Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Will Schuester Needs To Get His $#*! Together

Brief followup on Glee, which I stopped blogging about episode-to-episode, um, around the same time I stopped blogging nightly TV reactions. Sorry!

Glee has a problem this season and seems to be continuing all the bad habits it picked up in the second half of season one. PROBLEM. But, y'know, it was still a crowd pleaser.

The problem Glee is having this season it, once the Rocky Horror episode has aired, 2 of 5 episodes built around / spurring from Will's insecurities and the Will/Emma relationship.

Remember "Sectionals" and how AWESOME the ending with the Will/Emma kiss was as the kids built from the bridge to the final chorus of "My Life Would Suck Without You"? Then in April when the back nine began... boom! Reset button! They were so cute together, they just got together, how could you break them up!?

Whatever. Yes. They are cute together. But that's not interesting. I don't mind relationship drama. In fact, it's the bread and butter of many TV writers.

I will repeat something I noted early in the first season and utterly stand by. This show is about the kids and when the focus shifts to the adults for anything more than a runner that provides some Sue Sylvester one-liners, it fails. They are my least favorite episodes.
- Acafellas
- Mash-Up
- Home (great music, though!)
- Britney/Brittany (4 of the 5 Britney performances were anesthesia-addled dream sequences and the 1 "real" performance was marred by Will's awkward presence on stage)
- The Rocky Horror Glee Show

The one exception to this was "Dream On" which was just awesome. So, y'know, it CAN be done! But the exception proves the rule.

Maybe it's just me. I don't know. But the show is so much better when the plot is spurred by something stupid / selfish / diva-ish Rachel has done, when the kids are issued a competition assignment to the kids, or, well, the finales.

Anyway, you'll see on Tuesday. I'm a huge RHPS fan. There are plenty of winks and shoutouts and it's faithful in parts, but... the story is complete weaksauce. And, from a gay male POV, I appreciate the scene where Matthew Morrison gets shirtless in a private rehearsal with Emma because he's taking over the role of Rocky. BUT IT MAKES NO SENSE. Why would he need to rehearse a scene where HE DOES NOTHING AND SHE SINGS AND SEDUCES HIM? And, if you know the show and extrapolate it out in the plot (not that they go there) would mean, at that point, Rachel/Will happening ON STAGE IN FRONT OF A LIVE AUDIENCE. And it's all about Will/Emma/Carl (Karl?) The kids are pawns.

There's a kernel of a great "message" episode in there if the Finn/Sam plotline about body image were expanded on. But instead we get a ridiculously big production mess, which is sadly more typical than not of the Ryan Murphy written/directed episodes.

And, yes, as above, I know couples need drama. And I have no doubt that the show is driving towards Will/Emma getting back together with Stamos being nothing but the catalyst for both working their issues out and finally being ready for each other. But at this point... I don't want Will with Emma. Because he SUCKS. Grow up. Let the kids have their time to shine and stop letting your issues, which you need to work through, affect them.

Anyway. I hope you find a way to enjoy The Rocky Horror Glee Show. I did not.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

The DVR vs Ratings

I started writing this blog post about the 10pm hour, and our barometer for success at 10pm needed an adjustment.

The reason? It was the DVR, of course. With DVRs in about 40% of American households (and always growing), the way viewers are watching television is increasingly time delayed. Yes, you've been reading sentences like that since 2002, but now we're really noticing it. And it's why there's so much rumbling on ratings boards and forums about the 10pm problem. You can really forget Live+7 data (which, as our friends at have tried to hammer home... really doesn't mean much of anything when Live data is the closest approximation we have to C3 ratings).

The problem shows up in comparing Live ratings with Live plus Same Day.

The problem at 10pm stems from the fact that humans need sleep. If only there were a cure!

