Roundup Of Year-End Research, Programming Questions

1.  Why is everyone so excited about Nielsen’s upcoming Total Audience Measurement?  For years, Nielsen has made efforts to measure audiences beyond the home, without being able to account for all in-home TV viewing. 

After promising for years that it was working on measuring VCR playback, Nielsen finally had to admit they couldn’t do it. Now, Nielsen is not able to measure DVR fast-forwarding through commercials. 

Many people still think C3 takes it into account, but Nielsen, and those of us who were in research departments at agencies or networks when the measurement was implemented, know that it doesn’t. I’ll believe they can accurately measure video viewing across platforms when they do so for what remains by far the largest chunk of the viewing pie, in-home TV viewing.

2. Speaking of C3, why not C30?  I noticed something interesting this year.  I have many more TV shows queued up on my DVR than ever before.  I intend to watch all of them, but only 10% or so within three days of their initial broadcast.  My wife and I like to watch at least two or three episodes at a time. We also decided that we will wait to watch some new shows until we find out whether they are renewed for next season. 



We have neither the time nor inclination to become involved with a new show that might not last long.  There are a few that have been canceled that I just deleted from my DVR. I suspect there are a lot more folks like us than people think, and a lot of TV viewing not be counted by measurement companies.

The only shows we watch live anymore are off-network series like Big Bang Theory on TBS, sports, award shows, and specials. 

3. TV might be everywhere, but is research?  There are many new types of viewing devices that I did not even know exist. My 16-year-old son just got a new one.  It’s a carrying case for his Playstation 4, with a built-in 19-inch TV screen.  He brings it from room to room within our house and carries it with him when we go out of town. 

He uses it to play videogames, watch Netflix and Hulu, and view football games through our DirecTV NFL Ticket subscription.  Clearly, this is an indoor mobile device, as it still needs to be plugged in.  I hope the research companies know about these new types of viewing devices and are measuring them. 

4. What can the broadcast networks learn from Empire’s success?  Well, it does not mean that viewers are looking for shows with more diverse casts — even though that may be true.  It does not mean that viewers want more shows about hip-hop or the music industry.  It does not mean viewers are looking for another Empire.

It means exactly the same thing that all the other hit shows mean.  Viewers are looking for well-written, innovative shows, with great casts that gel, and isn’t just a clone of something they’ve seen before ‚ unless it’s another NCIS or another CW DC superhero.  As is usually the case, most hits come as a surprise.  The next Empire is right around the corner, but we won’t know it until after it debuts. 

5. What is the best un-reported superhero sighting of 2015?  The Martian Manhunter appearing on Supergirl.  CBS and CW need to get together for a Flash/Arrow/Supergirl cross-over.

6. Does preseason buzz matter?The Sternberg Report  Premium Edition clearly illustrated that over the past 15 years, pre-season buzz has had virtually no impact on whether a new program became successful.  Just looking at this season so far, of the five broadcast series with the most buzz – The Muppets, Supergirl, Scream Queens, Blindspot, and Heroes Reborn – only one, Blindspot, can be considered successful.  Supergirl is borderline, having declined since its debut (but would be successful if CBS moved it to CW).
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