Ratings: No need to panic

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ratings_GENERAL

Castle will be renewed for a seventh season, so don’t worry

To See the Show’s Ratings for This Season (Live + SD & Live +7) CLICK HERE

Castle is the little engine that could. Going from a bubble show the first few seasons to a shoe-in the past three seasons (yes, I’m counting this season), the venerable ABC romantic comedy/drama police procedural has bucked conventional trends when it comes to repeats this season.

But what does that mean for the show in general? The number of eyeballs on a screen don’t matter in the long run. It’s the demo that matters the most in the end.

Castle right now is averaging about 1.96 in the key demo with about 10.02 million viewers. It’s a minor drop compared to season five. So much so, it’s not worth figuring out the differentials.

That’s why it’s going to get renewed for a seventh season, despite falling back in the second half.

Since its stagnant on the Live + SD side of ratings, let’s look at the Live + 7 numbers (briefly) because people get all excited and stuff when they see those numbers roll in.

(And I roll my eyes because they’re just camel fodder for the PR folks.)

Why you shouldn’t be concerned with DVR ratings?

On more than one occasion this season, the PR folks at ABC as well as the cast and crew have touted that this season is Castle’s most watched season. Yes, but not exactly. The show’s sixth season certainly is its most watched but from the Live + 7 (aka DVR aka time-shifted viewing) standpoint.

Based on our numbers (from Nielsen), Castle is up about three percent (or about 500,000 viewers) over last season. In terms of the all-important DVR demo of 18 to 49, the show is up about four percent over last year.

If we look at the increased percentages from the Live + SD to the Live + 7 the numbers are about 62 percent in the demo and 43 percent in viewers.

Advertisers could care less how the show is doing on the Live + 7 side. The time-shifted viewing numbers are excellent talking points for the public relations folks to talk positively about their products. After all, they’re always higher and people like it when they see better numbers.

The only numbers advertisers care about are the C + 3 numbers. The C3 numbers take into consideration same day viewing plus three days’ worth of DVR viewing of the average commercial viewing minute. And they don’t sway much from the Live + SD numbers. These numbers determine how much money a network can ask for a 30 second ad. And by default, helps the affiliates determine what they can ask for on a local level. The higher the key demo of 18 to 49, the more you can ask for in the end.

The Live + SD rating is a good gauge of what a show is doing on the C + 3 side.

So what is the point of the DVR ratings if they don’t matter in the end?

As I said before, higher is better and it makes people feel good. DVR numbers provide an insight into viewer habits. But at the end of the day, they are nothing more than talking points and have no weight on a show’s health or future.

What explains Castle’s increase in DVR viewership this season compared to previous seasons?

DVR ratings are pulled from the Nielsen households with those boxes. And since there’s about 25,000 Nielsen households in the United States, it’s a numbers game. As DVR’s become more common in households the ratings will reflect that increase. Nielsen families are signed up for two years and as people end their association new people come in to the metered market. This causes a change in the ratings from week-to-week and year-to-year.

Is Castle in trouble?

Even if the DVR ratings slide back to previous season averages, it won’t matter to Castle’s future. What matters is what the show is doing on the Live + SD (or C +3) side of the coin. The focus should always be on the live viewing.

And a show’s future resides on the C+3 ratings, the syndication, the plus revenue (books, tie-ins, CDs, comic books, etc.), and a few other factors.

The goal is to increase viewership. And if there’s no growth for a show (Castle is down slightly compared to last year but not enough to concern anyone), the network is faced with the decision of renewal.

It’s the main reason why Body of Proof was canceled. It wasn’t that ABC mistreated the show, the show lost viewers over the course of its three seasons. And it wasn’t going to gain any viewers going forward.

ABC has treated Castle very well by keeping it in the same timeslot, allowing for the plus revenues and securing a healthy syndication deal. But the fact is, the show has lost viewers over the past several seasons.

It’s not likely to grow its live numbers.

The best thing Castle has going for is its consistency and the fact its drops are the lowest on the network.

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