It’s a bird! It’s a plane! No, it’s truly the Super Bowl!

Rentrak has been effectively tracking the Super Bowl for a number of years from millions of TVs projected to the U.S. population and it is interesting to see that the game is still so dynamic.

First off, spending has continued to rise over the past four years and will continue to this year. The chart below (with data from Kantar Media: shows that the 2014 game produced more 14 percent more ad dollars than the previous year. Why was this so?

What drove the increase in total ad revenue for the 2014 game was the number of ad units sold as shown in the next chart. Even though the 2014 game with the Seattle Seahawks and the Denver Broncos was a blowout (43-8), and shorter in time (due to the fact that the 2013 Baltimore Ravens versus San Francisco 49ers had a 20-minute blackout the previous year), the network was able to sell 8 percent more paid ad time in 2014. The increase in the number of ads allowed the high growth in total ad revenue.

Percent Change Year over Year Super Bowl Ad Minutes

Of course, the real value to advertisers is the number (and quality) of eyeballs delivered by the Super Bowl. The overall audience is determined in part by the quality of the game, which was pretty good from 2011 through 2013. In 2011, the New Orleans Saints were in the championship for the first time. There was a lot of “heart” for them in the country after Hurricane Katrina. The game featured a Saints comeback as they pulled away in the last two minutes against Peyton Manning’s Colts. In 2012, there was the bitter rivalry and Super Bowl rematch between the Giants and Patriots, with a last-second New England “Hail Mary” pass falling incomplete. In 2013, the bi-coastal game of Baltimore versus San Francisco drew in more viewers with the help of an unforeseen “blackout” and eventual 49er comeback that fell short in the final minute. However, in 2014, the Super Bowl featured two Western teams with Seattle and Denver, as well as a 43-8 blowout that just wasn’t too compelling.

Rentrak Super Bowl HH Ratings

One thing all these games have in common is their power to deliver engaged audiences as indicated in the next chart. Rentrak has included commercial ratings since 2012 in our national TV service. When one looks at the commercial rating compared to the game’s rating, they are virtually the same. People like Super Bowl ads. They stay tuned in at a very high rate. In addition, people stay tuned to the game. Rentrak has a patent on a “Stickiness Index,” a measurement of program engagement that looks at how long people watch a program compared to other shows. The Super Bowl is about three times more likely to hold its audience. This is important because independent research has shown that the more of a program people watch, the more powerful the advertising’s impact is. Staying with a game means you are engaged with it and with the commercials. That is good for advertisers. 

Super Bowl 2011-2014

The 2014 game, even with the lack of excitement, still held both the commercial and the program audience throughout, as seen in the next chart. In fact, the rating delivery of a Super Bowl ad is directly tied to where it is in the game, not to audiences switching away when the ads are playing. As the game built in the first quarter, commercials were lower than the program average, but the game itself didn’t reach its peak. Once the peak was reached at about 7:30 p.m. Eastern time, ads from then on delivered higher ratings because of the overall audience level. At the very end of the game, there was a decline in overall audience, not just the commercial audience. 

Okay, I could prattle on about social media and the Super Bowl, and the attractive Advanced Demographics of the Super Bowl, but I can save that for another time. The evidence is clear, advertisers value the Super Bowl and the Super Bowl delivers value. Rentrak will provide a snapshot view of ad levels the day after this year’s Feb. 1 game.

By the way, I think this was a pretty good overview for a guy whose decisions in last year’s football championship pool were based on the style of each team’s uniform.

In case you don’t know, I am Bruce Goerlich, Chief Research Officer at Rentrak, the global standard in movie measurement and your TV Everywhere measurement and research company. I have been in the research end of the marketing business for more than 30 years primarily on the ad agency side, with my last stint prior to Rentrak in the role of President, Strategic Resources Zenith Optimedia North America. Somewhere along the way I morphed from young Turk to old fogey. Now that I have grey hair and am horizontally-challenged, I can speak with some authority on advertising and research issues – which I will do from time-to-time on this blog.

