July 28, 2014

THE SKED: A Note About Cable Ratings

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Written by: Mitch Salem
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There was some byplay on Twitter today about the way we and other TV ratings sites report cable ratings, and it seems worthwhile to share a few guidelines.

Part of the confusion may have been caused by the way that the estimable, comprehensive TV By the Numbers website posts its cable ratings.  As TVBTN clearly notes in its postings, the 100 shows that it initially lists each day are the day’s Top 100 in Adult 25-54 ratings–but TVBTN ranks them in order of their 18-49 ratings, which are the most important for advertisers.  So if a show was the 12th most-watched of the day in 25-54s, but the 6th most-watched among 18-49s, TVBTN would list it at #6.  However, if a show was #6 in 18-49s but ranked #102 in 25-54s, it wouldn’t immediately be listed in the TVBTN rankings at all.  (The site does update its list later in the day and adds some titles that didn’t make the 25-54 list, noting that change in the introduction to the post.)  This tends to be an issue with young-skewing networks like ABCFamily, MTV, Nickelodeon, VH1 and Disney Channel, whose audiences cluster toward the young end of the 18-49 spectrum–if you read the early comments on a given day’s cable post, you’ll often see readers asking why programming on those networks hasn’t shown up on the list.

Here at SHOWBUZZDAILY, we don’t have the resources to report the bulk of cable ratings, and so we focus on our own–perhaps idiosyncratic–sense of what shows people will be interested in following, with some context beyond the numbers themselves and targeted reporting about key demos that go beyond the A25-54 and A18-49 numbers.  So, for example, we rarely mention except in passing the large number of Big Bang Theory, Family Guy and American Dad reruns that occupy the top of many days’ cable ratings, and we only note sports ratings for special events.  However, if any readers would like to see coverage of additional shows, please let us know and we’ll make every effort to include them.

About the Author

Mitch Salem
MITCH SALEM has worked on the business side of the entertainment industry for 20 years, as a senior business affairs executive and attorney for such companies as NBC, ABC, USA, Syfy, Bravo, and BermanBraun Productions, and before that, at the NY law firm of Weil, Gotshal & Manges. During all that, he has more or less constantly been going to the movies and watching TV, and writing about both since the 1980s. His film reviews also currently appear on and In addition, he is co-writer of an episode of the television series "Felicity."