Timeshifting and Engagement Lead to Ratings Weirdness

TV shows with Latino in front or behind the camera more popular than standard measurements indicate

By Se Fija!
Published on LatinoLA: January 8, 2012

Timeshifting and Engagement Lead to Ratings Weirdness

Reading the ratings ain't as simple as it used to be. In the old days, it was easy: a given program broadcast one time only; the nets used Nielsen boxes, diaries, and phone calls to measure how many people were watching that particular show at that particular time vs. the other shows on at that moment, and‘«™, you knew your ratings and your share. Badda-boom.

Today, however, that same show may be broadcast two or more times within the same week‘«Űsometimes twice in a row. It may be digitally recorded on TiVo/DVR and watched at some future moment, or caught the next day on Hulu or the network's web site, or picked up for a couple of bucks on iTunes and only some of those media may accommodate advertisers.

All in all, then, how 'popular' a show might be is far more difficult to know‘«™and its popularity may or may not have a bearing on its financial success.

Recent shows with Latino leads or supporting characters, or who have Latinos behind the camera, are among the most "timeshifted" programs around, "and" among the most "engaging"‘«Űwhich, oddly, has little to do with their quality and everything to do with how intently they are watched and remembered (something Nielsen measures by asking viewers to recall what they watched in the last twenty-four hours. The more often a specific show is recalled, the higher the show's 'engagement' number.)

For instance, James Roday's "Psych" from the USA Network is #5 on the timeshifter list; more than 90% of the people who are counted as watching it on TV time-shift it using "Live +7." "The Glades," with Kiele Sanchez and Carlos Gomez on A&E, is time-shifted by almost 80% of its viewers. (Some of the other, non-Latino winners: "American Horror Story" comes in at # 2 with 95%; FX's "Justified" at almost 84%.) It's particularly interesting to note than nine out of the top ten time-shifters are cable shows; the only broadcast network program in the group is Fox's "Fringe."

What are currently the most 'engaging'? NBC's "Grimm," with Latino executive producer and frequent director Norberto Barba at the helm, is number one. Eva Longoria and Ricardo Chavira and the rest of the "Desperate Housewives" comes in at #3; Josh Gomez and the gang on NBC's "Chuck" are #6; ABC's "Revenge," with Latino beauty Madeline Stowe, is #7. This time the top ten list is pretty evenly split (6 to 4) between network and cable, and three of the programs are new this season: "Grimm," "Suburgatory," and "Revenge."

What does all this mean? It means the "overnights," which used to be the most important numbers on the screen, are still a factor, but not nearly the make-or-break stats they were a few years ago. And it shows that‘«Űwith all these many technologies and transmission channels available to viewers‘«Űfolks who really want to see a show will see it, no matter when or how often it's showing, and no matter what channel's showing it or what other program's running against it.

So: a victory for quality (and probably demographics) over counter-programming‘«™and Latino hit-makes are squarely in the middle of the fight.

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