Rentrak and Millward Brown Look at the Value of Branded Entertainment

In the past I’ve had a co-author on the blog, but as a holiday present to you (and to myself) I’m proud that Dr. Raymond Pettit, Rentrak’s Chief Analytics Officer, is guest-authoring this post with Bill Pink, Senior Partner at Millward Brown. (Best of the Season to you and yours!)

- Bruce Goerlich

Thanks, Bruce for those kind words! Most of us who work today in advertising, marketing, and media often don’t think much about the history of our field. So perhaps it is surprising that Babylonian Kings “branded” themselves by stenciling their names onto temples they built, and that shop signs and street barkers were abundant in those ancient times. In fact, the earliest written advertisement, which sits today in the British Museum, is from Ancient Egypt and dated 1000 B.C.

Ship AdThe first paper package advertisement—found in an ancient tomb in central China’s Hunan Province—is remarkably similar to modern ads. The advertising “copy” describes the variety, quality and characteristics of the product, and the address of the store is included. Part of the messaging even embodies a “unique selling proposition,” presumably used to influence the reader’s purchase.

In England, the earliest surviving printed advertisement was a poster. In 1472, William Caxton placed his “advert” on a high traffic area—church doors—to announce the sale of a new book. In America, the earliest printed ad appeared in 1704. Oddly enough, this was an advertisement for placing advertisements, which would probably earn a smile from even the most cynical of modern advertising executives.

The point of our brief history lesson is to suggest that humans engaged in commerce have a fundamental urge to combine communication and creative efforts with tactics to “ring the bell,” get attention, and persuade or influence people to buy their product.

The basic principles of advertising still exist, obviously. Yet a rapidly advancing revolution is going on in marketing, advertising, and media today. It is unstoppable, driven by people’s ability to engage with multiple points of media content now—right at their fingertips. Enabled and enhanced by new technologies and devices, this “constant content contact” permeates all media and creates an increasing variety and abundance of behavioral data streams and cognitive/emotional markers that brands and advertisers are just starting to grapple with and understand.

Branded Content and Entertainment Have Arrived

BE CollageThe formula is pretty simple. Technology has expanded our ability to consume and experience media content in many forms, on many different screens in particular. At the same time, we are also better equipped to ‘”avoid” advertising at every turn. Yet we can, and do, engage with, interact, and experience the brand in content exactly where we are exposed to it every day: on TV, on our iPad, on the web, on our mobile phone, even on “out-of-home” screens in malls, hotels, theaters, elevators, and gas pumps!

This fundamental dynamic of “branding moments” blended into “constant content contact” has the potential to attract, influence, and build legitimate, measurable brand bonds and relationships, yet is vastly underserved (in terms of measurement) in comparison to traditional advertising, which has the lion’s share of attention. Rentrak has carved out a leadership position in the branded entertainment space by combining the power of massive and passive data with a unique branded content analysis system that is scalable, efficient, and thorough in coverage. Our tools now allow advertisers, planners, networks and agencies to understand the “total media” value of a telecast, film, or digital content, including the increasingly important branded content piece.

I want to introduce a recognized expert in the field of brand equity measurement and share a chat I had recently with Bill Pink, Senior Partner, Client Solutions and Analytics, Millward Brown.

RP: Bill, what is Millward Brown’s POV on the current ecosystem of brand measurement?

Brands need to include measurement across different data formats. In essence this means bringing self-report surveys (based on validated models of brand equity) and passive observation of brand exposure and experience together. The “questions” have not changed, but the best way to address them has, driven mostly by the proliferation of new forms of data we can now collect on consumers/viewers.

RP: What is your opinion of “big data” and how it might change the way we approach measuring brand equity?

