Ratings are NOT Black and White

There are many other factors that weigh into television ratings, sometimes making renewals and cancellations unpredictable until the last minute. Here are some of the factors:

Friday Ratings: There are less people in the larget demographic sitting at home watching TV on a Friday night than on weekdays, as rather they go out and DVR the shows. Therefore, Friday shows are often cheaper to make and are not held to the same ratings standards as a Sunday-Thursday show is.

Cost: As shows age, they tend to cost more. One such reason is since ratings are implied to be well enough for the show to keep getting renewed, the cast members all lobby for higher pay. Therefore, it may become unprofitable to continue running a veteran show even if it rates around the network average. Such an example is the popular sitcom Friends, which ended in 2004 after all main cast members negotiated to make $1 million per episode. Others include shows like Terra Nova and Almost Human, which were quickly cancelled despite average ratings because of the high costs of the special effects. Cost is often in benefit of cheap reality shows such as Wipeout and America’s Funniest Home Videos, a ratings do not have to be on par with the scripted average in order to turn a decent profit.

RELATIVE Ratings: When deciding which shows will be renewed or cancelled, a network compares to the ratings of one show to those of other shows on the network, and NOT those on another network. This is especially applicable to The CW, which as a struggling new network with only one show—The Flash—garnering ratings that may be seen to be acceptable on all the others.

The Show Runner: Networks often give some of the best treatment to the shows created by show runners who have historically been loyal in creating hits for the network. For example, NBC has Richard Wolf to credit for Law & Order: SVU, Chicago Fire, and Chicago PD; ABC has Shonda Rimes associated with Gray’s Anatomy, Scandal, and How to Get Away with Murder; FOX has Seth MacFarland for hits like Family Guy and Gordon Rampsey for various cooking shows; and CBS has Chuck Lorre for hits such as The Big Bang Theory and Mom.

Which Raings Count?: Only the viewing habits of a Nielsen family, selected statistically with a diversity in age group, gender, and race, count. So, if you are a Nielsen Family ONLY, the following information applies:

If you are streaming your shows online or watching them on DVR well after the air date, you are not contributing to the ratings of your shows. If you are within the age group of 18-49 and your show is on the fence for renewal and cancellation, watch every effort to watch the show live. Television is a business, and therefore renewals and cancellations are based on who watches the advertisements in the target demographic. It is assumed that people who DVR the show skip over the commercials, and therefore they are not counted in the ratings. HOWEVER, DVR numberd can indedd give the networks inside information. For example, if a show grows heavily in its DVR numbers, it can be interpreted as a sign that people indeed are watching the show but the time slot is not in the show’s favor. This can be a sign that the show needs to be removed from the time slot and switch to one where there is not ss much direct competition (i.e if show is a comedy but airs against two others, it most likely shares an audience and therefore many viewers may watch one show live and DVR the other).


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