Raising The TV Revenue Metric

The season is only a few days old for some TV networks -- plenty of time to test your TV knowledge:  Which of these shows grabs the most viewers? The CW's "Gossip Girl," TNT's "Raising the Bar" or AMC's "Mad Men"?

"Gossip Girl"? Wrong. It had only around 3 million viewers in its season premiere episode. "Mad Men"? Wrong again, it only delivers about half that amount, so far.  The surprise winner is TNT's "Raising the Bar" with 7.7 million viewers in its series premiere (the same night as "Girl"), making it "ad-supported cable's biggest series launch of all time."
Big publicity and marketing campaigns are sometimes inversely proportional to the ratings delivered -- much to the chagrin of TV marketers. That said, I'm sure the folks at CW are happy as punch -- especially as "Gossip Girl" posted some of its best numbers ever for the show, all of which has contributed to giving CW literal breathing space as an ongoing network.

Even with smallish ratings as compared to other cable networks originals, AMC will point to healthy ratings versus its own history.  Finally, Turner folks will argue that "Bar" was given a blinding amount of TV promo time during other successful TNT shows like "The Closer" and "Saving Grace."

Not only that - but there is a "hair" marketing aspect. Steve Koonin, president of Turner Entertainment Networks, said it was a deliberate marketing decision for the lead character on the show -- played by Mark-Paul Gosselaar -- to have long and floppy, ‘70s-style hair - all an attempt to grab a young audience for TNT.

Still, did Entertainment Weekly get it wrong to put "Gossip Girl" on the cover of a recent issue - instead of the mixed-reviewed, Steven Bochco-produced TNT legal drama? One could argue that. To its defense, it's tough to keep pace with the public tastes -- or lack thereof.  No matter. None of this stuff is a good measure of success.

What's missing here doesn't have to do with ratings, demographics, set-top boxes data, influence, or engagement. It's revenue.

How much money are these shows making -- gross or net?  That should be the new (or newly revealed) TV metric. Is "Gossip Girl" making a profit of $1 million an episode -- or running at a deficit? How many advertising dollars and cable subscribers' fees are contributing to "Raising the Bar" per episode? What is the actual trickle down AMC gets from "Mad Men" in terms of dollars and cents?

Look to the movie studios' box office revenue data for clues. Those consumer retail dollars are happily disclosed by studios.  The closer we get to real TV metrics -- the metric of TV money - the better and clearer for everyone.



Next story loading loading..