Where Are Networks' C3 Numbers? Look Harder

Don’t expect to see the networks releasing any C3 numbers -- the average commercial ratings plus three days of time-shifting viewing. Specifically, they’re focusing on live program ratings with three or seven days worth of time-shifting attached, rather than on live plus same dayratings. That’s because time-shifting numbers are a lot higher than other ratings. 

A small, but growing portion of deals, are also now being made with C7 data -- especially this year during the upfront advertising process set in June/July.

Four major English-language broadcast networks contacted by TV Watch either said they had no plans to release C3 ratings; said they would inquire about C3; or didn’t respond at all.

Why? We can only surmise: Live program/same day ratings don’t tell where their shows are eventually headed. Maybe there’s more to consider.

One also needs to factor in the irregular schedule of Nielsen releasing C3 data -- around a week and a half after the third day of time shifting. By way of comparison, live program/same day ratings are disclosed the next day.



Want to know what C3 ratings look like on a daily basis? It comes -- roughly -- in the form of live program plus same day ratings. That’s right. That’s the metric TV networks don’t want you to focus on.

Commercial ratings are not the end-all, be-all for TV networks when it comes monetization. For example, big broadcast networks/media companies get paid fees for their programming from cable networks, TV stations, international networks, and, increasingly subscription video on demand services.

To be fair, much is still changing -- as all time-shifting grows. Right now about 50% of U.S. TV homes have DVR -- but that level hasn’t changed much in recent years. This could be because digital streaming, in all its forms -- internet, video-on-demand, and others --- is on a quicker rise.

Brian Hughes, senior vp of audience analysis for Magna Global, says: “Eventually, it may progress to a point that live plus one or two days [of time shifting] will be a better proxy for average commercial minute ratings, but for now, live plus same day is the best predictor, and that is why we use them for all of our early reads of program performance.”

There are other TV metrics to observe, in groups or in isolation: social TV, time-shifting, video-on-demand, and/or digital video ad engagement? Nice guides for sure. But stick to where the dollars are headed for real direction.

1 comment about "Where Are Networks' C3 Numbers? Look Harder".
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  1. Nicholas Schiavone from Nicholas P. Schiavone, LLC, October 11, 2014 at 8:59 p.m.

    Look at all the Nielsen numbers again!

    Retiring Pat McDonough, Nielsen’s beloved SVP, is forced to defend TV Ratings Company while inscrutable CEO, Mitch Barnes, remains hidden in silence. perhaps he's never sold or bought a rating point? What is Nielsen hiding? We know what they are revealing. Time for the FTC to confront the ratings monopoly. Enough is enough.

    Nielsen’s oops: TV ratings wrong for new fall season

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