VOD, streaming trends helped CBS show land Super Bowl berth

The CBS drama “Elementary” has logged strong numbers in its Thursday 10 p.m. slot in the first half of its frosh season.

The contempo spin on Sherlock Holmes has been fortified by solid reviews and clear chemistry between stars Jonny Lee Miller and Lucy Liu. Since its September debut, the show has averaged 13.3 million viewers in Nielsen’s live-plus-7 ratings, and a healthy 3.2 rating/9 share in adults 18-49.

But in keeping with the show’s Holmesian DNA, it was the patterns that Eye brass spotted in the VOD and streaming numbers that helped seal the Eye’s decision to sked “Elementary” in the plum post-Super Bowl slot on Feb. 3.

On VOD via cable systems, the show averages an additional 959,000 views per episode, according to David Poltrack, chief research officer for CBS Corp. On the Web, the “Elementary” has averaged another 489,000 viewers per episode via streaming.

Most important, Poltrack said, are the streaming stats registered on Fridays after the previous night’s episode becomes available. Not only does the new episode generate a lot of views, but every other “Elementary” seg that is available for viewing also goes up.

CBS’ research has found that new viewers are still coming every week to the show, which may well be fueled by the online sampling. The median age of “Elementary’s” viewers on the air is 57, while online the median age is 36.

To programmers, all of these patterns represent the Shangri-la of sampling. New viewers are continuing to check out the show, reinforcing CBS’ belief that it has strong growth potential that be turbo-charged by the Super Bowl showcase.

“The whole sampling and discovery process for (new) shows has changed in a way that is beneficial to good shows,” Poltrack said.

The vast difference in the age of the aud that watches on TV versus streaming is a prime example of what a boon online distribution can be to getting shows in front of viewers who would otherwise be unlikely to surf over to CBS.

“These new (platforms) are allowing us to take a move a show beyond our traditional older constituency and circulate it faster among younger viewers,” Poltrack said.

“Elementary” is a big win for CBS overall as the show hails from its sibling studio unit, CBS TV Studios. Eye execs acknowledged that the ownership consideration played a small part in the decision to give it the Super Bowl spotlight over other options from outside studios.

“When there’s a jump ball, you like to go for the home team,” CBS Entertainment prexy Nina Tassler said Saturday during the Eye’s portion of the Television Critics Assn. press tour.

Rob Doherty, creator-exec producer of “Elementary,” admitted that being handed the Super Bowl berth was a little nerve-wracking — but in an exciting way.

“It’s a tremendous honor to get it as a first-year show,” he told the TCA crowd. “We’re going to do our level best to keep a lot of the audience in their seats after the game.”

And then some, thanks to VOD and streaming.

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