ABC Joins Fox In Dropping Live+Same Day Ratings Reports, Reveals Major Multiplatform+35 Increases

Nellie Andreeva and Patrick Hipes

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ABC Entertainment president Karey Burke said Monday that ABC will no longer be sending out Nielsen Live+Same Day ratings figures for the network’s programming that isn’t live. The new policy begins tomorrow.

Exempt from it is the network’s live programming like sports, or the recent The Little Mermaid Live!, which scored well in L+SD ratings.

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The first stream ABC will look at is Live+3 data, followed by Live+7 and Multiplatform+35 Day program ratings, Burke said. She made the announcement in a memo to staff after the network brass had just received the first week of MP35 data for the current season. According to Burke, it showed that nearly all of ABC’s shows at least tripled their audience versus L+SD. The delayed viewership was up 30% vs. last year and up 56% vs. the year prior.

“This move aligns us with how we evaluate the comprehensive performance of our shows, how we monetize our business and how our audience chooses to consume our content,” Burke said in the memo to staff  (read it in full below). “People used to plan their lives around television, now they plan television around their lives.”

A ratings release that accompanied Burke’s note revealed that eight of ABC’s season premieres grew or held even With their year-ago averages, including stalwart Grey’s Anatomy, which was up 5% in MP35, 6.5 vs. 6.2 in 2018.

New Drama Stumptown, which has been a strong gainer in Live+3 and Live+7, saw . its premiere adult 18-49 L+SD rating more than quadruple, from 0.7 to 3.2.

In total viewers, eight of ABC’s premieres delivered at least 10 million viewers, led by The Good Doctor, growing to 17.2 million viewers, after 35 days of delayed viewing across all platforms, and Grey’s Anatomy (16.6 million). They are being followed by Stumptown(12.8 million), A Million Little Things (11.5 million), Emergence (11.3 million), Modern Family (11.3 million), The Rookie (11.1 million) and The Conners (10.4 million).

Among adults 18-49, five of ABC’s premieres hit the 3.0 rating mark — Grey’s Anatomy (6.45 rating), The Good Doctor (4.35 rating), Modern Family (4.28 rating), A Million Little Things (3.43 rating) and Stumptown (3.22 rating).

In an increasingly time-shifted viewership universe, ABC is following Fox, which in 2015 became the first broadcast network to officially drop Live+Same Day ratings reporting under then Fox Television Group chairman and CEO Dana Walden. She is now chairman of Disney Television Studios and ABC Entertainment after the Disney-Fox merger.

Here is Burke’s memo to staff on the change

Dear Team:

Every day we deliver distinctive, high-quality programming from world-class creative partners on our powerful linear network, support it with breakthrough marketing, and distribute it across digital platforms. Our viewers respond by watching, talking and posting, generating word of mouth that drives more watching (and more conversation) for days and weeks beyond the original broadcast.

As viewership has evolved, so too has our ability to capture and monetize it, from C3 to C7 all the way to Multiplatform 35-day. And going forward, that will be reflected in how we report it internally and externally. Starting tomorrow, we will no longer be reporting Live+Same Day ratings. The only exception will be live programming. This move aligns us with how we evaluate the comprehensive performance of our shows, how we monetize our business and how our audience chooses to consume our content. People used to plan their lives around television, now they plan television around their lives.

The first stream we’ll be looking at is L3, followed by L7 and MP35.

Today we received our first week of MP35. They tell a very positive story. Here are some highlights among Adults 18-49:

    • Across our schedule, nearly all of our shows at least tripled their audience versus LSD. This delayed viewership is up 30% vs. last year and up 56% vs. the year prior.
    • Including our #1 drama and our #1 comedy, eight of our programs grew or held versus their year-ago averages in MP35: Grey’s Anatomy, Modern Family, Black-ish, Bless this Mess, American Housewife, Dancing with the Stars, Shark Tank and America’s Funniest Home Videos. This follows the YOY gains for our #1 unscripted franchise The Bachelor (+19%) and this summer’s The Bachelorette (+18%) and Bachelor in Paradise (+27%).
    • In L35, ABC has 10 of the top 30 programs, more than any other network (NBC 8, CBS 6, FOX 5, FX 1).
    • Of all new shows, Stumptown is the highest percent gainer (+157%) from LSD to L35, and in MP35 it more than quadruples (+357%).

Bottom line? Our audience seeks out our content in massive numbers amidst incredible competition.

And speaking of the competition, though we don’t have access to their MP35 data, we do have their L35. In that measure, ABC has three of the Fall’s top five new programs – Stumptown, Emergence and Mixed-ish – and three of the top five scripted shows overall with Grey’s Anatomy, Modern Family, and The Good Doctor. And the other two – This is Us and 9-1-1 – are produced by our sister studio for other networks, which means Walt Disney Television is home to the top five scripted programs in L35!

As a broadcast network, our job is to captivate our audience and create a customer experience that makes sense for today’s world – that means allowing people to watch how they want, where they want and most importantly, WHEN they want. So our reporting will now align with our business and most importantly, our consumer.

If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to reach out to me or Elizabeth Sloan in Consumer Insights.



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