TV Ratings: Multiplatform Data Shows Big Shift in Viewing Habits

Shows like 'Grey's Anatomy' and 'This Is Us' are getting huge bumps from digital platforms and longer measurement of delayed viewing.
Courtesy of ABC; NBC
'Grey's Anatomy' (left), 'This Is Us'

Seven weeks and change into the 2019-20 TV season, ratings information about the first week of the season is still trickling in.

Nielsen has released 35-day numbers for premiere week, and they jibe with previous long-tail data from the ratings service. The top shows in both adults 18-49 and total viewers continued to grow their audiences over five weeks, but the gains beyond seven days weren't terribly big.

The top 20 entertainment shows in the 18-49 demographic, for instance, averaged a 2.15 rating after seven days — a gain of 0.89 over their same-day starting points. The next four weeks of delayed viewing added just 0.22 on average. 

Similarly, total-viewer growth as measured by Nielsen among the top 20 was much bigger among the top 20 from days 1-7 (3.89 million viewers on average) than from days 8-35 (871,000). 

The key phrase there is "as measured by Nielsen," because adding in multiplatform viewing — which the ratings service does not currently track — reveals a big shift in viewing habits. Among the top 20 shows where digital ratings figures are available, multiplatform viewing accounts for 20 percent of the total 35-day audience — and more than a third (37 percent) of the total 18-49 rating.

ABC, Fox and NBC have released their multiplatform figures for premiere week, and they show season and series premieres doubling, tripling and even quadrupling their same-day numbers — and in a couple cases even doubling their 35-day, TV-only ratings.

Each network tallies its own digital ratings. CBS has opted not to release its multiplatform numbers, preferring to focus on same-day and three- and seven-day ratings.

Among the digital all-stars are ABC's long-running Grey's Anatomy, which grows from a 2.9 rating in adults 18-49 and 10.53 million viewers after 35 days of TV viewing to a 6.45 rating in the demo and 16.6 million viewers with digital included — more than doubling its demo rating and increasing its total audience by 6 million viewers. NBC's This Is Us goes from a 3.8 rating in the demo and 14.52 million viewers on TV only after 35 days to a 6.51 rating and 19.5 million with digital.

On average, multiplatform viewing boosted viewership by 24.5 percent over the TV only 35-day ratings for the 12 shows below where digital data is available. The jump was even bigger among adults 18-49, where digital added 59 percent over the TV-only ratings. 

Below are the top 20 broadcast shows (including ties) for premiere week, ranked by 35-day Nielsen ratings. Available multiplatform numbers are in the far right column of each chart.

Adults 18-49

Show Network Live-plus-same-day Live-plus-7 Live-plus-35 Live-plus-35 multiplatform
This Is Us NBC 1.8 3.4 3.8 6.51
The Masked Singer Fox 2.5 3.6 3.8 5.5
Grey's Anatomy ABC 1.5 2.6 2.9 6.45
911 Fox 1.6 2.6 2.9 4.7
Modern Family ABC 1.1 2.2 2.5 4.28
The Good Doctor ABC 1.0 2.2 2.4 4.35
New Amsterdam NBC 1.0 2.2 2.4 3.6
Chicago PD NBC 1.1 2.1 2.4 3.19
The Voice - Monday NBC 1.7 2.2 2.4 3.34
Chicago Fire NBC 1.1 2.0 2.2 2.85
NCIS CBS 1.3 2.0 2.2 n/a
Survivor CBS 1.3 2.0 2.2 n/a
The Voice - Tuesday NBC 1.6 2.0 2.2 3.07
A Million Little Things ABC 1.0 1.8 2.1 3.43
Young Sheldon CBS 1.1 1.8 2.1 n/a
The Conners ABC 1.3 1.8 2.0 2.93
Prodigal Son Fox 1.0 1.8 1.9 3.3
Empire Fox 1.0 1.7 1.9 2.6
Chicago Med NBC 1.0 1.8 1.9 2.46
Stumptown ABC 0.7 1.7 1.8 3.22
Law & Order: SVU NBC 0.8 1.6 1.8 3.27

 

Total Viewers

Show Network Live-plus-same-day (000s) Live-plus-7 (000s) Live-plus-35 (000s) Live-plus-35 multiplatform (000s)
NCIS CBS 12,581 16,945 18,076 n/a
This Is Us NBC 7,901 13,032 14,520 19,500
FBI CBS 8,838 12,692 13,643 n/a
Blue Bloods CBS 7,860 12,421 13,362 n/a
The Good Doctor ABC 6,272 12,189 13,360 17,200
New Amsterdam NBC 5,919 11,715 12,610 15,000
Young Sheldon CBS 8,248 11,245 12,285 n/a
The Masked Singer Fox 8,033 11,373 12,117 15,689
Bull CBS 6,429 10,977 12,063 n/a
Chicago Fire NBC 7,330 11,329 12,006 12,900
Chicago PD NBC 6,496 11,156 11,990 13,500
911 Fox 7,149 10,995 11,874 15,650
The Voice - Monday NBC 8,943 11,119 11,604 13,600
NCIS: New Orleans CBS 6,667 10,603 11,534 n/a
Chicago Med NBC 7,536 10,993 11,527 12,600
The Voice - Tuesday NBC 8,324 10,358 11,037 13,000
Grey's Anatomy ABC 6,522 9,671 10,529 16,600
Hawaii Five-0 CBS 7,036 9,724 10,495 n/a
Stumptown ABC 4,616 9,111 9,887 12,800
NCIS: Los Angeles CBS 6,450 9,212 9,764 n/a

Sources: Nielsen, ABC, Fox, NBC.