Fox to Stop Using Same-Day TV Ratings: Read Dana Walden and Gary Newman’s Internal Memo

“There will no longer be THAT email in your inbox every morning at 8AM, because THAT email is no longer relevant,” co-CEOs write

Last Updated: November 20, 2015 @ 8:50 PM

Fox has become the first broadcast network to cease using Live + Same Day Nielsen ratings, which it shares both internally and externally with media outlets. Dana Walden and Gary Newman’s channel will no longer issue those snapshot Nielsen numbers, holding out for three- and seven-day delayed viewing ratings instead, the co-CEOs said on Friday.

The move actually drops Fox from third to fourth place season-to-date when studying rankings through Nov. 15, the most recently completed week. The broadcaster averages a 1.8 Live + Same Day rating, which is two-tenths of a ratings point above ABC. Those networks swap spots however when checking Nielsen’s “most current” ratings, which include Live + 7 Day viewing where applicable.

Here are those season-to-date rankings through Nov. 15:

Most Current
NBC: 2.8
CBS: 2.5
ABC: 2.2
Fox: 2.1

L+SD
NBC: 2.4
CBS: 2.1
Fox: 1.8
ABC: 1.6

However, adding in the first three days of this week — which is what is available at the moment — Fox climbs over ABC per that “most current” data. This is kind of convenient though, as it counts “Empire,” but not Shondaland Thursdays.

Here are those numbers:

Most Current
NBC: 3.0
CBS: 2.7
Fox: 2.4
ABC: 2.3

A case could be made for focusing on either data set over the other.

“We are making a significant change to the way we communicate the performance of our shows,” Walden and Newman wrote their colleagues. “Beginning Monday, you will no longer receive Live + Same Day Nielsen ratings. No ‘fast nationals,’ no ‘overnights,’ ‘no prelims.’ There will no longer be THAT email in your inbox every morning at 8AM, because THAT email is no longer relevant.”

The connections between viewers and our shows today are more complex and, in many ways, deeper than ever — but they no longer only happen overnight,” they continued. “So why do we, as an industry, wake up every morning and talk about those Live + Same Day numbers?

“This has to stop,” the execs declared, citing the move as proof of their resolve to “walk the talk and change the conversation.”

Fox will continue to report same-day numbers for live and special events, however.

Later in the memo — which is posted in full below — Walden and Newman stated that more than one-third of the key 18-49 demographic watches after the traditional same-day window, and that half of their TV ad inventory is sold on a C7 basis.

“Every day, our creators, and their casts and crews, put their hearts and souls into making their shows as original and unforgettable as possible,” the duo wrote. “And these creators deserve to work at a company that has a contemporary understanding of who their audience is and how their shows are watched.”

“We know that the daily external dialogue isn’t going to change right away, but internally, we can kick things off by shifting our own mindsets toward a more holistic measure,” the chiefs concluded. “Fox is a company that has always prided itself on being forward-thinking … and nothing could be more antiquated than a decades-old measurement that reflects only a portion of our audience.”

Below is Walden and Newman’s full internal memo.

Dear Colleagues, 

We are making a significant change to the way we communicate the performance of our shows.  Beginning Monday, you will no longer receive Live + Same Day Nielsen ratings.  No “fast nationals,” no “overnights,” “no prelims.”  There will no longer be THAT email in your inbox every morning at 8AM, because THAT email is no longer relevant.  

The connections between viewers and our shows today are more complex and, in many ways, deeper than ever – but they no longer only happen overnight.  So why do we, as an industry, wake up every morning and talk about those Live + Same Day numbers?  

This has to stop. It’s time for us to “walk the walk” and change the conversation. The Live + Same Day rating does not reflect the way people are watching our series. It leaves out the vast majority of fans who choose to watch on DVRs, and virtually ignores those who stream our shows or watch on demand.  And those viewers matter: Within a 7-day period, more than one-third of the broadcast 18-49 audience watches after the same-day window. Over 30 days, seven of our FOX series either double or more than double their same-day audience across platforms. And if you compare our total multiplatform audience this season versus last, we are up +14%.

The same-day numbers also do not reflect how we monetize our content. Half of our TV ad inventory is sold on a C7 basis, and we monetize our content on digital platforms like FOX NOW and Hulu, and through TrueX sponsorships – none of which are included in Nielsen’s fast nationals.

Every day, our creators, and their casts and crews, put their hearts and souls into making their shows as original and unforgettable as possible. And these creators deserve to work at a company that has a contemporary understanding of who their audience is and how their shows are watched.

Looking ahead, we’re going to stop circulating the Nielsen Live + Same Day ratings, both internally and to press.  We will not acknowledge them for any programming other than live events. We know that the daily external dialogue isn’t going to change right away, but internally, we can kick things off by shifting our own mindsets toward a more holistic measure.  Will Somers will follow up shortly to lay out what you can expect from the research team moving forward.

FOX is a company that has always prided itself on being forward-thinking…and nothing could be more antiquated than a decades-old measurement that reflects only a portion of our audience.

So together, let’s move the ratings conversation into the future. Here we go!

Gary and Dana

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