TV Ratings: 35-Day Numbers Show Huge Gains as ABC Stops Reporting Overnight Results

The network joins Fox and a number of cable channels in ending the practice of giving much weight to same-day figures.
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ABC Entertainment president Karey Burke

More than a month and a half into the 2019-20 TV season, ratings are still rolling in for shows that debuted in week one. And, not surprisingly, the numbers look a lot better than the underwhelming initial returns.

ABC on Monday released a batch of 35-day, multiplatform numbers for premiere week (along with a note that it will no longer share notes on same-day ratings going forward, other than for live events), and they show that a number of the network's premieres tripled or even quadrupled their initial performance. That jibes with figures from other networks: NBC has reported similar 35-day lifts for a number of its shows.

The season premiere of Grey's Anatomy, for instance, posted an initial 1.5 rating among adults 18-49 and 6.51 million viewers. A week of delayed viewing pushed it up to 2.6 and 9.67 million. Four more weeks of viewing, plus digital plays for the full 35-day period, give the episode a 6.5 rating in the 18-49 demo — more than four times that of its first airing — and 16.6 million viewers, 2 1/2 times its same-day audience.

Similarly, The Good Doctor is at 17.2 million multiplatform viewers and a 4.35 rating among adults 18-49 after 35 days, a huge jump from the 6.26 million viewers and 1.0 rating for its same-day performance. Hence ABC Entertainment president Karey Burke's decision to stop reporting same-day ratings, a practice in which ABC joins Fox and a number of cable networks.

"This move aligns us with how we evaluate the comprehensive performance of our shows, how we monetize our business and how our audience chooses to consume our content," Burke said Monday in a memo to staff. "People used to plan their lives around television, now they plan television around their lives."

Not every network has released the longer-tail, multiplatform figures for premiere week, but ABC and NBC have. Along with Grey's Anatomy and The Good Doctor, shows that have more than tripled their initial 18-49 ratings after five weeks include This Is Us (1.8 to 6.5), New Amsterdam (1.0 to 3.6), The Good Place (0.7 to 3.4), Law & Order: SVU (0.7 to 3.2), Superstore (0.8 to 2.8), Modern Family (1.1 to 4.3), Stumptown (0.7 to 3.2), A Million Little Things (1.0 to 3.4), Mixed-ish (0.9 to 2.8) and Emergence (0.8 to 2.6).

Nielsen measures TV-set viewing out to 35 days after a program airs. Between January and August, the top 20 shows in 35-day viewer growth all added at least 4 million people to their initial tallies; digital platforms only serve to increase that total.