Tuesday, March 3, 2009

DVR Ratings

I just read an article that was talking about how surprised people are at how many viewers Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles and Dollhouse are picking up on DVR. I mean, isn't this a no brainer? You have two shows on Friday nights that cater to the geek audience, who are the people who know how to program their DVR's and watch shows online.

You think it'd be easier to track the number of viewers on something like Hulu, but instead the Nielsons still use this antiquated sampling system.

It's be funny to joke about how backward they are if this bad system didn't have real consequences. When a show airs Friday night there are executives looking over the ratings on Monday morning, and those ratings don't include DVR or online views. Those are the guys who decide if a show will be canceled or not, and often they're also the guys who approve of the shows that go on the air in the first place. If they're basing their decisions on incorrect data, they're going to make the wrong decisions.

This is why TV tends to cater to a less sophisticated audience a lot of the time. American Idol doesn't get DVR'd as much because people want to talk about it the next day, it's an event, so it does great in ratings. Shows that can be watched at leisure over the weekend, which are popular with people who have other things going on in their lives at night (especially during the Friday Night "death slot") don't do as well in the ratings and get canceled.

I really hope this system gets fixed soon, and not just because I want better options for the TV shows I watch. I'm living in Hollywood and trying to become a TV writer. I'd like it if we had a better system by the time I'm able to create a show.

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