Welcome to MorganWick.com! This is the official site for all of Morgan Wick's projects, writings, and other cool stuff. Find out more about Morgan Wick and about this site.

Start browsing this site by using the links to the left to get to one of the MorganWick.com subsites. Or navigate Da Blog using the elements on both the left and the right.

If you're looking for the Sandsday comic strip, click here.

Wednesday, January 28 TV Ratings Report

Time for another ratings post proof-of-concept! This time I’m wading into the general ratings world. Ever since The Futon Critic stopped doing final ratings last year, we don’t have a site that lists broadcast and cable shows alongside each other, and we’ve never had them listed on a time-period basis like this so we can get some perspective on how popular cable shows really are and what shows would be tops on TV if broadcast still trumped cable. I aim to list the top five English-language shows in primetime at any given time in 18-49, and the top five original shows in 18-49, with Univision included for completeness, and when TVMI lists cable shows I’ll list the most-watched shows on television as well.

Sources: TVbytheNumbers (top 18-49 shows, cable news ratings), TV Media Insights (all broadcast shows, most-viewed shows), TV Recaps and Reviews (additional ratings for original cable shows). Shows in bold are new or live. Read More »

Weekend Sports Ratings for January 24-25

As I acknowledged a while back, the only three networks that can regularly top 100,000 viewers for their studio shows are ESPN, ESPN2, and NFL Network, making it pointless to do a daily Studio Show Scorecard until other networks can at least reach that threshold. Until then, there really isn’t any competition for ESPN. In the meantime, I’m going to work on templates for a couple different formats for this post. This one I’m already pretty sure I won’t be using, at least before the studio shows justify the scorecard, as it’s proved too time-consuming.

Most viewership numbers for events on cable from Sports TV Ratings, 18-49 numbers from TV Recaps and Reviews or TVbytheNumbers. All ratings for primetime events on broadcast from TV Media Insights, overnights for daytime events from ShowBuzz Daily. Read More »

Ensuring a #CommActUpdate for the Twenty-First Century

The Republican-controlled House Energy and Commerce Committee has been collecting input for a comprehensive update of the Communications Act for over a year now, with an eye towards a “technology-neutral” law that avoids placing different technologies in different regulatory “silos” and instead treats equivalent technologies equivalently. Towards that end, it has been issuing a series of white papers on issues surrounding the effort, and the most recent one concerns an issue that, perhaps even more than net neutrality, illustrates how much this effort is desperately needed: the video marketplace.

I sent in my thoughts on the state of the video marketplace and on the more general question of what I would like to see in a technology-neutral Communications Act, which you can see here. You may also want to read the comments I sent to the FCC on its ownership review and on a la carte television, assuming the FCC site is up.

2014 MLB Regular Season Ratings Wrap-Up

Putting this post together was a mess. This year coincided with the Son of the Bronx shutdown, which affected MLB far more than other sports, and while I did lean on the guy to provide MLB Network and other baseball ratings from the “gap” I didn’t realize he would only provide the top five shows on MLB Network his first few weeks on Awful Announcing, probably not enough to cover every game. His early days at AA also coincided with the World Cup dominating ESPN’s top ten, meaning I might not even have every ESPN window with over a million viewers. Conversely, he started including numbers for the TBS game late in the season (which does about as well as a medium-high MLBN game, in other words, even worse than I thought) but not quite throughout TBS’ portion of the season.

Still, here’s every MLB game I do have numbers for. A couple of factors led me to not split this post up into two parts like I did last year. First, the new TV contract meant each Saturday had at least one game on Fox Sports 1 (as Fox broadcast’s schedule compressed down to just Baseball Night in America and some September windows), and with no one knowing where FS1 was until the postseason (and only needing to find out if their team on a Fox RSN had a “regional elevate” game), many FS1 games, especially those that weren’t regional elevates, had numbers on par with MLBN games. The other, of course, was having access to TBS figures. In addition, there seemed to be more games scheduled for ESPN2 than last year, and they got some bad ratings, on par with those other three networks I just mentioned. Finally, with Derek Jeter’s last home game getting a million viewers just on YES, I rolled its numbers up with MLB Network’s figures, and the result is a game that had more viewers than any window that wasn’t on Fox or Sunday Night Baseball, before MASN’s Orioles broadcast is even factored in. Counting an RSN might be a dicey proposition – those numbers aren’t widely available for most games, and the most-watched games across RSNs and (if applicable) national telecasts would quickly fill up with Yankees and Red Sox games – but it’s ultimately the same principle as including local simulcasts of cable NFL games, and this was truly rarified air.

Numbers on cable where household ratings are available or where 18-49 ratings are not, including all games on TBS or MLB Network, from Son of the Bronx or Awful Announcing. Numbers on broadcast from SportsBusiness Daily or Sports Media Watch. 18-49 numbers, where available, from TVbytheNumbers, The Futon Critic, or TV Media Insights. Read More »

Predictions for the Pro Football Hall of Fame Class of 2015

The Pro Football Hall of Fame’s selections are performed by a panel of 46 leading NFL media members including representatives of all 32 NFL teams, a representative of the Pro Football Writers of America, and 13 at-large writers.

The panel has selected a list of 15 finalists from the modern era, defined as playing all or part of their careers within the last 25 years. A player must have spent 5 years out of the league before they can be considered for induction into the Hall of Fame. Players that last played in the 2009 season will be eligible for induction in 2015.

