Viewers Expected to Watch 'X Factor' -- and Its Commercials, too

Though Audience Erosion Persists, Media Buyers See Rise in TV Ad Ratings for Key Programs, Time Slots

By Published on .

WHAT WILL BE WATCHED
ABC CBS NBC FOX CW
7 P.M. (ET) America's Funniest Home Videos
3.82
60 Minutes
7.60
Football Night in America
4.0
The OT
7.1
Cleveland Show
2.71
8 P.M. (ET) Once Upon a Time
3.88
Secret Millionaire
(spring) 5.5
The Amazing Race
5.47
Sunday Night Football
12.4
The Apprentice
(spring) 4.17
The Simpsons
3.95
Allen Gregory
3.12
Napoleon Dynamite
(spring) 2.62
Bob's Burgers
(spring) 2.34
9 P.M. (ET) Desperate Housewives
5.62
The Good Wife
6.0
Cleveland Show
2.1
Family Guy
3.73
American Dad
3.0
Cleveland Show
2.1
10 P.M. (ET) Pan Am
4.17
CSI Miami
6.02
The Firm
(spring) 3.63
ABC CBS NBC FOX CW
8 P.M. (ET) Dancing With the Stars
11.5
The Bachelor
5.14
How I Met Your Mother
4.42
2 Broke Girls
4.38
The Sing-Off
3.4
The Voice
(spring) 5.23
Terra Nova
4.11
House
(spring) 4.45
Gossip Girl
0.84
9 P.M. (ET) Two and a Half Men
6.63
Mike & Molly
6.0
Awake
(spring) 2.2
House
4.26
Alcatraz
(spring) 3.75
Hart of Dixie
0.84
10 P.M. (ET) Castle
5.55
Hawaii Five-O
5.7
Playboy Club
3.3
Smash
(spring) 3.83
ABC CBS NBC FOX CW
8 P.M. (ET) Last Man Standing
3.59
Man Up
3.11
NCIS
9.52
The Biggest Loser
3.71
Glee
4.39
90210
0.8
9 P.M. (ET) Dancing with the Stars (results show)
9.88
Apartment
(spring) 2.66
Cougar Town
(spring) 2.86
NCIS: LA
8.42
New Girl
3.22
Raising Hope
2.83
Ringer
0.76
10 P.M. (ET) Body of Proof
5.97
Unforgettable
6.16
Parenthood
2.99
ABC CBS NBC FOX CW
8 P.M. (ET) The Middle
4.09
Suburgatory
3.44
Survivor
5.04
Up All Night
2.85
Free Agents
2.74
The X-Factor
10.22
American Idol
(spring) 10.51
H8R
0.85
9 P.M. (ET) Modern Family
5.46
Happy Endings
3.33
Criminal Minds
6.86
Harry's Law
5.05
I Hate My Teenage Daughter
4.27
Mobbed
(spring) 2.8
America's Next Top Model
1.4
10 P.M. (ET) Revenge
3.3
Missing/The River
(spring) 3.7/3.3
CSI
7.02
Law and Order: SVU
4.38
ABC CBS NBC FOX CW
8 P.M. (ET) Charlie's Angels
3.65
Big Bang Theory
6.29
How To Be a Gentleman
5.22
Community
1.97
Parks & Recreation
1.95
The X-Factor Results
9.64
American Idol Results
(spring) 10.2
Vampire Diaries
1.27
9 P.M. (ET) Grey 's Anatomy
5.96
Person of Interest
7.09
The Office
3.0
Whitney
2.43
Bones
4.2
The Finder/Bones
(spring) 4.7/5.7
The Secret Circle
1.05
10 P.M. (ET) Private Practice
4.72
Scandal
(spring) 4.25
The Mentalist
7.32
Prime Suspect
3.5
ABC CBS NBC FOX CW
8 P.M. (ET) Extreme Makeover
4.34
A Gifted Man
3.83
Chuck
1.97
Kitchen Nightmares
1.86
Nikita
1.01
9 P.M. (ET) Shark Tank
2.67
CSI NY
5.01
Grimm
2.3
Fringe
2.16
Supernatural
1.11
10 P.M. (ET) 20/20
3.34
Blue Bloods
5.9
Dateline
3.23
ABC CBS NBC FOX CW
8 P.M. (ET) College Football
3.2
Movies (post football)
2.0
Rules of Engagement
3.83
Comedytime Saturday
2.61
Encores
1.9
Cops
2.04
Cops
2.48
9 P.M. (ET) Crimetime Saturday
3.2
Encores
2.1
Various repeats/America's Most Wanted specials
2.1
10 P.M. (ET) 48 Hours Mystery
3.35
Encores
2.6
Note: Chart reflects the C3 ratings media agencies expect shows to earn. A household rating is an estimate of the size of a TV audience relative to the total universe of homes with TVs. Nielsen estimates there are 114.9 million U.S. TV households, so a single national household ratings point is equal to 1%, or 1,150,000 households.

