How to save TV.

I figured it out.  I’m sure I’m not the first one to do so, but it finally hit me like a ton of bricks tonight.  How to save TV.

Social networking.

So I’m on Twitter, and I decide to glance at the trending topics, which get listed to the right of the tweet feed.  Nearly every trending topic is a tv show tonight.  HOUSE.  HEROES.  DWTS (Dancing with the Stars).  GOSSIP GIRL. MNF/Monday Night/Dolphins (all trending).

This isn’t new.  It’s been happening for awhile, but is just really apparent now.  If you are going to be engaged in social networks AND watch TV, you have to watch live.  Or, pretty close to it.

I found this out first hand when I DVR’d an episode of TRUE BLOOD one night, and I was on Twitter to ask about something totally unrelated.  Of course, I had to do so while TRUE BLOOD was airing, so I kept seeing tweets from people watching the show in real time.

The Emmys last night.  In some ways, almost didn’t need the show — or at least, being time delayed on the west coast, I could at least tell what parts I might want to skip through quickly due to the boredom that was coming from the tweets I was seeing at various times.

Fox, I think, has figured this out, and now reruns GLEE and FRINGE with live tweeting (from writers or actors) on Saturday nights.  I doubt it moves the needle much on either show, but it’s an intriguing idea.

So all of this to say, how do you bring people back to TV?  Through the internet, strange as that seems.  There is still a desire for collective experiences out there, and facebook or twitter help with that in a way that could only be achieved through viewing parties or at sports bars.

This…this means something.

Posted under analysis

This post was written by Shawna on September 21, 2009

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What hath DST wrought?

So, as expected, daylight savings time is ravaging tv ratings. The #1 network last night (CBS) averaged less than 10 million viewers. And it isn’t even summer yet!

Oh and Hulu goes live finally on March 12. I’ve been a beta user for a few months, and I have to say, it isn’t too bad. I’ve watched quite a few clips from SNL, some older episodes of tv shows (Mr. T!! A-Team!) and I plan on watching “Journeyman” episodes on there to catch up, you know, just in case…

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This post was written by Shawna on March 11, 2008

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How the new series fare so far…

(For Nielsen coverage in full, check out Mark Berman’s Programming Insider column daily.)

New Show Debut Ratings from last week:

Private Practice (ABC) – Wed. 9 p.m.
Viewers: 14.41 million (#13), A18-49: 5.2/13 (#10)

Bionic Woman (NBC) – Wed. 9 p.m.
Viewers: 13.91 million (#16), A18-49: 5.7/14 (#8)

Big Shots (ABC) – Thurs. 10 p.m.
Viewers: 11.10 million (#29), A18-49: 4.5/12 (#20t)

Dirty Sexy Money (ABC) – Wed. 10 p.m.
Viewers: 10.44 million (#31), A18-49: 3.6/10 (#32t)

Life (NBC) – Wed. 10 p.m.
Viewers: 9.95 million (#34), A18-49: 4.0/11 (#27)

The Big Bang Theory (CBS) – Mon. 8:30 p.m.
Viewers: 9.52 million (#37), A18-49: 3.7. 9 (#30t)

Chuck (NBC) – Mon. 8 p.m.
Viewers: 9.21 million (#42), A18-49: 3.6/ 9 (#32t)

Journeyman (NBC) – Mon. 10 p.m.
Viewers: 9.16 million (#43), A18-49: 3.5/ 9 (#35t)

Moonlight (CBS) – Fri. 9 p.m.
Viewers: 8.54 million (#47), A18-49: 2.5/ 8 (#55t)

Reaper (CW) – Tues. 9 p.m.
Viewers: 3.28 million (#85), A18-49: 1.5/ 4 (#76t)

So far this week, “The Big Bang Theory” held most of its audience from last week, and “Chuck”, “Journeyman” and “Reaper” have on par numbers. “Cane” last night had better ratinigs than “Smith” in the time period a year ago. I say it will hold on for a few weeks. So far this bunch of shows look relatively stable.

