Hundreds of reporters have assembled at TCA summer press tour, but as far as I’m aware, I’m the only one who wrote a detailed story about the fascinating panel with CBS, FX, Fox and Showtime’s research gurus, who talked about how audiences actually watch TV now.
“We’re in a new era of television,” said David Poltrack, chief research officer for CBS, noting that weekly TV viewing has increased 2% over the last three years, from 35 hours and 36 minutes to 37 hours and 50 minutes. “This is a golden era of television content, and the public is embracing television and engaging with television in a way that they never did before, because it is so much good programming.”
While I usually try to summarize my stories a bit here, there’s so much terrific information throughout the piece about delayed viewing lifts and multi-platform audiences that I urge you to read the whole thing yourself.
Happy new year! I rung in 2014 at Quartz with — what else? — this list of five resolutions that the networks should make for the coming year to thrive in this strange new world of streaming, stacking and binge-viewing. Among them: Plan for life after talent competitions.
For the past decade, talent competitions like American Idol and Dancing with the Stars have dominated the TV landscape, but across the board, almost all of those shows are showing signs of fatigue. Idol, Dancing, America’s Got Talent, and The X Factor’s ratings were all down sharply this season (only relative newbie The Voice is still robustly chugging along), despite various attempts at shuffling formats and judges.
Even with the ratings drop-off, most of these shows are still solid performers, but they are definitely closer to the end of their run. Given the vast amount of real estate they occupy on their respective networks, it’s time to come up with contingency plans for when these shows do take their final bows. Otherwise they’ll be repeating the mistakes of ABC and NBC, whose respective schedules took years to recover from overreliance on the likes of Who Wants to be a Millionaire and The Jay Leno Show. It could be argued that they still haven’t recovered.
Resolutions are easy to make, but very hard to follow. I’ll check back in with this story at the end of the year and see how many of these the networks actually stuck with.
One of the reasons I love writing for Quartz is being able to do stories like today’s: an explanation why the broadcast networks are being more patient than ever with new shows, as they rely more heavily on Nielsen’s “live plus seven” ratings. As I wrote,
Delayed-viewing is “significantly higher” than last year, CBS research chief David Poltrack told USA Today, adding that even older viewers, historically late adopters of new technology, are jumping on board. “The world has definitely changed,” says Poltrack.
I’m happy that delayed-viewing ratings have boosted the fortunes of several of my favorite low-rated series, like Brooklyn Nine-Nine, The Bridge and The Americans.