Fox Abandons Same-Day Ratings

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FOX

The first broadcast network to make the move, it follows similar announcements from cable networks such as FX, AMC and the NBCUniversal suite.

In a move that's certainly in line with recent trends, but still a little surprising, Fox announced Friday afternoon that it will no longer issue reports on its own live-plus-same day ratings.

Of course, those numbers will continue to be available and reported, courtesy of ratings house Nielsen Media and the other networks that issue daily reports, but it is clear that Fox is trying to shift the conversation towards time-shifting — as many big cable networks (FX, AMC, USA) have successfully done over the last several years. (FX Networks topper John Landgraf was the first to formally make the move in July 2014.)

Though the network will make exceptions for live events such as sports and award shows, Fox will hold off on discussing the performance of its slate of original series until live-plus-three day, live-plus-seven day and multiplatform data are available. All three of those paint a bigger picture of how shows are being consumed, particularly at No. 3 Fox. The network has seen a growing portion of its audience come from streaming and time-shifting.

However sexy and immediate live-plus-same day ratings are, they are no longer industry standard. Fox TV Group CEOs and chairmen Dana Walden and Gary Newman noted in a staff memo (below) that half of the network's ads are now sold on a C7 basis.

North of one-third of the viewers in the targeted demographic of adults 18-49 who consume broadcast content now do it outside the live-plus-same day window. And while some programming still creates a big live draw (see Empire's swift and meteoric 2015 rise), the bulk of original scripted television shows that those scenarios are the exception.

This is likely the first step in a long road to the eventual demise of the morning-after ratings story. It's clear that Fox anticipates other networks will follow the move, as at least some most likely will in the not-too-distant future. But, for now, broadcast's live-plus-same day conversation will continue for the time being. There'll just be one less voice in the room.

Read Walden and Newman's memo below:

Dear Colleagues,

We are making a significant change to the way we communicate the performance of our shows.  Beginning Monday, you will no longer receive Live + Same Day Nielsen ratings.  No “fast nationals,” no “overnights,” “no prelims.”  There will no longer be THAT email in your inbox every morning at 8AM, because THAT email is no longer relevant. 

The connections between viewers and our shows today are more complex and, in many ways, deeper than ever – but they no longer only happen overnight.  So why do we, as an industry, wake up every morning and talk about those Live + Same Day numbers?  

This has to stop. It’s time for us to “walk the walk” and change the conversation. The Live + Same Day rating does not reflect the way people are watching our series. It leaves out the vast majority of fans who choose to watch on DVRs, and virtually ignores those who stream our shows or watch on demand.  And those viewers matter: Within a 7-day period, more than one-third of the broadcast 18-49 audience watches after the same-day window. Over 30 days, seven of our FOX series either double or more than double their same-day audience across platforms. And if you compare our total multiplatform audience this season versus last, we are up +14%.

The same-day numbers also do not reflect how we monetize our content. Half of our TV ad inventory is sold on a C7 basis, and we monetize our content on digital platforms like FOX NOW and Hulu, and through TrueX sponsorships – none of which are included in Nielsen’s fast nationals.

Every day, our creators, and their casts and crews, put their hearts and souls into making their shows as original and unforgettable as possible. And these creators deserve to work at a company that has a contemporary understanding of who their audience is and how their shows are watched.

Looking ahead, we’re going to stop circulating the Nielsen Live + Same Day ratings, both internally and to press.  We will not acknowledge them for any programming other than live events. We know that the daily external dialogue isn’t going to change right away, but internally, we can kick things off by shifting our own mindsets toward a more holistic measure.  Will Somers will follow up shortly to lay out what you can expect from the research team moving forward.

FOX is a company that has always prided itself on being forward-thinking…and nothing could be more antiquated than a decades-old measurement that reflects only a portion of our audience.

So together, let’s move the ratings conversation into the future. Here we go!

Gary and Dana

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