Todays TV audiences are no longer passive viewers who are happy to sit back and do nothing to engage with their favourite program. The advancement of technology enables viewers and engage in conversations in online communities and using social media and the convince to record programs and watch them later. In order to provide a more accurate portrayal of audience activity, engagement and viewership, traditional methods of audience measurement need to be improved.
The FX network is abolishing its ‘live and same day’ ratings, which measure how many people are tuned into a particular program on the day and time that it airs. This method of audience measurement excludes time-shifted viewers who choose to watch their pre-recorded program at a later date. As a result, the data collected from ‘live and same day’ ratings are an inaccurate portrayal of audience engagement and measure of a TV programs viewership.
In an effort to obtain more accurate data, FX has introduced C3 ratings which is a three-day measurement tool that encompasses live and time shifted audiences who watch a program within three days of it airing. They are calling this new, more inclusive measurement system, ‘Live+3’, but despite its extended measurement period, FX has described it as ‘flawed’.
The below graph illustrates the increase in viewers when expanding the measurement period to encompass time-shifted viewers, watching programs within three or seven days of its original air date. The data is described as having a ‘cylindrical’ pattern, which is explained in more detail below.
Audience-measurement firm Rentrak, analysed live and time-shifted viewership during a 28-day period. The results showed that over 60% of audiences watched FX’s Sons of Anarchy and TNT’s Rizzoli and Isles after their airdate using either digital video recorders or video-on-demand. By extending the audience measurement period to include time-shifted viewers, some network’s programs are seeing an increase in viewership of over 50 percent.
Not only are networks extending the measurement period to reflect a more accurate portrayal and measurement of audience viewership; ListenLogic has introduced a new TV rating system that incorporates viewer engagement levels into traditional ratings. This new system is called ‘Involved Viewer Ratings’ and aims to provide a more robust measurement of audience involvement. It achieves this by measuring audience’s engagement in conversations and sharing opinions etc. about a program via social media networking sites. The new rating system follows posts and conversations for up to 24 hours after the program has aired. Mark Langsfeld, Founder & CEO of ListenLogic explains that they’re ‘using these unsolicited conversations to tap into a deeper level of viewer involvement and augment traditional TV ratings’.