March 23, 2016

Nielsen Announces Faster Release of “Fringe” Broadcast Programs

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Written by: Mitch Metcalf
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For years now, we have received television ratings the following business day, except for network programs broadcast before or after prime time. Such programs that air in the morning, daytime, early evening or late night periods are not so affectionately called “fringe” dayparts. For decades, fringe daypart ratings for the broadcast networks have been released on a rather lazy schedule: all broadcast programs outside of prime time during a given Monday-Sunday were released all at once the following Thursday. That meant a relatively snappy four-day wait for CBS Sunday Morning or a five-day wait for Saturday Night Live, but a very lengthy 10-day wait for the Monday episode of Good Morning America or Nightline if you were looking for that.

Starting in July, fringe dayparts will be treated with more respect and faster processing. In Nielsen-speak, broadcast data for fringe dayparts will be released “next-next day.” For example, Monday’s prime time broadcast data will continue to be released Tuesday afternoons, but then on Wednesday mornings the fringe/ non-prime broadcast ratings from Monday will be released. The fringe ratings will be released daily, rather than in weekly batches, according to the sample schedule at the bottom.  Admittedly, none of this will be transformational or life-altering. We don’t get a lot of questions around here about how Tuesday’s Jimmy Kimmel Live! rated or how Monday’s Days of Our Lives did.  Somehow this topic is reminiscent of Steve Martin in The Jerk excitedly proclaiming, “the new telephone books are here!”

But Nielsen actually should be given credit for trying to improve processing time and getting rid of one of the clunkiest artifacts of television broadcasting: the Thursday fringe reports.  And coming soon are the new “total content ratings,” which will add views on streaming services to a program’s television and DVR ratings.  Now if they would just install PeopleMeters in those 20,000 new homes in the sample where they are “modeling”/ guessing viewing behavior.  But that is another issue for another day.

Planned Nielsen Schedule for Broadcast Ratings (Live+Same Day)
(starting July 2016)
Monday morning: Thursday Fringe ratings
Monday afternoon: Friday Prime ratings
Tuesday morning: Saturday & Sunday All Dayparts, Friday Fringe
Tuesday afternoon: Monday Prime
Wednesday morning: Monday Fringe
Wednesday afternoon: Tuesday Prime
Thursday morning: Tuesday Fringe
Thursday afternoon: Wednesday Prime
Friday morning: Wednesday Fringe
Friday afternoon: Thursday Prime


About the Author

Mitch Metcalf
MITCH METCALF has been tracking every US film release of over 500 screens (over 2300 movies and counting) since the storied weekend of May 20, 1994, when Maverick and Beverly Hills Cop 3 inspired countless aficionados to devote their lives to the art of cinema. Prior to that, he studied Politics and Economics at Princeton in order to prepare for his dream of working in television. He has been Head of West Coast Research at ABC, then moved to NBC in 2000 and became Head of Scheduling for 11 years.