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Whedonesque - a community weblog about Joss Whedon
"But you've never fought me."
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September 21 2002

Low Overnight Ratings for Firefly premiere. The show averaged 4.1/8, coming in joint third for the 8pm time slot.

More proof for the doomsayers who say Fox can not have a successful show in the Friday 8pm time slot. Let's hope for Joss's sake the numbers will go up as the reviews seem fairly positive.

It wasn't too bad, but if I hadn't already known about it, from being a member here and a rabid BtVS fan, I wouldn't have known it was on last night---maybe it's Fox, but I haven't seen much advertising. I did tape it.
I've no idea what 4.1/8 means. What's average? What's good?
Nielsen's What is a rating and a share? and What ratings mean: 4.1 percent of the total television households watched Firefly, while 8 percent of all households actually watching tv at that time were tuned to Firefly.

for the 2001 - 2002 season, 105.5 million households were estimated to have televisions; each rating percentage point represents an estimated 1.055 million people. assuming that this season's estimated television households is about the same as last season's (and that Zap2it got the number right), approximately 4.3 million households watched Firefly. TVtracker says Firefly pulled a 4.9, or 5.1 million households, and placed first among adults 18 - 49 for its timeslot.

what's average? what's good? depends on the day, time and network, really. while UPN or WB would be pleased with a 4.1 (and very pleased with a 4.9), to the Big Four, that would usually mean 4th place.

for comparison and edification: Nielsen Ratings for Buffy's Sixth Season
The best hope for Firefly is that it follows the pattern of other successful Friday-night Fox shows... and moves to Sundays.

On a slightly different subject, I wonder how the TiVo generation is being reflected in things like Nielsen ratings. I could probably find out with a little research, but I guess I'm just lazy. Is it possible that a show might be wildly successful in its target demo, but that that success might not be reflected through the traditional metrics? Just a thought.
holy moly, i promise not to post any more on this, after this.

I too wonder whether TiVo is reflected in the Nielsen ratings, and VCRs too. I don't know much about how TiVos work (most of my TiVo knowledge comes in the form of testimonials from a certain Alabama teacher), so I don't know what kind of obstacles there would be. What of people who'll be watching Smallville this season, but taping Haunted to watch later? VCRs have been around for close to forever now, so you'd think Nielsen would already be accounting for Watch One/Tape Another viewers. Or they may not, since ratings are used to sell ad time, and advertisers know that something that's been taped will also be FFed through the commercials.

I have many questions about how accurate the Nielsens are. Supposedly, it's a random sampling of households chosen to be Nielsen families, but would there be certain demographics who are more likely to pass on the invitation? Nielsen claims that their percentage of black Neilsen families is close to the percentage of blacks in the general population. Does that mean that Nielsen seeks out a certain number of black families intentionally? Do they take urban vs. rural into account and seek to balance those in their chosen families? Would that skew the numbers in any way, depending on how they seek and convince these folks?

What of people from different households who get together and watch the show in a single household? In college, my dorm had its weekly ST:TNG and DS9 watch parties with thirty or forty people. What of those? I know Nielsen focuses on Households instead of individual viewers, but the Nielsen info page says that houses with multiple televisions receive a box for every television, so does a single household with parents and kids then count for two or more households if every family member watches something different at the same time?

Some comparison info for another Fox Friday 8pm program: The Lone Gunmen (a little info for Harsh Realm and Millennium just below TLG chart). The three hightest rated episodes (March 4/debut, 11, and 18) were Sunday episodes, while the highest Friday episode was a full share/1.5% below the lowest Sunday.

even better than me babbling, Futon Critic has a comparison of Fox Friday night premieres.
You'd think Fox would try another type of show in that slot.

Is it too early to start the "Save Firefly" campaign? Maybe email UPN and WB to pick it up after Fox dumps it suddenly in 2 or 3 weeks?
either of the little networks would be smart to pick it up when Fox decides to drop it for "When Elderly Police Animals Attack!" reruns.

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