Commentary

Including Sports In Ratings Totals: It's All TV, Isn't It?

All TV networks want to massage their story this time of year, considering their season-ending average ratings.

Show your best side, after all.

Some networks might foster the idea of how well they are doing if they exclude specific programming -- say, sports programming.

In the big picture, this would mean of course, the Super Bowl -- which can now totally change the fortunes for a particular TV network that has it in any given season -- as well as those with regular season prime-time NFL packages.

TV networks sometimes like to have it both ways: They may want to exclude sports programming when someone else has the Super Bowl (as CBS wanted to last year, when NBC had the honors, though this year it sure wanted the big game included) and then include other TV impressions -- such as time-shifted viewing after three days (sometimes up to 35 days) in VOD, digital media and other viewing/usage metrics.

Okay. But let’s not stop there with the adjustments: What if networks excluded say, scripted comedies, dramas, or reality shows, or rerun programming?  

How about deleting those 10 p.m. network prime-time periods, now suffering from low ratings? How about excluding all shows with the word “super” or “Chicago” in the show title?

Back to sports: Big broadcast networks probably need a sports TV package in this growing live programming environment where those programs can demand premium advertising pricing.

The TV ratings race and season-ending press releases seems like a vestige of days gone by,  especially when virtually everyone’s traditional TV ratings continue to decline.

Maybe TV networks needs to consider looking at an entire TV viewing season -- even if all newfound viewing metrics aren’t perfect. Nielsen isn’t helping you -- or won’t in the future? Too bad. Figure out another way.

And then do this: Compare your entire TV viewership to what you had a year ago, not to your competition.

You have to hand it to CBS -- in part: It touted winning total viewers, 18-49 viewers, and 25-54 viewers -- in that order. All of which is in line with what many futurists have discussed, that age and gender Nielsen demographics are of decreasing importance overall.

Still, no secret here: Sports TV programming has always been television programming. And even though it has somewhat different advertisers and TV ad categories who buy into it, it’s still TV — and increasingly more valuable.

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