CBS Is the First Network to Share Some (but Not All) of Nielsen’s Total Content Ratings Data for Its Shows

Gets 54% boost in live-plus-35, but digital numbers weren't included

The Big Bang Theory added 9.8 million viewers over its live-plus-same-day audience in CBS's new TCR metric.
Michael Yarish/Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.

Nearly a week after Nielsen started letting networks publicly share their Total Content Ratings multiplatform metrics, CBS has become the first network to do so. The network released some of its TCR live-plus-35 data through week 13 of the season and said its TCR ratings grew an average of 54 percent from their live-plus-same-day numbers.

But CBS’s TCR numbers come with a major caveat: They only include linear viewing on VOD and DVR platforms and not any digital viewing via the network’s website, app or CBS All Access streaming service. CBS said the online and mobile viewing metrics are “still in development” and will be added shortly when they are available from Nielsen.

TCR combines four different ratings metrics from Nielsen: traditional linear TV ratings, digital in TV ratings (content consumed via computers or mobile devices that has the same national linear ads), VOD content ratings (VOD content through the TV including subscription VOD services, with either a different ad load than linear or no ad load at all) and digital content ratings (content consumed across digital platforms with either a different ad load than linear or no ad load at all).

The numbers released by CBS, however, omit the digital platforms, which essentially removes the “total” from Total Content Ratings.

Still, with the expanded data, the network said its series were watched by an average of 13.4 million viewers in live-plus-35, compared with  8.7 million average  live-plus-same-day viewers and 15 percent higher than its live-plus-7 average of 11.6 million.

In the 18-49 demo, CBS’s TCR rating was 2.4, a 71 percent increase over its live-plus-same-day rating of 1.4.

“Once digital measurement is added in the near future, we expect another bump in our viewership numbers, especially given the rapid growth and success of our digital platforms, [including CBS All Access and its CBS app],” said David Poltrack, chief research officer at CBS Corp. and president of CBS Vision, in a statement.

“This brand new data is a potentially very valuable media planning tool for our clients and their agencies. It certainly adds a new dimension to an advertiser’s program selection process, as well as more clarity about the true incremental viewing that is of enormous and increasing value in today’s changing landscape,” Poltrack continued.

The numbers released by CBS, however, omit the digital platforms, which essentially removes the “total” from Total Content Ratings.

CBS’s live-plus-35 TCR numbers gave The Big Bang Theory a 67 percent increase above its live-plus-same-day audience, jumping from 14.6 million to 24.4 million viewers—the 9.8 million lift is the most of any CBS show. NCIS increased 43 percent, from 14.9 million to 21.3 million viewers. Bull jumped 56 percent, from 12.5 million to 19.5 million. Blue Bloods added 6.4 million viewers, a 63 percent jump to 16.4 million. And NCIS: New Orleans was CBS’s No. 5 show in live-plus-35, with 15.5 million viewers, a 59 percent increase from 9.7 million in live-plus-same-day.

The network saw jumps in excess of 80 percent from two of its shows when live-plus-35 numbers were added. Elementary’s audience increased 84 percent to 9.5 million viewers from 5.1 million, and Code Black jumped 83 percent, from 5.9 million viewers to 10.8 million.

The Great Indoors had the smallest percentage lift, according to the new metric, increasing 25 percent from 7.4 million to 9.3 million. And The Odd Couple, last on the list of CBS’s 22 shows in live-plus-35, added just 1.7 million viewers, a 35 percent jump, to get to 6.4 million.

The complete list of CBS’s TCR metrics is available here.

Nielsen had initially planned to make its TCR metrics available to all Nielsen clients on March 1 but modified its plans after several media companies led by NBCUniversal’s chairman of advertising sales and client partnerships, Linda Yaccarino, asked Nielsen to put the brakes on the rollout. In January, the broadcast presidents told Adweek they wanted Nielsen to get things “right” and delay TCR’s release.

After the pushback, Nielsen changed its plans and gave TCR a “limited commercial release” on March 1. Individual publishers could choose to share their own data externally with media, agencies or for other business purposes but would not be able to release any data from competitors. Nielsen will then make that same information available to agencies.

(GroupM, meanwhile, is pushing ahead with its own cross-platform ad measurement efforts.)

The networks are eager to start using TCR, and Nielsen’s entire total audience measurement platform. CBS Corp. chairman and CEO Leslie Moonves said on an earnings call in February that “fully measuring and monetizing the value of every single viewer represents terrific upside for us. … There is no question, when we talk to advertisers, everybody is looking at a more complete picture, and that only means more viewers and more revenue for us.”

But buyers see TCR as a planning tool—not a buying one. “It’s a step forward, and any granular measurement beyond what we have now is useful,” David Cohen, president, North America, Magna Global, told Adweek in February. “Is it a currency? It isn’t. Is it going to help from a planning and contextual perspective? Yes, it will.”

Nielsen said that as clients get up to speed with the new data and start to identify new viewing patterns that emerge when all multiplatform viewing is factored in, the metrics will help programmers and buyers alike. “This is all going to take time to work through,” said Glenn Enoch, svp of audience insights at Nielsen. “But we’re at the starting gate.”