I’ve seen a few questions about what the “ratings share” means, and how that connects to the overall viewer numbers. Here are the basics: the Nielsen ratings count the percentage of households with TVs who are watching a certain program. The number I focus on is the 18-49 “key” demographic, meaning, the percentage of households watching who are in that particular age range. What makes that range “key”? Those are the people advertisers want, and those ratings matter more than overall viewers (to an extent, although usually they’re still somewhat connected).
So, if a show has a 5 rating in the key demo and 5 million viewers (slash consumers), its network can charge a lot more for ad spots than a show with a 2 rating and 11 million viewers (which suggests an older crowd is watching). That is how one network can win with adults 18-49, and a different network might win with viewers. Often though, one network will win both.
The ratings / ratings share (the total percentage of all households watching) usually has more to do with a show being renewed than overall viewers (as in, is it worthwhile to produce based on ad dollars?), but there are often many factors at play when it comes to those decisions, and networks all have different styles and thresholds (the CW gives its shows a very long leash to help build up fandoms, while Fox tends to ax shows that don’t perform right out the gate).
The other thing to keep in mind is that these are the live numbers for broadcast. Often, shows will adjust up when their Live+3 (or Live+7) numbers are tallied. Those metrics take into account people who watch online or on DV-Rs, or “delayed” viewings. I don’t usually report those numbers unless they end up being significant regarding a show’s survival, but those totals are fairly easy to find if you are looking for them.
Ratings for cable networks, for what it’s worth, are a much more difficult thing to figure out, because they can premiere shows at any time, have lots of reruns, and don’t need to produce new content every night. Also, their ratings are almost always reported on a delay (HBO takes a full week). But usually, if something big has happened, they will send out a press release (like AMC has done recently with Better Call Saul, which has had really good cable numbers).
Now! Onward — the TV ratings for Monday, March 2nd are in, and here are some of the highlights (more like lowlights):
- No one faired particularly well on Monday, despite a lack of competition and a lot of reruns. NBC’s The Voice, at 8 p.m., was down 7 percent from last week’s premiere, notching a 3.8 rating in the key demo (see above!) and 14.28 million viewers, which helped the network win the night with adults and overall.
- The Bachelor‘s “Women Tell All” special on ABC was down 8 percent from last week’s regular episode, dropping to a 2.4 and 8.06 million viewers at 8 p.m.
- Fox’s Gotham dipped 13 percent from last week to a 2 rating, and 6.05 million viewers, also at 8 p.m. (You can read Dave’s recap here).
- Things only got worse for Fox at 9 p.m., with the Season 3 premiere of The Following, which only brought in a 1.6 rating and 4.79 million viewers. That’s down 25 percent from last year’s premiere, but up a tenth from the Season 2 finale.
- The Night Shift at 10 p.m. on NBC was also down to 1.4 and 6.34 million viewers, a 7 percent drop from the previous week.