Turner Time with Ratings

Awhile back, Politico’s Dylan Byers wrote an interesting piece saying that we should not care about the Sunday show ratings. One of Byers’s main points is that Face the Nation (which regularly ranks as first or second) does well because of its extraordinarily strong lead-in of CBS Sunday Morning. However, Byers points out that the viewership for Face the Nation falls quite a bit in the first few minutes as the Sunday Morning viewers change the channel.

Ratings are an important part of television as they help determine advertising rates, guest booking, and reputation. In the case of Meet the Press, ratings caused David Gregory to get fired. Due to the significance of ratings, it is important that they accurately size the audience.

In the 1980s and 1990s, Turner channels used what is called “Turner Time” for their scheduling. Under Turner Time, programs started five minutes later than usual, :05 and :35. The thinking behind this was that viewers who were watching TBS would continue doing so because the other programs had already been on for five minutes. In addition, one could stop watching an uninteresting program midway and start watching the Turner program without having missed anything.

If Nielsen and the other ratings providers wish to accurately say how many people watched a program rather than those who didn’t grab the remote fast enough, then something needs to change. By focusing on a Turner Time-like timing systems, we’ll have a more accurate sense of who is actually watching the show.


Categories: The Conveyors

2 replies

    • Nielsen does use diaries as one of their methods, but they are also able to get more detailed ratings in fifteen minute icrements.

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