C3 Ratings: Premiere Week Falls Flat

A sneak peek at C3 ratings has the new season holding steady

The first batch of fall Nielsen C3 ratings has been processed, and while the numbers for many of the individual programs are less than encouraging, media buyers say there may be some positive results hidden in the data.

According to the seven days of currency data obtained by Adweek, the C3 numbers for Premiere Week (Sept. 24-30)—which blend average live commercial ratings and three days of DVR playback—were generally consistent with the original live-plus-same-day ratings. Front-runner NBC downshifted one-tenth of a ratings point upon application of C3, finishing the week with a 3.0 in the adults 18-to-49 demo while Fox was up a notch (2.5 from 2.4). That variance also held true for CBS (2.3, down from a 2.4 live-same-day rating) and ABC (2.3, up from 2.2).

On an individual program basis, the biggest gainers in C3 included two new series. NBC’s Revolution notched a 3.8 rating, up from the L-SD 3.4 and CBS’ Elementary delivered a 3.4, up from 3.1. On the other end of the narrow spectrum, ABC’s The Neighbors slipped two-tenths of a point to a 3.0. Meanwhile, the two lowest-rated debuts were unchanged in C3. Canceled after its second episode, CBS’ Made in Jersey was steady at a 1.1 rating while Fox’s The Mob Doctor drew a 1.3.

But for a few exceptions, the series launches didn’t exactly put up terrific numbers. That said, the aggregate data for the Big Four tells a much more positive story. While the L-SD deliveries for the 18-to-49 demo were down 19 percent versus the year-ago period, C3 brought that deficit down to a more manageable 11 percent.

Because last season was a bit of an outlier, it’s perhaps even more instructive to compare this year’s Premiere Week to that of 2010. “In terms of the stability that we saw, last year was a real anomaly,” said Amy Sotiridy, svp-director of national broadcast at Initiative. “2010 presented much more typical erosion patterns.”

While it’s premature to make any sweeping judgments about the state of broadcast television, the first sortie through the currency is still instructive. For instance, it appears that overall TV usage has slipped 5 percent, while time shifting now accounts for 25 percent of all viewing, up from 20 percent a year ago.

Only time (and client targets) will tell if discrepancies between guarantees and deliveries will trigger a make-goods stampede. “We’re just a week in,” Sotiridy said. “We need to wait for more data to accumulate before the full picture comes into focus.”