Just days after reiterating his advocacy for a more inclusive ratings currency, CBS Corp. CEO Les Moonves told investors that he wants to expand beyond the proposed C7 stream.
Speaking Nov. 13 at an RBC Capital Markets media conference, Moonves said that CBS eventually aims to earn credit for 30 days of time-shifted viewing, noting that when the overall deliveries for a month of catch-up consumption are factored in, the ratings double the original live-plus-same-day results.
Moonves offered one of his own series as evidence—the underperforming Monday night drama Hostages is averaging just 5.39 million viewers and a 1.3 rating in the 18-49 demo, but when 30 days of DVR, streaming and on-demand deliveries are brought to bear, the show’s overall reach is north of 10 million viewers. But the same principle applies at the other networks.
Take, for example, Fox’s freshman supernatural drama, Sleepy Hollow. Already an unambiguous hit (thus far, the show is the only newcomer to earn a renewal this season), Sleepy delivers a lot of viewers who aren’t being counted under the current C3 scheme.
Per Nielsen, Sleepy’s multi-platform audience (22.7 million total viewers) represents a 103 percent increase versus its L+SD average, and while the DVR accounts for the lion’s share of those additional eyeballs, VOD and streaming sweeten the pot. Together, the two platforms that do not allow for commercial avoidance account for 3 million bonus deliveries.
These are 3 million people who are actually watching the commercial messages; provided that the ads in question aren’t time sensitive (movie trailers, sales, promotions, etc.), one could argue that the delayed impressions are just as valuable as those that happen in real time.
Or as Moonves said last week: “If you show the advertisers that a person is really watching, that’s a good thing.”
That DVR viewers don’t watch many advertisements is supported by empirical evidence and simple arithmetic. For example, according to Nielsen L+SD data, the first five installments of Sleepy Hollow averaged a 3.0 in the dollar demo. Upon application of average commercial minutes plus three days of time-shifted viewing, or C3, Sleepy creeps up one-tenth of a ratings point to a 3.1.
Hostages is in the same boat. Per C3 data, the first five episodes improved a tick to a 1.5. Incidentally, NBC’s The Blacklist, which competes directly with Hostages in the Monday 10 p.m. time slot, shows the greatest improvement upon application of C3, jumping to a 3.5 in the demo from a L+SD 3.2.
Of course, all the additional deliveries in the world won’t provide a stay of execution for Hostages, which is currently ranked seventeenth among the season’s 24 new series. (CBS has bumped up the start date for the mid-season replacement Intelligence, scheduling the Josh Holloway sci-fi drama for a Jan. 13 time slot premiere. Intelligence was originally scheduled for a Feb. 24 debut.)
CBS will air the ninth installment of Hostages tonight. The limited series will close out on Jan. 6 with a special two-episode finale.