By Gary Levin, USA TODAY
DVRs are complicating the math in assessing the new TV season.
than in past years, data out Sunday shows startling increases for
sitcoms and dramas when same-day results are compared with viewing
delayed up to seven days.
In the official premiere week ending Sept. 30, ABC's Modern Family and NBC's new Revolution showed
the biggest numerical gains, each adding 2.9 million adults ages 18 to
49, the group most prized by advertisers (and the group most likely to
use DVRs). Close behind was CBS' Big Bang Theory, adding 2.4 million young viewers.
In percentage terms, the gain marked a 68% jump for Revolution's audience, 42% for Family and 38% for Bang. Among other top percentage gainers that week were NBC's Grimm (81%) and Fox's Fringe (64%).
The increases mirror similar gains among viewers of all ages: That same week, Revolution added 4.9 million million viewers, for a grand total of 14.1 million, while Modern
added 4.4 million for a cumulative audience of 18.8 million. Fourteen
shows added 3 million or more viewers. And with DVR data factored in,
CBS' NCIS (24.1 million) eclipsed Sunday Night Football (22.8 million) to rank as the week's top program.
growth in DVR usage, streaming and video on demand has sparked "a
gradual change in the dynamics of premiere week," says CBS research
chief David Poltrack. He says the industry has been fixated on
morning-after analysis of viewing patterns, which increasingly is
"misleading and unreliable. The bottom line is, you really can't assess a
season from this data until you get it all in."
But so far, NBC is the only network to gain viewers, thanks largely to The Voice (newly on in fall) and comparisons to a dismal start in 2011. Adventure drama Revolution, which follows The Voice on Mondays, is the top new series among younger viewers, and CBS' Elementary is a strong contender. But Made in Jersey has already been canceled, and Fox's Mob Doctor, ABC's 666 Park Avenue, CBS' Partners and NBC's Animal Practice and Guys With Kids are all thin ice.
shows in between, the analysis is complicated by the varied ways
viewers now have to try out new shows, as more networks offer episodes
online and on demand, even before their official premieres.
survey of 2,000 viewers by CBS, 42% said they'd tried out one or more
new shows on live TV, down from 53% last year; 45% had watched on a DVR,
up from 40%; 12% had streamed online, up from 4%; and 11% had watched
on demand, up from 2% who said so last fall. Poltrack says the panel
revealed its sampling of new shows is "almost identical" to last year's;
it's just that they're more often watching on different platforms.
are so many things now that collectively upset the sense of urgency" to
watch, says Fox chief Kevin Reilly. And that could be one reason
overall TV usage by adults ages 18 to 24 is down an alarming 13% from
last year. Those viewers, among TV's most fickle, are also most prone to
consuming TV on their own schedule.
As of this month, 45% of
homes have DVRs, up from about 43% a year ago. But while the rate of
growth has slowed, playback is now a bigger percentage of total
viewing.Fox's analysis of Nielsen data shows that, on average,
premiere-week scripted series gain 38% with seven-day DVR viewing
factored in, up from 28% last year, while network reality shows rise
20%, up from 15% a year ago.
Live sports, which are almost never
recorded for later viewing, and reality competitions, which are shifted
far less than scripted fare, are causing more viewers to record
less-pressing entertainment for later. And Tuesday is now the biggest
night for viewers to empty their DVRs after storing up shows during NFL
games on Sundays and Mondays. (Football regularly is the most popular
show on both nights.)
But early signs point to fewer breakout hits than last fall, when New Girl, CBS' 2 Broke Girls and ABC's Once Upon a Time opened with big audiences. With last week's DVR data not yet available, the late premiere of ABC's Nashville (9 million viewers) was merely passable; by CW's lower standards, Arrow, with 4 million, was strong.
Fox's new comedies Ben and Kate and The Mindy Project had soft ratings but were extended for full seasons anyway, joining Revolution, Normal and NBC's Matthew Perry sitcom Go On
with early votes of confidence. "We'll be steady with the things we
believe in," Reilly says. "We understand the marketplace has shifted,
and we realize if we're trying to nurture a (show) it will probably take
TV's top DVR gainers
New Nielsen data
shows bigger jumps than ever for many sitcoms and dramas when delayed
viewing on DVRs is factored in. Top premiere week viewership increases,
by percentage, among ages 18-49:
Grimm (Fri., NBC) +81%
Revolution (Mon., NBC) +68%
Fringe (Fri., Fox) +64%
Private Practice (Tue., ABC)63%
Glee (Thu., Fox) +63%
Hawaii Five-0 (Mon., CBS) +61%
New Girl (Tue., Fox) +54%
The Office (Thu., NBC) +52%
666 Park Ave (Sun., ABC) +52%
Up All Night (Thu., NBC) +50%
New Normal (Tue., NBC) +50%
Parenthood (Tue., NBC) +50%
Nielsen Co.; reflects percentage increase of viewership between live or
same-day viewing and total viewing up to seven days later, for episodes
airing during official premiere week, Sept. 24-30 (not all were