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Starting today, you won’t see a morning story on the previous night’s ratings at The Hollywood Reporter.
THR isn’t abandoning ratings coverage in any way — but changes in both the way people watch TV and the way Nielsen reports those viewers have made those early ratings numbers arguably less relevant than they ever have been.
On Aug. 31, Nielsen started including out of home viewing in its daily final ratings, which are usually released in the afternoon (or Tuesday morning for Saturdays and Sundays). They also include ratings for cable programs. The “fast national” ratings that arrive each morning don’t have either of those.
THR will now switch to reporting on those numbers, which will provide a better — if still incomplete — snapshot of just how many people watched a given network or cable show the night it aired. Particularly for live events, including sports and news coverage, the final numbers are a much better representation of the full audience than the fast nationals. Those live events are also more likely to have out-of-home audiences than regular entertainment programming (although the effect might not show up much in the midst of a pandemic).
THR will still provide early numbers on certain big events, including major awards shows, the Super Bowl and this fall’s presidential debates. But those stories will be updated and augmented as more complete numbers roll in.
In conjunction with that switch, THR will also more regularly report delayed viewing numbers. The three- and seven-day ratings are the ones that networks pay more attention to for entertainment programming (along with commercial ratings, which are rarely made public), and we’re following suit in ramping up our reporting of them. Look for stories at least weekly on those numbers, and possibly more frequently as data become available.
Finally, THR will provide regular updates on the elusive streaming ratings. Nielsen has begun releasing a weekly streaming top 10, which currently includes programs on Netflix and Amazon and will feature more streaming services in the future. Inasmuch as platforms release their own metrics — which is not often — we’ll report on those as well, with the right context to understand how they compare, or don’t, to more traditional measurement.
There can still be value in same-day ratings, particularly for live telecasts that viewers are less likely to save for a future. That’s why THR is continuing to report them. Those figures represent more of a starting point, however, and our coverage going forward will reflect more of the steps along the way.
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