“Cavemen” and “Carpoolers” last night bowed to unspectacular numbers. Both shows managed a 6.5/10 and a 6.3/10 in the fast nationals. This will probably put them in the top 50 shows of the week, but I don’t expect those ratings to hold next week. Both shows were painful to watch.

There are articles all over the web detailing how increased DVR usage impacts the ratings this year. Nielsen has not yet published the live +3 and live +7 day ratings which include the DVR usage. Last year, DVR penetration was at about 8.5%. This year it is estimated to be more than double that, to 19%. 19% of households is roughly equal to 22 million households. That is a significant amount for the ratings picture and could catapult some shows from decent numbers to hit status once the DVR viewership is factored in.

Of course, the advertisers aren’t so sure that people using DVRs are seeing their ads (probably not) so they are probably going to take the live +3, live +7 ratings with a grain of salt…

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This post was written by Shawna on October 3, 2007

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TV Junkie on the air at 4 PM PDT today

I’ll be talking about Nielsen ratings — what they are, how to decipher them, and the impact that a 19% DVR penetration this season (vs. 8% last year) will have on the ratings for primetime.

Podcast will be available here after the live broadcast.

** CANCELLED DUE TO TECHNICAL DIFFICULTIES ** We’ll try again next week.

Posted under blogs

This post was written by Shawna on September 30, 2007

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Decent premiere numbers from ‘Kid Nation’ & ‘Kitchen Nightmares’

If you want the latest and greatest on the overnight ratings, visit The Programming Insider Forum daily, about noon Eastern, 9 AM Pacific for the numbers.

Kid Nation underperformed somewhat, considering all the hype. Gossip Girl was nearly a bomb, losing a significant amount of America’s Top Model lead-in audience.

Back to You and Kitchen Nightmares were well sampled on Fox.

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This post was written by Shawna on September 20, 2007

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Time Bandits

Time-shifting. It’s all the rage. Many refer to the practice as ‘TiVoing’ or ‘DVRing’ or heck, even the antiquated and totally inaccurate ‘taping’. What it is is digitally recording a program and replaying it at a later time (and if you are like me, gleefully skipping through the commercials).

For the networks, it’s an interesting trend and a dilemma.

Read this USA Today article for details, but I’ll pull out one bit:

For some shows, time-shifting accounts for most of the falloff. Last year at this time, only 5% of the homes in Nielsen’s sample had the recording devices; now 15.8% do. That has sparked a wider gap between ratings for shows watched live — the only yardstick used by Nielsen last year — and those watched within seven days of their initial airing.

“If you look at live plus seven-day viewing, those declines for several shows start to vanish,” says Fox’s Preston Beckman. Lost lost 14% of its live viewing this season, but when time-shifting is factored in, the show is down only 1%. The Office, down 10%, is actually up 2% with delayed viewing included.

“We can’t really examine things in the same mind-set that we did a year ago,” ABC research chief Larry Hyams says.

You ask “what does this have to do with writing for TV?” EVERYTHING. The networks are still the primary source for scripted series, drama and comedy. While there is certainly a gain in the number of cable shows, most people are still going to be looking to the networks for signs of where the jobs will be. The DVR revolution is coming. To go from 5% to 15% of households using DVRs is enormous. If this pace continues, Nielsen will have better luck measuring the viewership of test patterns.

Already Nielsen has reacted to this new trend and is attempting to develop new ways to measure ratings for shows, based on timeshifting. The problem is with the advertisers, not the networks.

The advertisers believe (mostly rightly) that people who record shows to watch later are skipping through the commercials to watch the program. If you aren’t watching commercials, there’s no reason to advertise. If there’s no reason to advertise, networks lose money. If networks lose money…well, I think you see where this is going.

Keep an eye on this. Some people are considering this the ‘tipping point’ for networks focusing more on content for the internet or VOD. We’ll only know by looking back on this time, but for now, we must all be aware of the changes to the status quo.

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This post was written by Shawna on April 25, 2007

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