The new TV season is here and networks are pushing their promotional blitz touting the most watched, funniest, best show on TV. And TV execs scour the ratings the day after their show airs to see just how popular and successful their show is. For some, it may determine whether the show gets picked up for the year or cancelled after only a few episodes. TV execs have become less and less patient to let a show find its legs and its audience. Some shows get lucky; Seinfeld really took till its third season to become a hit. It was the pushing of certain execs that kept it going when it would have been too easy to cancel.
Today, those same execs might want to practice more patience because it is not just ho many are watching their show live, but also how many are watching their show on a delayed basis. " The biggest takeaway in the television business from the season’s first week is that first impressions of a new show’s success may mean next to nothing now. With about 20 percent of viewers watching episodes of network series on a delayed basis, the initial ratings have to be seasoned with much larger quantities of salt." I count myself among those 20% and I suspect that number is higher. Between DVR and on demand, there are many shows I want to watch. Two of them are on my DVR and are almost a week old, but I intend to record them and get to them even if I fall two or even three weeks behind.
The pleasure of watching shows on my schedule and not the networks is appealing, both because I can watch when it is most convenient to me and that I can watch and fast forward through the commercials. In fact, it is becoming rarer for me to watch live shows, except for sporting events and award shows. And so networks need to take total viewing into consideration, not just live, not just 3 days delayed, but in much longer periods than even 7 days. Add to that the online and on demand viewing of previous seasons and shows can actually start to demonstrate a growing audience appeal. Heck I still need to watch the first season of Homeland to catch up to this season's story.