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Ratings for DVR Live +7 come out every Monday, as well as the final ratings for the most recent Friday, and there's been a noticable trend with "Supernatural"the last few weeks.  The ratings are getting better.

For the week of Oct 24-30th, aka the week that "Supernatural" aired "Slash Fiction", aka the week "Chuck" and "Grimm" premiered and game 7 of the World Series aired, "Supernatural" again finished 1st in largest demo percent increase.  The 18-49 demo number changed from .7 to 1.2.  That's a 71 percent increase!  That's also the second week in a row Supernatural has gone up to a 1.2.  "Shut Up Dr. Phil" earned a 1.2 as well, up from a .8. (a 50 percent increase).  Prior to these weeks, with the exception of the opener, "Meet The New Boss," the DVR numbers were only increasing to 1.1.  There are only two CW scripted shows pulling better 18-49 DVR numbers than that this week, The Vampire Diaries and The Secret Circle.  (Source, TV By The Numbers)

As for the live ratings, Supernatural got a .8 in the demo in the last few weeks and around 1.85 million overall.  The ratings have actually most weeks been going up in the finals, in both 18-49 and overall (although only overall viewers went up for "Slash Fiction.")  Furthermore, the increases actually beat or tie most CW shows, which is considered an impressive feat for a Friday show.  

However, there are signs that the interest is going beyond DVR.  Today it was announced that Warner Brothers and ABC have struck a deal that essentially changes the way rights are handled in syndication and digital distribution windows.  Warner Brothers can now take shows to off-network syndication earlier and sell their shows to video on demand services like Netflix without having to have four years worth of shows.  This mirrors the deal that The CW (and CBS and Warner Brothers) made with Netflix and they are now expecting similiar deals to happen with CBS, Fox, and NBC.  

So why is this relevant to Supernatural?  Check out this section of this article from Variety.  Remember, "Supernatural" is owned by WBTV.

But WBTV negotiated for an accelerated syndication window because that's what its clientele wanted, according to Hunegs. "What we're hearing consistently from cable networks and television stations is they want our programming earlier," he said.

There have been some examples in the past of syndication sales made prior to the four-year mark, but they typically have to be individually negotiated. 

That WBTV also sought to secure the most immediate access it could get to the SVOD window epitomized by Netflix is reflective of how lucrative these deals have become to content companies. The studio's recent joint output deal with CBS Corp. granting out-of-season rights to Netflix for programming from the CW was estimated to be worth $1 billion.

SVOD sales may only get richer in the coming years as Netflix rivals like Amazon and Hulu Plus are expected to bid more competitively. SVOD is also important because the series that perform best there are the kind of highly serialized programs that aren't valued as highly in syndication, which isn't as conducive to the kind of binge-viewing patterns that Netflix invites.

What does all this mean?  People may not be watching live, but they're interested and keeping up by other means.  Supernatural has also remained consistent (and even improved) in the ratings through the season while many CW shows are declining in their numbers. No matter how meager the numbers are looking compared to the past, given the new curve, they're still good.  


# Geordiegirl1967 2011-11-14 20:46
Alice I agree the show is doing well this season. The DVR figures are great. They are also way up on previous seasons. Looking at total viewing, including DVR, since s4 shows that nowhere near as many people have stopped watching as the change in live ratings make it seem because of the increased DVR rates. Here are the numbers to back this up (note I have applied the DVR rate, which we only get for the demo, to the total audience). I just thought you might be interested.

Season---Avge live + SD ratings-------- +7 DVR %---Total nos watching
--------------- --------------- --------------- --------------- -----(inc on DVR)
4.------------- ----3.19m------ --------------- --- 14%------------ ---3.63m
5.------------- ----2.67m.----- --------------- ----25%-------- -------3.34m
6.------------- ----2.24m.----- --------------- ----40%-------- -------3.14m
7.------------- ----1.84m.----- --------------- ----66%-------- ------ 3.05m

So on live + SD we look to have lost 42% (1.33m) of the s4 audience. On Live +7 day DVR we have only lost 16% (580,000) over 4 years and including a move to the Friday death slot. And actually if you compare the back half of s6 when we were averaging 2.06m live, 2.88 live +7, we have gained slightly. Hardly the performance of a show that has gone down the drain and is haemorrhaging viewers as some like to claim.
# Melanie 2011-11-14 23:30
This is very interesting. Thank you for putting this together.
# Kalsridh 2011-11-26 08:58
How is gonna matter, whether the show is on Friday night or Thursday night, if you are concerned about Live + 7 DVR ratings? The fact is show has lost 16% because time slot doesn't matter for DVR. Did you add DVR numbers to season 4?
# Geordiegirl1967 2011-11-27 10:12
How is gonna matter, whether the show is on Friday night or Thursday night, if you are concerned about Live + 7 DVR ratings? The fact is show has lost 16% because time slot doesn't matter for DVR. Did you add DVR numbers to season 4?
Three things. First the night DOES matter. Fewer people watch TV on a Friday because they go out, so they don't look to see what is on on a Friday, so they don't DVR it. There is all round, including DVR, lower viewing figures for Friday nights. It is a fact of TV ratings life. SPN has suffered less from this than most because of its loyal fanbase, but it is still a factor. Smallville - which also had a loyal fanbase - lost 30+% when it moved to Friday.

Secondly - yes I did add the +DVR ratings to s4, but it was much less common then - only adding 14% to the live ratings. A HUGE difference from the current +50% figures we are seeing for s7.

Thirdly - yes the show has lost 16% in total viewers. My point wasn't that the show hasn't lost ANY viewers, it was that it hasn't lost anything like as many as the live ratings might make it appear. Also all genre shows lose viewers over time. You can see it in every show; BSG, SV, Fringe, Lost, Heroes and many more examples confirm this pattern. A loss of only 16% in 4 YEARS is a very low attrition rate and a heck of an achievement for a genre show.
# sweetondean 2011-11-14 20:52
With all the different platform availabilities for content and the lucrative deals being done by networks and content owners, the Nielsen ratings system is becoming a dinosaur. Networks like the CW, whose audience is primarily young, are impacted more profoundly by the desire to access content on alternative platforms. People just aren't watching TV in the traditional manner they once were. The audience’s need for instant access and viewing flexibility will only become more pronounced. The sooner the networks get on board with this the better. Content platform distribution deals greatly out way the dollar value of advertising revenue. Cable channels lead the pack in how they assess content, ratings and program positioning and I look forward to the day that networks follow suit. It looks like the penny is finally starting to drop. Finally! And Supernatural is beautifully positioned to ride the crest of this wave!
# Melanie 2011-11-14 23:38
Thanks, Alice. I always enjoy your ratings talk. I HATE it when people attempt to use SPN's ratings (which are good) to 'prove' that fans are leaving in droves due to viewer dissatisfaction because of some plotline or character use they don't agree with.
I'm glad SPN was moved to Fridays. I think it will probably stay there for as long as J&J want to keep showing up for work.
(Which I hope is for a few more seasons!)
# Sylvie 2011-11-15 08:09
Thanks for putting all this together. It's always nice to know that the show is doing well in the ratings.
# Daisymae 2011-11-16 10:36
I wonder if part of this is due to Hulu. Maybe new viwers are sampling the show and deciding they like it. I know I've started watching shows because I sampled them on Hulu. I'm a big fan of that website.