First C3 data breaks demo tie

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The first batch of the long-awaited average commercial minute ratings came out Tuesday, and industry executives said they were about as expected.

Looking at Premiere Week, the first week available with the new system, ABC and Fox were the only two networks that saw higher ratings for the Commercial+3 data than it had in the live ratings that were released the next day. The others were about the same as live ratings; using the C3 yardstick, though, ABC won the week outright in adults 18-49 with a 3.6 rating compared with NBC's 3.5. In the live ratings, NBC and ABC had been tied.

Nielsen Media Research wouldn't release adults 18-49 data for any of the shows, which are the actual currency networks and advertisers will use this TV season. Instead, the company released only household and viewership numbers, which revealed that the top shows in C3 are pretty much the same ones that led in the live ratings. Only about one-third of the shows got any bumps, and slight ones at that, for the average commercial minute ratings over three days.

Magna Global research chief Steve Sternberg said that's no surprise. Magna Global and others say the first pass of C3 ratings are similar to the results for the live program ratings rather than the Live+SD (same day) or Live+7 data.

Among the five broadcast networks, C3 was 1% lower than the live ratings available the next day among such demos as adults 12-34 and adults 18-49 and 2% lower for adults 25-54. It's a slightly different picture for older demographics, Magna Global said, because of the higher DVR usage among younger people.

At least on the network side, there's likely to be no major surprises, though more programs are down versus live ratings than up in C3.

"There's nothing here that we didn't expect," one executive said.

More problematic are the cable numbers, which will test whether C3 should have been the standard this year for cable networks. There has been some question in the industry in that respect.

The data was under analysis Tuesday and will continue to determine trends.

Sternberg and other executives said it would take time to determine whether there will be any change. Sternberg said that there was more playback of DVR viewing in Premiere Week.

"The only thing we can say is, let's wait and see if it holds up," Sternberg said.
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