What This Season's Time-Shifted Ratings Boosts Really Mean to Advertisers

Big Surge in 'Blacklist' Audience Over a Week, but Smaller Lift by the Measure Advertisers Care About

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The broadcast networks are touting huge audience gains for the fall season once you consider all the DVR and video-on-demand viewing in the week after shows air. While the supplements to live and same-day viewing are certainly a positive, the numbers look different by the measure that advertisers watch.

'The Blacklist'
'The Blacklist' Credit: NBC

Take a look at NBC's "The Blacklist," which became the first show to ever add more than 6 million viewers in the seven days after an airing. Its audience for its Sept. 30 episode shot up to 17.9 million viewers after a week from 11.4 million on the day it aired.

But advertisers do not usually go by Live+7, which measures viewers who watched a show up to seven days after it aired. Advertisers care about commercial ratings, or C3, which is the measure of the commercials watched both live and in the three days following. C3 is the primary metric under which most broadcast prime-time is bought and sold.

When looking at C3 ratings, "The Blacklist" added just 1.2 million viewers following its Sept. 30 episode, according to data provided by Carat.

For some, like CBS's "NCIS" and ABC's "Modern Family," C3 ratings are actually lower than the live-plus-same day ratings, which means the additional viewers the programs are getting from delayed viewing are not enough to make up for the loss of people who didn't see the commercials, explained Billie Gold, VP-director of buying and programming research, Carat.

Networks mat be talking up big week long audiences now partly to encourage advertisers to consider striking more C7 deals in next year's negotiations.

While a majority of delayed viewing occurs in the three days after a program airs, which is why most deals are negotiated in C3, advertisers currently do get an essentially free additional bump in the four days that follow. Of course, movie studios who are promoting a weekend opening and retailers marketing a sale might argue that messaging becomes irrelevant to those watching later in the week.

Here's a look at the broadcast shows with the biggest C3 boosts from the week of Sept. 30.

(In thousands)

Program Network Same Day
SD VS 7+
% Change
SD vs C3
% Change
NEW GIRL FOX 3,846 6,484 68.6% 4,445 15.6%
ELEMENTARY CBS 9,379 14,197 51.4% 10,593 12.9%
BROOKLYN NINE-NINE FOX 3,428 5,655 64.9% 3,849 12.3%
FAMILY GUY FOX 5,201 6,834 31.4% 5,774 11.0%
AMERICAN DAD FOX 4,471 5,662 26.7% 4,946 10.6%
MARVEL AGENTS S.H.I.E.L.D ABC 8,662 13,165 52.0% 9,582 10.6%
BLACKLIST NBC 11,354 17,858 53.7% 12,545 10.5%
SLEEPY HOLLOW FOX 7,967 12,793 60.6% 8,798 10.4%
PARENTHOOD NBC 4,225 6,745 59.6% 4,664 10.4%
HOSTAGES CBS 5,962 9,034 51.5% 6,573 10.2%
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