Are TV ads becoming more attractive to select numbers of couch potatoes? While the number of viewers sticking around to watch commercials generally continues to erode, media buyers surveyed by Advertising Age suggest advertisers who pick programs and time slots wisely could mine certain niches where commercial ratings are projected to rise.

'Dancing With the Stars'
'Dancing With the Stars' Credit: Michael Desmond/ABC

Take ABC's Monday night, where ad buyers expect household commercial ratings for "Dancing With the Stars," "Castle" and the midseason replacement program "The Bachelor" to improve from last year's projections. The same holds true for the network's Wednesday programs, "The Middle" and "Modern Family." On CBS, ad buyers project "Blue Bloods" will improve in its Friday time slot, along with the first two hours of the network's Saturday -night lineup (which contains original episodes of "Rules of Engagement" at 8 p.m). On the CW, where commercial ratings are usually the lowest on broadcast, Friday's "Supernatural" is eking out a small gain. Fox's addition of "The X Factor" is expected to have a halo effect on programs that lead out of it. "Glee" is also expected to improve its standing.

Even NBC, whose ratings performance has been talked about for several seasons, is getting in on the act. The network's top-rated "Sunday Night Football," always a draw for live viewing, is expected to increase its commercial ratings this season. And by moving "Harry's Law" into the time slot occupied this season by "Law & Order: SVU," NBC is anticipated to increase its commercial viewership in that hour, according to Ad Age 's survey. Donald Trump's "Apprentice" is also projected to increase its commercial ratings .

Ad Age 's survey is compiled by averaging fourth-quarter and first-quarter estimates for household commercial ratings from three major media-buying agencies. C3, the shorthand term for commercial ratings , measures the number of viewers who actually watch commercial breaks during a selected program rather than changing channels or fast-forwarding past them with a digital video recorder. Viewers who watch ads live as they run or as many as three days after they air are included in the ratings . Since the start of the 2007-2008 TV season, advertisers have crafted transactions based on C3 ratings , which take into account the number of viewers who watch commercials during a program, rather than the traditional ratings for the program itself.

The bright spots cited above don't reverse the continuing trend of significant audience erosion. For the recently completed 2010-2011 season, for example, ad buyers had projected a 7.57 rating for CBS's "Two and a Half Men," 7.34 for ABC's "Grey 's Anatomy," and 4.96 for NBC's "Biggest Loser." For the coming cycle, they envision those programs will generate household C3 ratings of 6.63, 5.96 and 3.71, respectively. At present, a single ratings point equals about 1.15 million households.

Behind the declines are the dispersal of audience to all sorts of video-enabled technology, such as portable devices, that are not measured in a fashion that helps gird deals between media outlets and advertisers. Some shows are able to buck the dynamic, or at least improve on the performance of whatever filled the time slot in the previous season. CBS's venerable "CSI" is a mature program and may not have the power to anchor Thursday nights as it has in the past. Drop the drama on Wednesday nights, however, and you score an improvement over "The Defenders," a show that didn't stay the course on the network last season.

What's at work behind the scenes? Ad-buying executives suggest marketers are increasing their estimates for younger shows that have gained traction in their second season.

Of the new programs coming onboard in the fall, ad buyers expect "The X Factor" to notch the greatest commercial ratings , with the Wednesday-night episode on Fox notching a 10.22 and the Thursday-night broadcast scoring a 9.64. Only "Sunday Night Football," "Dancing with the Stars" and "American Idol" score better.

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