NEW YORK, N.Y. – The Fox network said Friday it will no longer distribute measurements of how many people watch their programs on the night they are first broadcast, reasoning that they are a poor reflection of how television is experienced these days.
Some cable networks, including HBO and FX, have already taken this step, but Fox is the first major broadcast network to do so.
Overnight reports from the Nielsen company on how a program did in the ratings have long been the lifeblood of the television industry. Not only are they reported in the press, but Fox employees would get an email every morning at 8 a.m. PT reporting on how the shows performed the night before.
Starting Monday, that will stop, said Fox’s top executives, Dana Walden and Gary Newman, in a memo distributed to staff on Friday. The overnight ratings don’t include most people who save the shows on DVRs, stream them online or watch on demand, they said. Within a week, more than one-third of the youthful audience that watched a given Fox show saw it after the night it first aired.
Seven of Fox’s prime-time shows more than doubled their first-night audience when viewing over a 30-day period is figured in, Newman and Walden said. Nielsen releases ratings for viewership within 3 days, 7 days and 30 days.
“Fox is a company that has always prided itself on being forward-thinking, and nothing could be more antiquated than a decades-old measurement that reflects only a portion of our audience,” the executives said in their memo. “So together, let’s move the ratings conversation into the future.”