RATINGS NEWS—Going into its seventh season, Castle will be facing its toughest competition to date with The Blacklist and NCIS: LA airing in the 10 p.m. slot for the first half of the season. To put it in perspective, the last time the show faced this much stiff competition was in season five when it went up against Revolution and Hawaii Five-O.
For the season, Castle was down in the live + same day (LSD) ratings. It finished at a 1.9 in the 18 to 49 (the all important demo) and 9.99 million viewers. Where the show saw growth was in the Live + 7 Day numbers. There, the show saw a very healthy growth finishing at 3.1 in the demo (down from the season three highs of 3.5) in the key demo with 14.35 million viewers.
The networks, regardless how one tries to spin it, still rely on the LSD numbers plus a slew of other factors (syndication, international sales, etc.) when deciding a show’s fate.
Going into the new TV season, there’s been some movement on advertisers willing to pay for the C7 numbers. The networks are happy about this because those numbers are generally slightly higher than the C3 numbers.
For those unfamiliar, C7 (or C3) numbers is the rating for the average commercial minute watched when people watch on their DVRs. In practical terms, the C3 numbers are often the same as the LSD numbers. So any increase for the C7 will not be much, at best. But high enough for networks to be excited about.
Before I get into my ratings predictions for season seven, I want to clear up some confusion because I know there’ll be someone who’ll say “but wait…”
When publications such as TV Guide etc. publish their season ending rankings, they either pull from the three day or seven day DVR numbers. When you factor in those numbers, Castle does indeed perform better than most others. The Live + 3 numbers put the show in the 13th spot.
But for the LSD numbers, Castle was 43 among all shows (including reality) on network TV.
Castle is, for the lack of a better way of putting it, not improving season to season. It has fallen in the key demo steadily since season four. This shouldn’t concern anyone because all shows are falling back as more and more people watch shows on their own time table. This is why DVR numbers improved across the board for networks this season.
When you factor in this bit of information, it is not that Castle is improving it is that its season to season loss is less than most other shows thereby making the gap narrower thus pushing the show higher up in the rankings.
At the end of the day, it doesn’t really matter because networks will still fall back on LSD numbers.
And please, spare me the Nielsen ratings system is antiquated. It represents the the American demographic better than all other systems. In other words, if say the Indianapolis market is 60 percent African American (I don’t know for sure, I’m just throwing that out there), 60% of the Nielsen households in that market will be African American. The same holds true for head-of-holds, age demos etc. If a market is more older, then more older homes will be plucked for study.
It is not the network’s fault that Castle’s median age is 10 years older than the key demo. And as for that key demo—they are the people most likely to be influenced by advertising. There’s science to back this up—that’s why it’s that age market.
And nor is it the lack of promotion. There’s little evidence to support that more promotion equals better ratings.
If promotion were key in boosting a show’s numbers, then all new shows would be a smashing success because of the way networks promote them during the summer. Of course, we all know that most new shows fail.
So more promotion isn’t the key. As Castle has dropped since season four. And until last season, the show’s DVR numbers were falling back since season four.
All shows over time lose their base. Networks know this. When they see that the base isn’t going to grow anymore that’s when they reduce advertising for a show.
Castle is almost self-promoting. That’s another reason why the network doesn’t throw advertising bucks into the show anymore.
Grey’s Anatomy gets more promotion because it’s on the plus side of the 2 in the key demo and it can ride in on the Shonda Rhimes experience..
Castle’s ratings in season seven
Factoring season-to-season losses for five and six, I can say that the show will probably average around 1.6 in the key demo with about 8 million viewers on a week-to-week basis. Obviously, there’ll be some highs (closer to 2) with marked lows (bottoming out at 1.3) during at least the first half of the season.
The second half is a little more murky because The Blacklist shifts to Thursdays in February and is off the schedule in November. There’s no telling how people will react to State of Affairs which premieres in November.
Castle will be a third place show. It will struggle. But I don’t see the network pulling it early. However, I wouldn’t rule out a mid-season switch. There’s a reason why the network is airing Forever on September 22. They want to test the waters.
My gut tells me, however, the show will stay on Mondays.
Will the show go beyond this season—
The question on many people’s minds is will the show go beyond season seven. At this point, it depends less on the ratings and more on what Stana and Nathan want. If they want to go beyond and the show holds its own against the competition there’s incentive for the network to keep the showing going. But if the show struggles more than expected, there’s less incentive for the network to move forward.