BP: I wrote a POV for Millward Brown (entitled “How Big Data Liberates Research”) that posits that so called “big data” is actually a good thing for the long tradition and validated models of brand equity measurement that we have developed. “Big data” compels traditional methods to re-think how surveys are done, how they are constructed, and how best they can efficiently fill the gaps between pure behavioral/observational and cognitive/ attitudinal/emotional data needed to achieve a “holistic” view of brand equity. To over simplify, how best do we provide the “why” behind brand equity dynamics, to best complement passive data collection, which brings a whole new level of information to the table.

RP: Bill, that’s great. Rentrak’s massive granular data sets do open up an extraordinary opportunity to create a level of detailed brand intelligence for the advertiser that is unprecedented. The potential measurement synergy gains are real when we start integrating these two excellent sources of information.

RP: Bill, I am completing a new book entitled “Measuring Branded Moments in Media Content” that will codify and advance the measurement of what most call “branded entertainment.” Given that branding moments in content are rapidly evolving as a new media dynamic to complement traditional advertising, what new directions is Millward Brown taking to address this trend?

BP: Millward Brown has developed the meaningfully different framework, which is both infused with learnings from neuroscience on how people think, feel and act and is validated against in-market behaviors. At its most basic level, the framework presents three fundamental brand characteristics—Meaningfulness— Differentiation—Salience; these are the factors that drive brand equity success, power, and understanding of the brand. From this perspective, we can derive base brand equity, what constitutes a brand premium, and predictive patterns of brand impact. That sets the equity foundation to evaluate against marketing and non-marketing influences, including newer branding moments in content.

RP: I agree, and Rentrak is excited about the opportunities to integrate cross sectional brand measures and time series data to achieve new levels of insight. And we also look forward to tackling the unique challenges of branded content measurement.

BP: Yes. The difficult part is to then establish the right metrics to capture in content exposure for each consumer separate from exposure to more traditional advertising activities that surround the in-content activities, since consumers are typically exposed to both and that makes it hard to identify the unique effects of these activities. We account for that in the design of our research and analytic tools to disentangle these effects.

RP: Thank you, Bill. Clearly as the consideration of brand impacts begins to evolve from traditional exposure (via advertising, packaging, and direct mail) to include new areas of purposeful brand integration and the social media expression, Millward Brown’s thoughtful approach is highly valuable. Couple that with Rentrak’s massive and passive 31 million return path linear TV footprint, census measurement of over 117 million VOD-enabled TV’s, and our worldwide 36-country movie box office service and together we can provide a unique and powerful way to measure branding moments in media content.

Happy Holidays to all!


Want to learn more about Rentrak’s Branded Entertainment measurement service? Watch the video below!

Measuring Branded Entertainment - Rentrak

What’s really happening with TV viewing? People are watching great programs over 28 days.

A lot has been happening at Rentrak lately, but I wanted to take time to discuss an important subject.

The media and marketing trade press has been commenting recently on the decline in TV viewing, primarily based on sample-based data. One thing that has been missing in this conversation, I believe, is the element of time, e.g. viewing beyond three or even seven days, as well as viewing across multiple platforms. And what Rentrak is showing.

Rentrak has a way to look at what is happening in terms of time and key TV platforms. With our Multiscreen Essentials® (MSE) system, I could look at 33 common networks (see the list at the end of the blog), across third quarter 2013 and third quarter 2014. This service reports episode-level viewing for programs that were common across live TV, DVR playback for up to 15 days, and Video on Demand (VOD) viewing for up to 28 days. In both quarters, the number of episodes reported on was virtually identical (66.9 thousand vs. 67.5 thousand). A user can get episode-level detail—something that only Rentrak’s massive and passive database can provide.

The bottom line was that, for these shows (virtually all of which were primetime episodes), the total viewing was virtually unchanged. The chart below shows that the sum of the average household audiences was approximately 45 million for both years’ respective quarters.

Bruce Goerlich Blog Chart

Looking at the same data on a percent change basis year-to-year shows the same picture, but indicates the shift in viewership. Live is down, but the combination of DVR and VOD after three days is up, balancing out the total audience level.

