Fox to Stop Sharing Same-Day Ratings with the Media

Michael Schneider
Ratings Watch

To paraphrase the famous X-Files slogan, Fox trusts no one's... live ratings.

The network has informed reporters that as of next week, it will no longer share daily ratings data -- the "Live + Same Day" numbers that includes live viewing plus any DVR viewing through 2 a.m. the same night.

As ratings for live and same-night viewing declines, the broadcast and cable networks have increasingly touted "Live + 3" and "Live + 7" ratings, which include (respectively) three days and seven days worth of DVR and VOD usage.

(TV Insider and its sister publication TV Guide Magazine already run a weekly ratings grid that ranks viewership by Live + 3).

Fox will only release ratings the next day for live events. Next-day ratings will still be available from a variety of sources, including other studios and networks. (Fox is likely hoping other networks follow suit.) But Fox says it will only report Live + 3, Live + 7 and multiplatform viewership in its future ratings press releases.

Fox joins its sister cable FX, which last year announced it would no longer release ratings for programs the day after they air, preferring to wait until the Live + 3 ratings are released.

Here's an internal memo circulated by Fox Television Group chairmen-CEOs Dana Walden and Gary Newman:

Dear Colleagues,

We are making a significant change to the way we communicate the performance of our shows.  Beginning Monday, you will no longer receive Live + Same Day Nielsen ratings.  No “fast nationals,” no “overnights,” “no prelims.”  There will no longer be THAT email in your inbox every morning at 8AM, because THAT email is no longer relevant.

The connections between viewers and our shows today are more complex and, in many ways, deeper than ever – but they no longer only happen overnight.  So why do we, as an industry, wake up every morning and talk about those Live + Same Day numbers?

This has to stop. It’s time for us to “walk the walk” and change the conversation. The Live + Same Day rating does not reflect the way people are watching our series. It leaves out the vast majority of fans who choose to watch on DVRs, and virtually ignores those who stream our shows or watch on demand.  And those viewers matter: Within a 7-day period, more than one-third of the broadcast 18-49 audience watches after the same-day window. Over 30 days, seven of our FOX series either double or more than double their same-day audience across platforms. And if you compare our total multiplatform audience this season versus last, we are up +14%.

The same-day numbers also do not reflect how we monetize our content. Half of our TV ad inventory is sold on a C7 basis, and we monetize our content on digital platforms like FOX NOW and Hulu, and through TrueX sponsorships – none of which are included in Nielsen’s fast nationals.

Every day, our creators, and their casts and crews, put their hearts and souls into making their shows as original and unforgettable as possible. And these creators deserve to work at a company that has a contemporary understanding of who their audience is and how their shows are watched.

Looking ahead, we’re going to stop circulating the Nielsen Live + Same Day ratings, both internally and to press.  We will not acknowledge them for any programming other than live events. We know that the daily external dialogue isn’t going to change right away, but internally, we can kick things off by shifting our own mindsets toward a more holistic measure.  Will Somers will follow up shortly to lay out what you can expect from the research team moving forward.

FOX is a company that has always prided itself on being forward-thinking…and nothing could be more antiquated than a decades-old measurement that reflects only a portion of our audience.

So together, let’s move the ratings conversation into the future. Here we go!

Gary and Dana