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January 15 2004

Overnights for 'Harm's Way'. According to Media Week, last night's Angel got 3.8/5. This is the lowest of the season so far.

Primetime Metered Market Ratings for the season:

Conviction 4.4/7, Just Rewards 4.7/7, Unleashed 4.2/6, Hellbound 4.4/6, Life of the Party 4.1/6, The Cautionary Tale of Numero Cinco 4.1/6, Lineage 4.0/6, Destiny 4.2/6, Harm's Way 3.8/5.

Crap. But what were they thinking, taking Angel off the air for a month while the O.C. kept building an audience?
Exactly...sometimes I think network execs are required to undergo lobotomies before getting their jobs...

Just a generic observation, not meant at anyone in particular...!
notice the spike in ratings in spike-centric episodes. don't worry, im sure the number will be up next week.
I think they just needed better advertising. I also expect next week's rating's to go up, for three reasons.

-it is not the first ep after the break, so more people will know about it
-it looks arc-centric
-directed by David Boreanaz
Doesn't surprise me. There was barely any advertising for the show during the break, plus there was no advertising at all for this particular episode. All we got was a few images from the 100th episode which isn't until February.
The WB had big splashy promos for other returning programs in heavy rotation while the Angel promo was infrequent and misleading. Not a good sign.
Dont worry, the overnights are both irrelevnet and missleading, they vary far too much with the final nat, for lowest this season to mean anything at all. For example Lineage got a 4.0, then the lowest of the season, the final national however was a 3.1, which was the highest rating for four episodes (and a big improvement on the previous weeks 2.8). Destiny may have improved in the overnights to a 4.2. But when the Final Nationals came out it had actually seen a large fall on Lineage (to a 2.7 and the lowest of the season). Its not even worth comparing this to previous seasons. All the overnight can tell is the audiance in 69% of the country. The remaining 31% can and does frequently make that up, or let it down. So unless it's massivly different (like at the start of the year) I dont tend to pay much attention to them.

The Fast nationals are accurate(ish), typically they wont vary by more than 0.1 (up as well as down). Provided the show isnt prempted in large markets (eg the Chicago premption for Conviction). Unfortunately with the futoncritic being forced to stop, the only place I know that does them is Zap2it, and it seems to think saying Angel was fifth in the slot is good enough. But they do list the WB as a 3.1 for the night and Smallville as getting a 3.4. Which could means a fast nat of either a 2.8 or 2.9 (yes I Know the avg of 2.9 and 3.4 is 3.2, but thats not how Zap2it works these things out, they round down for some reason). So we're likely looking at an improvement over Destiny, and possibly TCoNC aswell. Provided the show wasnt prempted in a large market at least (and I have heard of a few people who were prempted, so dont get too excited)
All hail Ocipital, king of the number crunchers! Nice to see you posting here darling, and keeping us all in check.
I live in Southern Indiana and we did not get to see Angel at its normal time. The local WB channel aired a college basketball game and then aired Smallville and Angel starting at 9:15pm. Does that affect the ratings?
All in all it was the worst episode of the season, so if that's the lowest, then at least we have that out of the way.
"I live in Southern Indiana and we did not get to see Angel at its normal time. The local WB channel aired a college basketball game and then aired Smallville and Angel starting at 9:15pm. Does that affect the ratings? "

I dont think so. Southern Indiana is not a name for a TV Market, so Im not sure which particular one you are in, but unless its one of these areas it accounts for less than 1% of the country and should be negligible.

New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Philadelphia, San Francisco-Oak-San Jose, Boston (Manchester), Dallas-Ft. Worth, Washington, DC (Hagrstwn), Atlanta, Detroit, Houston, Seattle-Tacoma, Tampa-St. Pete (Sarasota), Minneapolis-St. Paul, Phoenix, Cleveland-Akron (Canton), Miami-Ft. Lauderdale, Denver, Sacramnto-Stktn-Modesto, Orlando-Daytona Bch-Melbrn, St. Louis, Pittsburgh.

Only NY, LA and Chicago have a major effect on the fast nats.

Of course if theres lots of premptions in lots of different places there will be an effect, but someone somewhere is normally prempted
There is actually more than ratings for the network to look at, like in some areas where the WB has no affilate station some WB programing is sold to other affilates to air at a different date and time - these are also important cause they pay the WB to air the show locally. So support your local stations and send them thanks for showing Angel cause in the end they are the ones that have the ulitmate say if a show stays on the air. Also they are one of the most ignored groups by fans but they end up telling the network if they have a large ammount of imput on local channels and ultimately what they show. Esspecially since local channels tend to be the one's that preempt the show or place local commericals in the show. Plus you'll get more attention on a local level than sending a thank you on a national level, being that they would be more closely impacted by your viewing then the national networks are.
Thanks Ocipital I always enjoy reading your take on the numbers, a question if the overnights are misleading and irrelevant why are they still used?
"Thanks Ocipital I always enjoy reading your take on the numbers, a question if the overnights are misleading and irrelevant why are they still used?"