Bruce Goerlich Blog Chart

Finally, it is clear that time-shifted TV viewers as well as DVR and VOD audiences, while still the minority, are growing as a percent of the total. The chart below, which demonstrates the share of viewership, shows that live viewing has dropped three percent from 2013 to 2014.

Bruce Goerlich Blog Chart

So, while MSE does not have all TV shows and networks in Prime, it is clear that consumers, when given the opportunity, will find their favorite shows and watch them. To say that ad-supported TV is declining without looking at viewership across time and major platforms misses the reality of America’s continued love affair with the tube.

List of Networks in MSE Report

ABC Family Channel
Adult Swim
American Movie Classics
BBC America
BET: Black Entertainment Television
Cartoon Network
CMT: Country Music Television
Comedy Central
E! – Entertainment Television
FX Network
MTV: Music Television
National Geographic Channel
National Geographic Wild
Spike TV
TBS: Turner Broadcasting System
TNT: Turner Network Television
TV Land
Women’s Entertainment Network

In case you don’t know, I am Bruce Goerlich, Chief Research Officer at Rentrak, the global standard in movie measurement and your TV Everywhere measurement and research company. I have been in the research end of the marketing business for more than 30 years primarily on the ad agency side, with my last stint prior to Rentrak in the role of President, Strategic Resources Zenith Optimedia North America. Somewhere along the way I morphed from young Turk to old fogey. Now that I have grey hair and am horizontally-challenged, I can speak with some authority on advertising and research issues – which I will do from time-to-time on this blog.

TV Engagement at the Local Market Level

How local TV used to be measured in the United States reminds me of the iconic fairy tale Cinderella. There was a wicked stepmother who treated her own daughters well, but Cindy got the shaft (or at least the broom). Local TV used to just be a hodge-podge of small samples, a mixture of varying methods of differing quality, which produced differing results, bouncing numbers, and many, many markets with hardly any clothes—I mean, rating information—at all.

Well, in real life, like the fairy tale, there is a Prince Charming to rescue the fair maiden. [1] Rentrak’s massive and passive measurement will soon include 60 million TVs and 26 million homes. That will be about one in four households. Our approach is the same in each market—365 days a year, 24 hours a day.

One great thing we are able to do is provide metrics that have traditionally been just the province of national TV—like engagement, or what we call “stickiness.” As noted in previous blogs, Rentrak’s measure compares the average percentage of a program or series viewed to the average of programs of the same duration to create a comparable metric across programs of different lengths. (It is easier to watch 50 percent of a 30-minute show than a 60-minute show.) Average percent viewed has been validated as being directly correlated to advertising effectiveness from work done at the media agency Zenith.

An example is below from an actual market with actual TV shows. This shows the straightforward rating (vertical axis), and average percent viewed (horizontal axis). For clarity, news programs are green diamonds, game shows are blue boxes, sitcoms are purple circles, and gossip shows are orange triangles.

Bruce's Blog Charts – September-01

Looking at programs this way gives leverage points to all sides. The station airing the 10 p.m. news can say, “My ratings aren’t the highest, but I have a high average percent viewed.” The agency can say to the station airing the third 10 p.m. news show, “You have high ratings, but your audience isn’t very engaged.” However, the “fairest way in the land” to look at the shows, is to employ Rentrak’s Stickiness Index—or TV engagement metric—as mentioned above. The chart below takes the same programs, indexes the ratings to the average of the selected shows, and applies the duration-based Stickiness Index.

Bruce's Blog Charts – September-02

There is not a lot of movement in the upper-right quadrant of higher ratings and higher engagement except celebrity news slips a little bit in terms of Stickiness value. The big news is the shift into the high Stickiness, lower rating quadrant of two news shows and a game show. This is because, compared to other shows of the same duration, they have a lot of engaged viewers.

