Fox Becomes First Broadcast Network to Drop Same-Day Ratings Releases

Empire Ratings Fox
Courtesy of Fox

Following the footsteps of sister network FX and others on the cable side, Fox on Friday became the first broadcast network to announce that it will no longer provide “live plus same-day” ratings information to the press. Those Nielsen numbers will still be available from other outlets, but it’s another indication that the ratings game has changed.

In an internal email sent to Fox staff members that was obtained by Variety (see below), Fox network chiefs Gary Newman and Dana Walden said the same-day numbers “don’t reflect how we monetize our content,” and that they hoped to “move the ratings conversation into the future.” The network noted that more than one-third of the weekly viewing by adults 18-49 is done outside the same-day window, and that the network had seven shows currently on the air that double (or more than double) their same-day audience across platforms this season.

Fox has been sending “same-day” ratings highlights to the press for years, but that will cease for all entertainment programming (other than live events) starting Monday. Last season it became the first network to stop distributing weekly ratings highlights. Variety this fall became the first media outlet to regularly report weekly “live plus-3” program rankings and trends.

In July 2014, FX was the first network to announce that it would not release ratings highlights the day after a telecast. “We believe they grossly mischaracterize the actual audience due to the multiple data streams and platforms,” said FX’s John Solberg at the time. “Therefore, our first acknowledgement of any ratings will be on a Live+3 basis and beyond.”

Premium cable networks like HBO and Showtime have adopted the strategy as well. All of the NBC cable networks, including USA and Bravo, hopped aboard earlier this year.

Fox hasn’t had a lot to crow about on the ratings front this fall — megahit “Empire” being a major exception — but the network is up 14% year over year in multi-platform audience. And in Live+7, it’s the only network that is on par with last year.



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






Filed Under:

Want to read more articles like this one? SUBSCRIBE TO VARIETY TODAY.
Post A Comment 17

Leave a Reply


Comments are moderated. They may be edited for clarity and reprinting in whole or in part in Variety publications.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

  1. jimmy says:

    Who even watches same day anyway? Dinosaurs. I frequently wait several days when my busy schedule prevents me from enjoying the program when it airs same day. The other networks will follow in a week. Must of us can delay gratification a day or two

    • Jacques Strappe says:

      Probably has nothing to do with FOX’s last place ranking among the big four networks in both live and delayed viewing ratings.

  2. blakecolby1 says:

    Nonsense. This is a lame PR stunt of a desperate network to bamboozle the confused public, who don’t understand the difference between C3 and L+3.

    The only purpose of TV ratings is determining ad rates. It’s not a popularity contest.

    Ad rates are based on the C3 or C7 metrics (commercials ratings) not L+3 or L+7 (program ratings). And C3 and C7 are similar to Live+SD (because people skip commercials on DVR).

    Even if L+3 or L+7 mattered (which they don’t), a flop is still a flop because higher rated shows also gain views on DVR.

    Sorry Gary and Dana – Scream Queens is a flop that failed to live up to expectations, no matter what metric you want the public to look at.

    • JK says:

      You are wrong, Ad rates are considering up to L+7, so correct your wrong assesment. And indeed a flop is a flop, but you have to go to L+7 to be sure of that.

      • blakecolby1 says:

        C+7? Yes.

        L+7? Absolutely not.

        C+7 is not the same as L+7, which indeed is irrelevant.

      • Jacques Strappe says:

        Since the majority of viewers fast forward the commercials, L+3 and L+7 measurements are utterly meaningless to advertisers who foot the bill for broadcast programming content . C3 ratings and to a slightly smaller degree, C7 ratings carry more relevancy to advertisers since commercials are viewed based on this metric. The advertising community has been slow to universally embrace the seven day span, claiming that advertising is too time sensitive. Meanwhile, enthusiastic CBS president, Les Moonves, continues to push for a C30 metric as the standard..

  3. BillUSA says:

    Doesn’t matter. I don’t watch television because of the advertising. I’m not one to be moved by an ad – unless you count pressing the mute button as a move. It’s all overblown but I understand that in order to reach the numbskull masses it would be insane of the sponsors not to take advantage of media. It would also help if what passes as entertainment these days was actually entertaining.

  4. vivi says:

    when you watch tv on demand , it does not allow you to fast forward the program. I know other programing don’t allow that either. so the ad will still serve its purpose.

  5. Now wouldn’t it be great if Variety reported Live+7 figures for total viewers and the key demos for all of TV, rather than focusing on less meaningful overnights or at best Live+3?

  6. TOTAL VIEWERS MATTER AFTERALL!!!!!!!!!!!! says:

    So basically what they are saying is that total viewers numbers is what really matters rather than the demo, because so what is your numbers doubled or tripled over a 30 day period. That doesn’t mean people watched the commercials that advertisers pay for. But, if advertisers are willing to pay for the largest possible audience exposure for their commercials, then I can see why total viewers is more meaningful then 18-49 demos and 18-32 demos.

    • JK says:

      No, they never said that, the demo is still the most relevant data, but i’ll be reported in Live+3 and so on, that demo doubles or triples in a seven period (not 30, +7 is the desired number for advertisers), so your assesment is wrong. Maybe you work on CBS, big total viewers, no of them in the desired demos

  7. jdog says:

    I’ve stopped watching the first half of football games because the final score is all that matters. Some advertisers actually care about when a program delivers the viewers they are paying to reach. Silly advertisers.

    • Bill B. says:

      If all you care about is the final score, why bother watching any of it. Doesn’t sound as though you like the game very much.

    • Cath says:

      Then why should they advertise in the second half also since people either go to bed before those late ones are over or they lose interest if the games are boring?

  8. Jacques Strappe says:

    I totally understand that FOX and all of the cable networks and other broadcast networks want to present ratings that reflect all viewers watching their programming on the viewers own terms but since advertisers continue to pay 100% of the programming costs on broadcast, don’t they have a say in this matter? Won’t live, same day ratings still matter to advertisers more than C3 and especially C7 ratings, regardless of how the networks want to spin this?

    • nerdrage says:

      I have a hard time believing that advertisers will buy this baloney. They know very well that the further you get from live viewing, the more ads get skipped or are viewed too late to matter at all.

More TV News from Variety