Sunday, April 19, 2009

Ratings in context: Soaps near bottom, but slower decline

Roger Newcomb recently linked an article reporting the recent March Sweeps ratings performance (both household rating, and one-year or season-to-date trends) of syndicated daytime and early prime shows. I decided to ask the question of "where do soaps fit in?". I had two questions. First, compared to other genres, how does the average ratings of soaps compare? Second, how does the one-year change rate compare? The answers follow in detail, but in summary, soaps really aren't doing very well in the overall daytime landscape, but their bleeding seems to have slowed. Other genres (judge shows, sitcoms) declined faster in the past year, but because they are cheaper and pull better numbers (sitcoms, anyway), I imagine they might still be more viable.


These answers were a little surprising to me, because I don't pay much attention to other genres. As a caveat, I am showing brute averages, and it would probably be more correct to do weighted averages that adjust for numbers of viewers, etc. In addition, these focus on household ratings numbers (which is all I could get, for the most part)--when we're constantly told it is that 18-49 or 18-34 demo we care more about.

Sitcoms: HH = 3.3
1st Hour morning news (e.g., Today): HH = 3.2
Game Shows: HH = 3.2
Entertainment news (e.g., ET): HH = 2.6
Soaps: HH = 2.2
Talk shows: HH = 2.1
Judge shows: HH = 1.6


That's pretty striking. In terms of delivering eyeballs, the relatively expensive soaps are in the bottom half of daily stripped programming! Yikes! If you were a bean counter, what genre would you pick to deliver eyeballs? Probably not a long-running drama that skews old in the demographics.


Now, the one-year decline trends tell a slightly different story...but this is again a bit of a problematic analysis (because it mixes new programs with long-running shows, and it doesn't control for things like affiliate clearance rates and the like). Still, I think several interesting stories emerge from these numbers:


Sitcoms: -13%
Game Shows: -7%
Entertainment news (e.g., ET): -3%
Soaps: 0%
Talk shows: +3%
Judge shows: -13%

First, in the short term, the soaps seem to have bottomed out, something Sara Bibel has also recently wondered. While we have still seen declines in many shows (B&B, GH, ATWT, GL), these have been offset by minimal decline and gain for others (Y&R, DOOL, AMC, OLTL).

Second, the highest decline rates seem to be for judge shows and sitcoms...but both of these are so relatively cheap. The judge shows, both at the bottom of the ratings pack and with the steepest descent, would seem to be at greatest risk...but they cost so little. The sitcom decline is more interesting to me, since the era of the "grand hit" (Friends, Cosby, Seinfeld) is over, and so I don't know if that genre can flourish without another big primetime hit. On the other hand, since there are no incremental production costs for repurposing and stripping primetime shows, I think all it means is that affiliates will be able to license syndicated shows at a lower rate.

Third, there is enormous variability within genres. That talk genre has some shows that show big to huge gains (Oprah, Ellen, The Doctors, Steve Wilkos, Bonnie Hunt), and these all suggest the talk genre still has momentum. On the other hand, no sitcom, judge show, or game show showed gain...and that suggests that some of those genres may be even more stale than soaps. Still, because those other genres are cheap, I'd still predict they have a better shot of persisting than soaps. The celebrity fascination is still viable, with several gossip/entertainment news shows showing growth.Maybe Soapnet is right to bet on more celebrity-oriented fare? It is somewhat surprising that 'reality' has still not found a foothold on daytime.








































































































































































































































































































Wheel of Fortunea

7.2

-8%

Jeopardy

5.8

-6%

Oprah

5.4

+10%

Two and a Half Men

4.8

-8%

Judge Judy

4.4

-6%

Entertainment Tonight

4.3

-2%

Today Show (1st hour)b

4.2








Family Guy4.0-13%
The Young and
the
Restlessc

3.7

-1%

Seinfeld

3.6

-12%

The Viewd

3.5








Dr Phil

3.5

-17%

Good Morning America (1st hour)

3.4








Everybody Loves Raymond

3.1

-16%

The Price is Righte3.0








Inside Edition

3.0

-6%

George Lopez

2.8

-13%

King of Queens

2.8

-7%

King of the Hill

2.7

-17%

Live with Regis & Kelly

2.6

-4%

Friends2.5-14%
Today (2nd hour)

2.5








The Bold and
the
Beautiful

2.5

-9%

Who Wants to Be a Millionaire

2.4

-14%

Ellen Degeneres

2.3

+10%

TMZ

2.3

+5%

Judge Joe Brown

2.2

-12%

Access Hollywood2.2-4%
Days of
Our Lives

2.2

+2%

CBS Early Show (1st hour)

2.1








All My
Children

2.0

+12%

One Life
to Live

2.0+11%
General Hospital

2.0-7%
The Doctors

1.9

+46%

People's Court1.9-17%
As The World
Turns

1.9

-7%

Rachel Ray

1.8

-5%

Maury

1.8

-5%

Extra

1.8

+6%

Insider

1.8

-14%

Deal or No Deal

1.7

+6%

Judge Mathis1.6-20%
Guiding Light

1.6

-4%

Judge Alex

1.5

-12%

Family Feud

1.5

-21%

Today (3rd hour)

1.4








Divorce Court

1.4

-18%

Tyra

1.1

0%

Cristina's Court

1.1

-8%

Jerry Springer

1.1

-8%

Steve Wilkos

1.1

+22%

Bonnie Hunt

1.0

+25%

Judge Karen

0.9

-18%

Morning Show with Mike and Juliet0.9-10%
Judge David Young0.80%
Martha Stewart0.7-30%
Trivial Pursuit0.60%
Family Court0.5-17%



a Ratings and change data taken from http://www.broadcastingcable.com/article/196222-Syndication_Ratings_Doctors_Ahead_of_the_Pack_in_Rookie_Field_During_Sweeps.php; where the show had been on for less than a year, ratings reflected change since premier

b Morning show ratings taken from http://nbcumv.com/release_detail.nbc/news-20090409000000-big039today039.html One year change data were not readily available.

c Soap opera season to date ratings taken from Soap Opera Network, http://boards.soapoperanetwork.com/index.php?s=&showtopic=30056&view=findpost&p=704665. One year change rates computed from one-year change in total viewers as reported at SON

d The View ratings taken from ABC daytime press release http://tvbythenumbers.com/2009/04/09/sweeps-ratings-for-abc-daytime-programming/16404, total viewers = 4,100,000. HH rating estimated by linear regression (Rating = viewers), using data from Soap Opera Network (see footnote c above). The conversion formula was Rating = .096 + 7.081E-7*Viewers. One year change data were not readily available.

e. The Price is Right ratings were averaged over Part 1 and
Part 2(first and second half hour), and reflect season-to-date as reported in January at http://www.medialifemagazine.com/artman2/publish/Dayparts_update_51/Price_is_Right_falls_off_with_new_host.asp, total viewers = 4,800,000. HH rating estimated by linear regression (Rating = viewers), using data from Soap Opera Network (see footnote c above). The conversion formula was Rating = .096 + 7.081E-7*Viewers. One year change data were not readily available.




2 comments:

Patrick Erwin said...

I know it's off-topic - but I still get confused when I see "The Doctors" listed, since I remember the soap more vividly than the talk show!

MarkH said...

"The Doctors" confuses me too.

On some televised ad for it, I saw it was being labelled as

"Drs."

So, I've been thinking about using it that way.

Speaking of which, we'd heard from some source that "The Doctors" was going to get rerun on, I think, Hallmark Channel. That must have been another lie....