No. But if something airs later and gets recorded, there is less time to watch it before the "Same Day" cutoff that allows the viewing to be counted on Live+SD ratings. I've even seen it in critics' writeups of the day's programming... apologies, I couldn't get to the 10pm show, I was still catching up on 8pm and 9pm shows. In addition, the time you spend watching your recordings of earlier shows - or the day before's shows, or shows from over the weekend you've saved up, or whatever - you aren't watching the 10pm shows live.

So we're seeing ABC, CBS, and NBC struggle to even crack a 3.0 at 10pm (okay, really, that's just CBS... ABC and NBC are often struggling to crack 2.0) in Live+SD ratings.

You don't have to just take me at my word. There's empirical evidence (I'm just looking at overall rating points, not percentages).

During premiere week, Glee added the most A18-49 from Same Day DVR: 1.6 points! It went from a 4.0 Live to a 5.6 Live+SD. Modern Family added 1.5, going from 3.6 to 5.1. There were several other big gainers (Big Bang Theory: 1.5; House: 1.3; The Office: 1.3; Grey's Anatomy: 1.3; How I Met Your Mother: 1.1; Survivor: 1.1)

The biggest Live to Live+SD bump at 10pm?

Private Practice. It added 0.5, going from 2.7 to 3.2. There were a couple 0.4 adders, like Hawaii Five-0 going from 3.5 to 3.9.

And, through three weeks, Private Practice's weekly 0.5 gain (it has repeated that figure each week) is still the biggest of any 10pm show.

This is not to say that EVERY 8pm or 9pm show gains more than 0.5 from Same Day DVR viewing. Far from it. But the line between shows that scrape by and real "hits" (by current ratings standards, not those of yesteryear), to me, seems like it's less about Live viewing than it is about Same Day DVR viewing. People seek those shows out, whether the networks are being compensated for that or not (and I suspect that those shows with the biggest overall DVR numbers will also prove to be the same shows that top viewing in other platforms).

If people aren't DVRing 10pm shows... well, that's why the ratings rarely top a 3.0. Maybe it's the shows themselves. 10pm has seen many huge TV hits... before the DVR came along. But the truth of today, for scripted shows (live sporting events escape this rule, as do certain reality shows like DWTS), is that you cannot be a big hit without a sizable DVR component. Though there definitely is a different between a show like Private Practice with a 2.7 Live and 0.5 DVR and Chuck with a 1.5 Live and 0.5 DVR (both during premiere week).

Let's move out of 10pm. Because, in really looking at the data... it's not really limited to 10pm, even if my initial hypothesis was only looking there.

Take NCIS and NCIS: Los Angeles. Both hits, both will be around for a while. NCIS clearly the bigger hit, right? Want to know the difference between the two? Hint: it's not Live ratings. NCIS just has about 0.5 more Same Day DVR rating points every week than NCIS:LA.

How I Met Your Mother vs Rules of Engagement tells the same story. RoE actually beat HIMYM in premiere week in Live ratings. But HIMYM, as above, added 1.1 in DVR playback. RoE only added 0.5 points.

Let's not even look at shows leading into each other.

Take Chuck and Undercovers. Week one, Chuck did 1.5 Live and added 0.5 in playback. Undercovers did 1.8 and added 0.3. Guess where they were in week 3? Chuck was 1.4 Live, and added that same 0.5. Undercovers had sunk to a 1.4... and added a mere 0.1 in playback. We all know the writing is on the wall for Undercovers, but the DVR rejection is the real issue. People who, thanks to marketing, programmed their DVRs to record it... decided to cancel that recording option or opted to not set a season pass.

It's why, I believe, it's harder and harder for new shows to hit it out of the park. People have their habits, the shows they record, and it takes a LOT to get them to add something.

The three shows canceled so far this season (Lone Star, My Generation, Outlaw)? Their premieres only got a 0.1 boost from Same Day playback.

So, no. We don't just need a new barometer of success at 10pm as I initially thought. We need a new barometer of success overall (and, really, a new standard or measurement). Because Live viewing is only going to sink lower and lower as DVR's penetration steadily increases and the difference between shows that stick around and those that leave becomes DVR playback.