I’ll be glad to share the actual data with any Rentrak client. And yes, these charts are produced along with a spreadsheet in Rentrak’s local system—though they have “been put in a prettier dress” for the ball.

Not a fairy tale and a happy ending!

In case you don’t know, I am Bruce Goerlich, Chief Research Officer at Rentrak, the global standard in movie measurement and your TV Everywhere measurement and research company. I have been in the research end of the marketing business for more than 30 years primarily on the ad agency side, with my last stint prior to Rentrak in the role of President, Strategic Resources Zenith Optimedia North America. Somewhere along the way I morphed from young Turk to old fogey. Now that I have grey hair and am horizontally-challenged, I can speak with some authority on advertising and research issues – which I will do from time-to-time on this blog.

[1] I’m not talking about Rentrak’s EVP of Local Television, Steve Walsh—though he could play the part.

TV Celebrates Itself (Why Awards Shows Benefit Advertisers & Actors)

Television’s grand pat on its own back—the Primetime Emmy® Awards—are coming up in a few weeks on NBC. And besides getting high ratings (last year the 65th annual shindig got a 12.0 rating by Rentrak*) and letting all those people in Hollywood with such low self-esteem receive a shiny object to bolster their low sense of self-worth, the Emmys® have multiple benefits for advertisers.

First off, let’s look at engagement. In terms of social media chatter, the 65th Annual Primetime Emmy® Awards received a 712 index in terms of volume of conversation. It was the top performing social media network primetime show for that month. Awards are something people like to talk about—as I have mentioned in previous blogs. But the real meat of it was in the ability of the 65th Emmys® to deliver Advanced Demographics (targets for viewers that buy cars, have good credit scores, etc., which only Rentrak can measure given our millions of homes). Now the casual reader can skip over this paragraph or just ponder the infographic below as your author gets into some media math. The smart media buyer (at least from the school of Irwin Gotlieb where I was taught) doesn’t just look at a program score. The first thing to realize, is that CBS Prime shows do very well against most key Advanced Demographics. For example, in terms of buying a new car, CBS had a 116 index. That is, the average CBS TV show (weighted for duration and number of occurrences), was 16 percent more likely to reach a new car buyer in the month of Sept. 2013 than to reach the general population.

Since it is difficult to buy a single program, buyers look at the index of the show compared to the average index of all CBS shows as part of the schedule package. In this case, the 65th Emmys® had a 122 index. So compared to all CBS shows, it had a 105 index (122/116). Complicated? Yes, but it is the comparison within a network within a daypart that drives how the TV business is mostly sold today.

Programmatic buying math will be for another day! So let’s look at just a few key Advanced Demographics indices for the 65th Emmys®. One where it didn’t do well (honesty is good!) is with buyers of new pickups. There it had a 91 index (all indices here use the method described above). For buyers of new luxury cars, however, the awards show had a 122 index, which ranked it number one among luxury car buyers for all CBS series for the month. For those with high Vantage (credit worthiness) scores, it had a 129 index. Okay, so it didn’t do well among conservatives (84 index), but the 65th Emmys® were number one with liberals—with a 119 index. And the categories aren’t just what you would expect. The 65th Emmys® earned a 117 index with high grocery spenders—again number one for the category for the network for the month.

So, to sum up, Tinseltown delivers a lot of people, a lot of chatter, and a lot of valuable eyeballs.

* : Kind of ironic isn’t it that if the Emmy® Awards was a person and we used traditional age/sex demographics, it wouldn’t be picked up in the tried and true swath of A25-54?


In case you don’t know, I am Bruce Goerlich, Chief Research Officer at Rentrak, the global standard in movie measurement and your TV Everywhere measurement and research company. I have been in the research end of the marketing business for more than 30 years primarily on the ad agency side, with my last stint prior to Rentrak in the role of President, Strategic Resources Zenith Optimedia North America. Somewhere along the way I morphed from young Turk to old fogey. Now that I have grey hair and am horizontally-challenged, I can speak with some authority on advertising and research issues – which I will do from time-to-time on this blog.

