Why Wait? Same Day Ratings Are Next Best Thing to C3

While broadcast and cable networks want to wait until delayed viewing is counted before evaluating the performance of their programs, one media agency says the first batch of ratings is a pretty good indicator of whether or not a show will reach the right number of viewers for its clients.

Brian Hughes, senior VP, audience analysis practice lead at Magna Global, sees networks pushing live plus three ratings as soon as they're available and CBS projecting live plus seven ratings in their press release along with overnight results.

"Clearly, the intention is to demonstrate how much better ratings look after the additional playback has been added in — the trouble is that live plus three program ratings are a poor predictor of the C3 numbers that we still use for most of our TV deals," Hughes says.

For now, live plus same day program ratings come the closest to what those C3 ratings will be.

For example, during the second quarter ABC's live plus same day ratings among adults 18 to 49 was 1.4, which was closer to the C3 rating of 1.5 than the 1.8 live plus 3 rating.  Fox's live plus same day was exactly the same as its C3 rating at 1 .3, while its live plus 3 rating was 1.6.

"Eventually, it may progress to a point that live plus one or two days will be a better proxy for average commercial minute ratings, but for now, live plus same day is the best predictor, and that is why we use them for all of our early reads of program performance," Hughes said.