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ABC to stop paying attention to live ratings, giving smaller shows a chance to survive

Photo: Tony Rivetti (ABC)

Here’s some potentially good news for ABC shows that don’t necessarily have the pull of a Grey’s Anatomy or a Modern Family: According to Variety, the network has decided to stop using “Live+Same Day” ratings (which means exactly what it sounds like) to judge how well a show is doing. Instead, as Fox has been doing for the last few years, ABC will measure these things on a longer timeline, from three days after airing or seven days after airing and “all the way to Multiplatform 35-day” (which, again, means exactly what it sounds like). Basically, this means that ABC is taking into account the actual way that humans watch TV in 2019, which is “whenever they want” and not “whenever the thing is airing live.”

The reason this matters to us regular folks is that it could make a huge difference for what shows ABC decides give some leeway to in terms of ratings. As Variety explains, Cobie Smulders’ Stumptown has been “more than doubling its rating on average after three days of delayed viewing,” which essentially means that the majority of people who are watching it are watching it outside of the window that Live+Same Day would measure, and yet a lot of people are watching it. Stumptown is already benefitting from this and ABC’s existing faith in it, but this shift means that the next Stumptown—whatever it is and assuming it can find a big enough audience within 35 days of airing an episode—will have a better chance at survival.

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Really, it’s a wonder that any of the networks still adhere to the old model at all. You can’t expect us to watch TV when you tell us to watch TV, it’s not 1928 anymore!

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