According to Nielsen's most recent season-to-date C3
broadcast daypart ratings, The CW has taken the biggest 18-49 demo rating
compared to last season in primetime, while CBS has suffered the largest
adults 25-54 demo hit in morning news. Meanwhile, ABC has taken the largest
percentage drop among women 25-54 in daytime and also among adults 25-54
in evening news. The Big Three networks are flat among adults 18-49 in late
C3, which includes live plus three day viewing of the
commercial minutes within shows, is the currency with which upfront sales buys
are made by the media agencies and guaranteed by the networks.
The CW is down 25% in its adult 18-49 primetime rating, to a
paltry 0.6, which is being beaten significantly or equaled by dozens
of cable networks each night. The only other broadcast network that is
averaging a primetime decline in the 18-49 demo under C3 measurement is ABC,
which is down 5% to a 2.1. Fox is up 4% to a 2.6 and CBS is also up 4% to a
2.5, while NBC is flat at 2.5.
What those numbers show is that advertisers who bought
primetime packages on the Big Four networks in the last upfront, for the most
part so far, should be getting their ratings' guarantees with not much need for
In morning news, the big success has been ABC's Good
Morning America, which is up 15% in the adults 25-54 "news audience" demo
from a 1.3 to a 1.5. It has surpassed last season's leader in the
demo, NBC's Today show, which is down 7% from a 1.5 to a 1.4. CBS
This Morning (which started the season as The Early Show) has
fallen 11% year-to-year in C3 from a 0.9 to a 0.8.
In daytime, all the networks are down, with ABC taking the
biggest declines among women 25-54, down 14% from a 1.4 to a 1.2. CBS and NBC
are both down 8%, CBS from a 1.3 to a 1.2 and NBC from a 1.2 to a 1.1.
In evening news, CBS News' switch to Scott Pelley replacing
Katie Couric has paid off in some increased viewership. CBS Evening News
is up 7% in the adults 25-54 demo to a 1.5 from a 1.4. ABC's World News
Tonight with Diane Sawyer is down 6% from a 1.6 to a 1.5, while NBC
Nightly Newswith Brian Williams is flat at 1.8.
In late night, The Big Three networks are all averaging the
same 0.6 18-49 rating they did last season at this time in C3.
As far as individual primetime programming goes, Fox's Family
Guy is the show most helped by C3 ratings, indexing 12% higher than its
live plus same day rating-a 3.4 compared to 3.1. Among the top 10
primetime shows, the highest percentage of growth with ratings in C3 compared
to live include Fox's Fringe ( up
11%, 1.12 vs. 1.01), NBC's Grimm (up 10%,1.57 vs. 1.43), Fox's Cleveland
Show (up 9%, 2.01 vs. 1.85), Fox's Bones (up 8%, 2.37 vs. 2.20), Fox's
New Girl (up 7%, 3.33 vs. 3.10), NBC's The Firm (up 7%, 1.06 vs.
0.99), Fox's Alcatraz (up 7%, 2.9 vs. 2.7), CW's Supernatural (up
6%, 0.73 vs. 0.68) and Fox's American Dad
(up 6%, 2.53 v. 2.39).
One item of note: Since these ratings are through
mid-February (there is a time lag for Nielsen in releasing C3 ratings), the
ratings slide of Fox's Alcatraz is not taken into account. Alcatraz live ratings are down to a 1.6
in the demo, so its C3 numbers have probably also declined.
"The shows that index best on C3 are scripted programs,
particularly animation and high-concept fantasy," says Billie Gold, VP,
director of buying and programming research at Carat. "The worst performing
shows in C3 are primarily news, reality programs and scripted reruns that air
outside of their regularly scheduled time periods."
Few of the highest indexing shows in C3 are entries
that could be considered hits.
"My theory is that people are interested in these shows, but
on a secondary level," Gold says. "They would rather watch something else live
in the time period but will watch these shows later in their downtime."
It's hard to escape observation that many of the shows-among
them, Fringe, The Firm, Alcatraz, Grimm and Supernatural-are facing cancellation, with many
factors contributing to their status.
"The reason some of these shows are on the cusp of
being cancelled is that even with the gains from DVR playback, their ratings
are still relatively low and production costs on these shows are sometimes too
high to justify keeping on," Gold says. "DVR gains at one point saved Fringe but now the ratings are too low
to save it. Also, a few of those shows are on Friday nights when people
aren't around to watch them live. But even with DVR viewing, they can't be
Beyond news and reality shows, the scripted series least
helped by C3 measurement are ABC's freshman drama Once Upon a Time,
which loses 9% of its audience in the demo (from 3.28 to 2.97) and The CW's Vampire
Diaries and 90210 which also under-index by 9%.
Losing 8% of their live plus same day audience with C3 is CW's
One Tree Hill.
Housewives, CW's Gossip Girl and
CBS's How I Met Your Mother and 2 Broke Girls lose 7% of their
CBS' The Big Bang
Theory loses 6% of its live demo rating in C3. ABC's Suburgatory and CBS' The Good Wife lose 5%, ABC's The
Middle, Modern Family and Happy
Endings, and CBS' NCIS lose 4%, and ABC's Grey's Anatomy
loses 3% of its 18-49 audiences going from live to C3.
In total, 40 scripted dramas and sitcoms and animated shows
see declines in their ratings from live plus same day to C3. Thirty-four
scripted shows see their ratings go up in C3, while 10 stay the same. Among
those 10 are CBS dramas NCIS: Los Angeles and Criminal Minds.
"The networks frequently tout the audience a show gains via
DVR viewing, but the agencies are usually not impressed by that," Gold says.
The C3 metric pretty well accounts for any DVR gains a program may achieve."