Buying and Renting Movies and TV Shows Online—Legally! It’s a Big Business and Getting Bigger. Rentrak Is There to Prove It.

Movie studios and TV networks are realizing there is a way to collect revenue on the Internet for their content directly from consumers. (Rentrak has been collecting this data since 2006 and we are permitted to show some of this data from 2012 onwards.) There are two main methods used. Pardon me while I go into “lingo land” so that you know what I am talking about:

EST = Electronic Sell-Through

  • The purchase of digital content by a consumer who pays a one-time fee for a perpetual license to view the content. EST is essentially the digital equivalent of buying a DVD or Blu-ray Disc (BD).
  • EST content may either be downloaded or streamed through services offering access to a virtual locker.
  • Major data providers include Apple’s iTunes, Amazon, Best Buy, Google Play, Microsoft, Sony PlayStation, and Walmart’s Vudu—to name but a few.

iVOD = Internet Video On Demand

  • The rental of digital content by a consumer where a fee is paid for a pre-determined window of time in which that specific content can be viewed an unlimited number of times. iVOD is the digital equivalent of renting a DVD/BD.
  • iVOD content may either be downloaded or streamed.
  • See above for major data providers.

Let’s first take a look at EST movies. What has been the trend in buying movies on the Internet? (Or from the cloud, which sounds cooler—am I showing my age?)

EST Chart

As the chart above shows, selling movies online is becoming a pretty good business for the studios. (Rentrak captures information from the seven major studios plus a number of independent studios). Since the beginning of January 2012 to April 2014, the number of movies sold online has virtually doubled. In addition, there are peak periods around Christmas—for gift giving—as well as when specific “hot titles” hit, like Disney’s “Frozen” did in March of this year.

However, the rental of movies online has not shown the same growth rate as purchasing—growing only about 25 percent since January 2012 as shown in the chart below. There is a key reason for this. Because EST margins are much bigger for the studios than either digital rentals, or DVD/BD sales/rentals, the studios are providing movies via EST with an early release window—usually 1-2 weeks prior to VOD, iVOD or DVD/BD. Bottom line, studios are hoping to bolster EST with early windowing for tent-pole titles and key independent titles. Consumers have an access-first mentality; if they can get the movie now, why wait? It’s the consumer preference for going to see a movie on the opening weekend expressed in a digital age.

iVOD Chart

In terms of TV shows, we can only show information on EST, because TV shows are not available via iVOD, which existed only as a short experiment by Apple with ABC/Disney as the only studio signing on. In regards to EST, the chart below shows that purchasing TV programs via the cloud has grown at about the same rate as movies—doubling since January 2012.

Web-based Order Volume Chart

And this is not just an online phenomenon. Major “traditional” video content distributors like Comcast and Verizon FiOS now provide an EST option for their customers. In fact, Comcast had a public success of its EST launch with the announcement that it took the number one spot in digital sales of Universal’s “Despicable Me 2″ in early December 2013.

I think that it is very interesting to see how careful (and smart) the video content providers are being in this digital age. Compare the growth in the digital sale of movies and TV shows in the past two years with sales and downloads of music. As reported by Billboard in first quarter 2014, digital music sales were down 13.1 percent and CD sales were down 20 percent. In comparison, video providers have been carefully managing their content, looking to maximize revenue as the consumer shifts from physical ownership of video to virtual consumption. Digital does not have to equal death. Digital can equal dollar$.

In case you don’t know, I am Bruce Goerlich, Chief Research Officer at Rentrak, the global standard in movie measurement and your TV Everywhere measurement and research company. I have been in the research end of the marketing business for more than 30 years primarily on the ad agency side, with my last stint prior to Rentrak in the role of President, Strategic Resources Zenith Optimedia North America. Somewhere along the way I morphed from young Turk to old fogey. Now that I have grey hair and am horizontally-challenged, I can speak with some authority on advertising and research issues—which I will do from time-to-time on this blog.