Speed would be my guess, but I really dont know.

Till this year they served a purpose, since the WB and UPN wernt covered by Fast Nationals, so it made sense then to use overnights throughout and compare on an even field. But overnights do have a few positives, they are a lot more accurate at what they measure (the 69% of the countrty) than the actual Nielsens (in non sweep months) due to a much larger sample size (20,000 compared to 5,000), and due to the way they are measured (electronically and automatically) there's no potential for human error. The main benefit is likely that this automation. It means that they come out ever so slightly quicker. We wouldnt notice the speed of these things on the net, but it matters to the printers holding a papers run, etc.
Even though misleading they are still used quiet heavily, or else why would anyone be paying attention to it or reporting on it. Not only by the networks but by the advertisers as well, so I don't believe they are irrelevant. If they were we would not have seen so many new shows or returning shows axed this season as quickly as they were largely due to the overnights based on the new way the ratings were being measured which showed a 40% drop off in the key demo male catagory 18-34. Nielsen later altered the way they took ratings to fall in line with their old numbers bringing it down to only around a 10% drop off for the year. However, by that time the damage to the networks had already been done and even though some shows will return mid-season a great number of them will not. So overnights do matter especially during the sweeps period when it gives the number crunchers in the network and advertising accounting departments an idea of how much they can project charging for commerical air time or the potential for an ad to hit the target audience it is looking for. Overnight ratings are all about projecting and the potential for the bottom line and no one ever said it was an exact science.
networks and advertisers take more of an average look at the audience and demographics than a week by week approach. If a certain episode falls short, then the clients booked in the show can get audience compensation, by having spots air for free in another show, or the next week etc. etc.
This does damage the network's ability to charge the full rate for the show if it becomes a pattern... then they'd have to lower the audiences estimates and in conjunction lower what they charge to air in the show... but in the long run one poorer episode isn't going to be too damaging to the big picture.
"Even though misleading they are still used quiet heavily, or else why would anyone be paying attention to it or reporting on it. Not only by the networks but by the advertisers as well, so I don't believe they are irrelevant. If they were we would not have seen so many new shows or returning shows axed this season as quickly as they were largely due to the overnights based on the new way the ratings were being measured which showed a 40% drop off in the key demo male catagory 18-34."

Thats not the overnights your quoting, the overnights dont even measure people watching, just whether the TV is on and on what program is being watched, so they couldnt possibly know from them what the demographics are. The final nats will actually be avalible now, they just havnt been printed or put up, but people in the biz can and have found them for us before (ECH for example). In all likelyhood decisions were based on final nationals, you just didnt realise they were avalible.

People pay attention to them, cos they want to know how a show did, and want to know now, and because people want to know the media provides. It doesnt matter how irrelevnt the Overnights are. a few months down the line when the WB are deciding which shows to renew, or when different groups debate and argue over whether Spike is a ratings draw or ratings disaster, they will use the final nationals, not the overnights.

Overnights do give an indication, there not absolutely totally irrelevent for absolutely everything, For a producer/net exec of a new show that just premiered there very important as (s)he can have no idea what rating it will be, in that instance the overnight is full of information. But we already know a ballpark figure we expect about 2.0 to 4.0, we expect Angel to finish fifth in the slot, because it does, consistantly, for our purposes they are irrelevent.

For example take a look at season 7 of Buffy. Chosen got the highest overnight of the season, a whopping (for the season anyway) 4.7. It was the highest overnight by 0.6, with STSP, Selfless, Him and CwdP on 4.1. Sounds like from that Chosen would easily be the highest rated episode of the season by quite a margin. But it wasnt, 7 out of the first 8 episodes all had higher ratings when the final national came out (and Him was equal). Help and Sleeper both only had 3.8's but still were higher rated than Chosen's 4.7 when the final nat came out (3.0 vs 2.9).

Incidently 3.8 to 4.7 is the entire range of Angel's Season 5's overnights ratings, so again I repeat the fact that Harm's Way getting the lowest overnight rating of the season is absolutely totally irrelevent. If we're lucky Marc Berman (mediaweek) will post the final national tommorow, if we're even luckier he'll do it without insulting AtS.

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