September 18, 2015
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“Modern Family,” and dozens of other shows benefit from Nielsen’s new ratings

By Kim Palacios Ratings giant The Neilsen Company has finally taken steps to measure complete viewership—this means factoring in not only shows watched in real time, but also those watched later, via DVR. For many shows, the new system of measurement has proven to have an enormous impact on overall ratings and, in some cases, has decided whether a show will be cancelled or can stay on the air. For this set, millions of views are happening after the show airs, on DVR.

“Modern Family” is the frontrunner—in the first two weeks of the season, an average of 4.5 million viewers watched a recording of the show some time after it aired. This allowed the original rating—of 14 million viewers—to climb to 18.5 million viewers by this method of accounting alone. Other shows that benefited greatly from the new system included “Two and a Half Men,” “Gray’s Anatomy,” and “Terra Nova,” all of which saw their overall reach bolstered by upwards of 3 million additional DVR views.

For other shows with smaller viewership, the DVR views still have a critical impact. The show “Fringe” saw a 45% boost in total viewership when DVR views were considered. Contrast the fate of ABC’s “Charlie’s Angels” with that of “Pan Am.” Both had nearly identical live viewership, but “Pan Am” had more than twice the DVR viewership of “Charlie’s Angels.” Notably, “Charlie’s Angels” has already been cancelled.

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About Kim Palacios

Kim Palacios is a San Francisco Bay Area transplant whose epicurean tendencies are matched only by her wanderlust. While not covering food, wine, and luxury travel for her column on, she guest writes for Travel Writers Exchange and a number of other varied-topic blogs. She is quadrilingual and holds an M.B.A. in Finance (neither of which she uses much these days). While not mourning the death of free markets and grumbling about the tax treatment of Californians, she enjoys film, and all things Twilight.

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