Social Media & Television: Which Cable Programs Get the Buzz?

“Happy talk, keep talking happy talk.
Talk about things you’d like to do.
You gotta have a dream. If you don’t have a dream,
How you gonna have a dream come true?”

“South Pacific” – Music by Richard Rodgers and lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II.

As reported in my May 19 blog post, Rentrak has been partnering with social media tracking companies over the past several years and publishing a weekly “TV Engagement” or “Stickiness” report that covers ad-supported primetime programs. In that blog, I talked about the level of social media chatter about network TV shows in Prime.

That blog pointed out that if an advertiser is looking for broadcast network Prime shows that are the “crème de la crème” in generating buzz, they should look to “Awards” and “Sports” first. “Drama,” “Nighttime Soaps” and “Teen-Oriented” programs also get a lot of talk. It is interesting to note that this reflects the conventional wisdom of what shows used to get talked about the morning after they aired around the water cooler or in the halls of high school.

As mentioned before, in 2013, we partnered for most of the year with Trendrr, and then later with General Sentiment, to create our weekly reports on the most “buzzed” about ad-supported Primetime broadcast network and cable TV programs. The two companies have different ways of scoring social media chatter about TV shows, so to make a fair comparison for the whole year, I averaged each service’s score and indexed their reported programs to their own average. So what you will see in the following charts are program counts for both services for the entirety of 2013, as well as the average indices by genre for both services.

In this blog, I will focus just on ad-supported cable shows in Prime. It is very important to note that all of these ad-supported Prime cable shows were the most talked about ad-supported Prime cable shows during the week in which they aired. An index above 100 just means that, within the most talked about ad-supported Prime cable shows, the show was even more talked aboutAn index below 100 means that, within the most talked about ad-supported Prime shows, this show was less talked about.

So let’s look first at the volume of chatter by program genre for ad-supported cable Prime shows in 2013. As before, I’ve done my own personal classification here (in part to protect the innocent), but also to reflect the nuances of social media buzz about TV programs.

# of Cable Shows by Genre

The chart above shows the number of times a show in this genre appeared in our weekly list for ad-supported cable Prime top 20 most talked about shows in 2013. It is a count of occurrences on our weekly list. The greatest number of talked about ad-supported cable Prime shows in 2013 were in the “Reality” genre, followed by “Drama,” “Sports” and “Comedy.” “Drama,” “Reality” and “Comedy” also were often talked about for broadcast Prime as was pointed out in the May 19 blog. However, “Competition” (e.g. “So You Think You Can Dance”) was number the number one genre for the broadcast networks, but was number six for cable.

The chart below looks at the average index of the shows in the genre compared to the average of all talked about shows over 2013 in ad-supported cable Prime. As in broadcast Prime, Award shows on ad-supported cable networks are the most talked about programming. The high score for awards shows in cable is due to not only the basic human appeal of talking about winners (and losers) but also to the fact that cable awards shows are geared to younger viewers (e.g. music awards) who are more likely to be chatting with each other.

Average Genre Index

So “the end is our beginning” as T.S. Eliot said. What generates conversation about TV shows? What has always generated conversation: shows with glamorous stars, shows with an edge of competition with winners and losers, shows with dramatic plot twists, shows that really make you laugh, and shows that have a particular appeal to the young. This holds true across broadcast and cable.

“It might be a fight like you see on the screen,
A swain getting slain for the love of a queen,
Some great Shakespearean scene,
Where a ghost and a prince meet,
And everyone ends in mincemeat. 

A clown with his pants falling down,
Or the dance that’s a dream of romance,
Or the scene where the villain is mean.
That’s entertainment!”

“That’s Entertainment!” – Music by Arthur Schwartz and lyrics by Howard Dietz.