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Agencies on Ratings Data: It's a C3 Way Tie

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NEW YORK The initial round of average commercial ratings data based on three-day-delayed viewing, released by Nielsen Media Research last week through its NPower proprietary service, affirmed predictions by the media agencies: C3 ratings would be much closer to live program ratings than to either live-plus-same-day or live-plus-three-day program stats.

"The data we saw is pretty much what we expected, so that's good news," said Lyle Schwartz, evp and director of broadcast research for Group M.

The bad news is the delay by Nielsen in getting the complete C3 data to the agencies and networks on tape, and the fact that clients will receive the premiere week data for the period Sept. 23-30 on Oct. 22.

The sequential releasing of broadcast TV ratings data has increased the workload of media agency research departments, which have had to compute ratings on a piecemeal basis.

"Having to wait 22 days from the week the programs air to get commercial ratings data is unacceptable," said Sam Armando, svp and director of video research at Starcom.

Nielsen rep Gary Holmes said collecting the C3 numbers is a complex process and that it takes a week for the seven-day DVR playback period to be over. "Then it takes us another week to process it. After we get the commercial occurrence data, we can load it into NPower in one day, but it takes another week to process that onto the tape and check the tape." Holmes added that Nielsen, which is owned by the same company as Adweek, is evaluating whether there is a way to get the tape out a little earlier.

Veteran CBS drama CSI had the most viewers watching its commercials under the C3 measurement, followed by ABC's Monday edition of Dancing With the Stars and its dramas Grey's Anatomy and Desperate Housewives. They were followed by Fox's House, CBS' Without a Trace, NBC's Heroes and Sunday Night Football, CBS' CSI: Miami and ABC Grey's spin-off Private Practice.

Steve Sternberg, evp of audience analysis at Magna Global USA, gleaned some C3 data from NPower which showed that "on average, for the five broadcast networks, C3 was just 1 percent lower than live program ratings for adults 18-49." He said ABC and Fox were the only networks to show higher ratings for C3 than live program ratings for the 18-49 demographic during the first week of the season.

According to Sternberg's analysis of the Nielsen data, NBC averaged a 3.5 live-program rating for the 18-49 demographic, a 3.8 live-plus-same-day program rating, a 4.0 live-plus-three-day program rating and a 3.5 C3 rating during premiere week.

ABC averaged a live-program rating of 3.5, a live-plus-same-day program rating of 2.8, a live-plus-three-day program rating of 4.0 and a C3 rating of 3.5.

CBS averaged a live-program rating of 3.0, a live-plus-same-day program rating of 3.2, a live-plus-three-day program rating of 3.5 and a C3 rating of 3.0.

Fox averaged a live program rating of 2.5, a live-plus-same-day program rating of 2.7, a live-plus-three-day program rating of 2.9 and a C3 rating of 2.5. The CW averaged a live-program rating of 1.0, a live-plus-same-day program rating of 1.1, a live-plus-three-day program rating of 1.2 and a C3 rating of 1.02.

Schwartz, who also analyzed NPower data, said that 10 percent to 15 percent of the broadcast prime-time viewing audience watched one or more of the network's premiere week shows via DVR.

Overall, Schwartz said, it appears that even with DVR viewing included, broadcast primetime viewing was down 7 percent to 9 percent compared to premiere week last season.