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Tuesday, April 12, 2011

About: Ratings and How They Work

Ratings can be extremely confusing to pick apart. I am constantly reminding myself of what all the little numbers mean in the grand scheme of things. So I thought I'd take a minute to break it down into something easily digestible. Now I'm no expert so this is a very basic overview. Feel free to comment with any additional information.  I'll use an example of ratings for a re-run of "Supernatural" aired on April 8, 2011.

1.52 million viewers, #12; adults 18-49: 0.6, #T11

Here's what each number signifies:

The total viewers represented in millions = 1.52
Rank (for the night) = #12
adults 18-49 rating = 0.6
adults 18-49 rank (for the night) = tied for #11

You'll see that the information is fairly straightforward. 1.52 million people watched that night's episode of "Supernatural" live or on their DVRs before 3:00 AM ET. Among viewers ages 18-49 (key demographic), it drew a 0.6 rating, meaning 0.6% of viewers in that age group watched the episode live or on their DVRs before 3:00 AM ET.

You'll often see viewership represented in a format that looks like this 9.2/15.

Rating = 9.2
Share = 15

A rating of 9.2 means that 9.2% of all television equipped households were tuned into that particular channel at any given moment during the broadcast.

A share of 15 means that 15% of households watching TV tuned in during the time slot.

The next day ratings you'll see the day after the show airs reflect viewership through 3:00 AM ET that night. This includes DVR viewership. But you may have noticed that numbers are adjusted later in the week. It's important to remember that ratings are tracked as a means to sell advertising slots, not to tell us how popular a show is. The Advertisements are sold on what is called a "C3" basis which means that all viewers within three days of the broadcast are counted. That includes those who watch using a DVR service.

Make sense? It's a really interesting process but I pity the fool who has to crunch all those numbers!

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