This year, for the first time, NBC’s program-planning group did not have a prime-time grid to show its direct broadcast competitors -- say, where a 9 p.m. show runs against other 9 p.m. shows.
Here is a better context: “We are competing with every show that has ever aired everywhere,” says Jeff Bader, president, program planning, strategy and research, NBC Entertainment, speaking at the ARF OTTxScience event in Los Angeles.
One glaring example is a particular Tuesday night 10 p.m. time slot in March, when NBC’s high-rated “This Is Us” airs. Bader says the ninth-place show that night was “This is Us” for its DVR/time-shifted viewing. So it was NBC vs. NBC.
All to say, don’t fret -- or even read press reports -- about those small 1.0 ratings for 18-49 viewers of any current prime-time TV show on the networks.
Think about all platforms -- even the ones that aren’t necessarily measuring everything -- syndicated reruns, delayed viewing, virtual MVPDs, and every possible digital platform on various devices.
Bader says the new big wave of media and consumer data just adds to the decision-making process on whether to go ahead with a new show or re-up an existing show. And don't forget the scheduling of that show.
Some questions to ask: Does it have multiplatform success? Strong on VOD? DVR? Maybe good on Hulu. Top tier on digital?
Figuring out TV shows on TV is more than playing chess, or even three-dimensional chess, says Bader. It’s like Quantum Chess, where pieces can change identities. Want to make your pawn into a bishop? No problem. Competing players don’t know the identity of the pieces.
The good news: There is more work for TV research executives than ever before. The bad? Far fewer real answers and trends to understand.
Badeer says one answer is found in the way his kids inquire about when they can see shows. They don’t ask if they can “watch TV.” They ask if they can “watch.”