Fox offers more complete picture of ‘Following’ audience

Data shows numbers grow with VOD, DVR viewing past L7 taken into account

If there was any uncertainty regarding just how much of an audience a broadcast series can draw outside its primetime premiere, consider “The Following.”

Viewership for the premiere of Fox’s drama on Jan. 21 grew significantly when auds across DVR, VOD, online and a repeat airing are calculated across the next 18 days, according to a breakdown of the ratings shared by the network.

It’s a more complete picture of audience patterns rarely offered by TV networks, which may be more inclined to share such data as a means of getting marketers to put more dollars behind a program’s cross-platform performance. Madison Avenue is under pressure from the nets to extend its ad expenditures an additional four days beyond the current C3 window.

While the premiere reached 10.4 million viewers in the live-plus-same-day frame, that number climbed to 20.3 million when all other windows were tallied up (though an online stream and a VOD play are not the same as a ratings point, as Nielsen TV measurement counts the average viewership throughout a program).

A Friday primetime repeat also contributed to the tally, grabbing 2.84 million viewers, and an additional 4.7 million sampled the episode during the L7 window, which counts seven days of DVR playback as well as the first three days of VOD. And then there’s the 1.38 million “initiated streams” across Hulu (including Hulu Plus) and Fox.com over an 18-day period and the 1.02 million that came to VOD between the fourth and 14th day.

Of course, the numbers offer little sense of whether “Following” is emblematic of how series typically do across platforms or just a successful outlier. Electronic sell-through viewing, such as on iTunes, was not included in the tally. Subscription VOD services like Netflix don’t apply because they don’t have in-season rights to “Following.”