on Hulu complete those episodes, which he calls strong data.

TV executives like Reilly credit and press TV business journalists to include or couch those numbers with other digital viewing data. Television development season? That should be a thing of the past. “R.I.P.” says Reilly. Fox is now in a full-year development of shows. For example, Fox has some 10 series in different stages of development and/or series prep, he notes.

Plus, Reilly wants to develop shows that will start or “seed” digitally and hopefully move to Fox networks. Fox agreed to a multi-year deal with comedy performing group The Lonely Island to develop comedy projects on digital platforms Hulu and Roku, with the goal to becoming a full series on Fox, FX, FXX and other networks.

“We can’t be in business of one size fits all,” says Reilly. “We are going where they ain’t ... You can’t do that when you have pilots.” Another example, coming on Fox, will be a new version of “24” called “24: Live Another Day” starting this summer.

With regard to TV advertisers' reluctance to buy advertising in the summer, Reilly adds: “It’s a fallacy. Advertisers want scripted shows in the summer.” Evidence of that? Reilly says cable programmers have been incredibly successful in the summer.



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