During Super Bowl Weekend, the panel will meet and narrow down the list of modern-era finalists down to five. Those five will be considered alongside one senior candidate, selected by a nine-member subpanel of the larger panel last August, and two contributors (not players or coaches), selected by another nine-member subpanel, for a total of eight. From this list, at least four and no more than eight people will be selected for induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

My prediction for the Pro Football Hall of Fame Class of 2015 is:

Marvin Harrison
Jerome Bettis
Will Shields
Junior Seau
Charles Haley
Mick Tingelhoff
Bill Polian
Ron Wolf

Hall of Fame Game: Steelers v. Giants

Overall Sports Network Ratings for 2014

Primetime – 2014
Vwr
(000)
18-49
(000)

1

2321

1010

=

+6%

#1

2

469

174

=

-2%

#3

3

385

181

=

-4%

#2

4

340

140

+1

+46%

#5

5

300

142

-1

+8%

#4

6

132

46

=

-6%

#8

7

128

62

+1

+10%

#6

8

123

35

-1

-11%

#10

9

106

44

=

-8%

#9

10

100

49

=

-4%

#7

Total Day – 2014
Vwr
(000)
18-49
(000)

1

1016

505

=

+5%

#1

2

274

127

=

0%

#2

3

164

84

=

+2%

#3

4

148

68

+2

+57%

#4

5

131

52

-1

+10%

#5

6

100

22

-1

-7%

#10

7

71

27

=

+4%

#8

8

62

26

+1

+3%

#9

9

60

33

-1

-8%

#6

10

58

31

=

+5%

#7

This is a little later than I’d hoped because I hoped to get comparable year-to-year measures in overall rank from TVNewser, but their year-end wrap-up only had “preliminary” yearly averages through December 23rd. The Nielsen year always begins on Monday and ends on Sunday, so it was always going to stop short of the calendar year, but it still should have run through the 28th.

ESPN nudged ahead of USA Network to take the top spot in primetime viewership in all of cable for the first time ever. ESPN had some increases in the raw numbers, but the real cause of ESPN’s jump was USA losing a fifth of its audience. Did WWE Raw, USA’s flagship show, fall off a cliff in the ratings? Did USA lose other popular shows from 2013 to 2014? I don’t know.

Last year FS1, spending most of the year as Speed, had the edge over NBCSN in total day but NBCSN had the edge in primetime. This time it’s the reverse: FS1 jumped up in both measures and was the fastest-growing sports network in primetime (coming almost as close to NFL Network as it was to NBCSN) with the addition of the baseball playoffs, but NBCSN shot past not only FS1 but corporate sibling Golf Channel as the fastest growing network in total day thanks to the Winter Olympics, but new records for Premier League and Formula One coverage also helped tremendously. NBATV also jumped ahead of Golf Channel in primetime; NBATV had its most-watched programs ever during the NBA playoffs, but did Golf Channel see some of its primetime shows, like reality show Big Break, slip in the ratings? ESPNU also nudged ahead of ESPNEWS in total day, another milestone in the continuing burial of ESPNEWS.

The 18-49 rankings in primetime see a lot of changes from the overall rankings; NFL Network leaps ahead of ESPN2, FS1 and NBCSN swap places again thanks to FS1’s reliance on old-skewing baseball, and Golf Channel and MLB Network take a tumble while NBATV and ESPNEWS shoot up. By contrast, the 18-49 total-day rankings mostly mirror the overall rankings, except that Golf Channel skews particularly old, with under a quarter of its audience in the money demo. MLB Network and ESPNU also skew old compared to the others, which except for “the insurgents” (NBCSN and FS1) have half or more of their total-day audience coming from 18-49. Most networks seem to skew older in primetime than in total day. (All 18-49 numbers from here.)

Not shown: Fox Sports 2’s ratings, already pathetic, actually slipped by a third in both measures from last year when it was Fuel for most of the year, as what little attractive events it had, mostly UFC cards, moved to FS1. Many of FS2’s most popular shows in 2014 were actually overflow from FS1.

After the jump, charts, based on SportsBusiness Daily’s numbers here and elsewhere, so you can see how all this has changed over time! Read More »

The Top 20 Most-Watched Shows of Fox Sports 1’s First Year

My hope for this post was to encompass everything from the first year of Fox Sports 1 to get a good sense of a “typical” year in the life of FS1, even if it didn’t have the MLB playoffs, the World Cup, or US Open, before the same event from multiple years layered on top of each other, and I hoped to go as deep as I did for my ESPNU post. But this was the year of the Son of the Bronx shutdown and subsequent move to Awful Announcing – which might not be so bad, except the “gap” between the two coincided with NASCAR’s All-Star Race weekend, and NASCAR skews so old that a Camping World Truck Series race that weekend that had over a million viewers didn’t show up on the TVbytheNumbers list, so I can’t be completely sure I even have every program with over a million viewers. (In any case, we already know the Speed audience remains a disproportionate portion of the FS1 audience; the top five shows are all NASCAR programming, and the next two are Fox Sports Live editions following NASCAR programming, which I now suspect got such great retention using the same trick FSL used during the baseball playoffs of cutting to FSL as soon as possible after the race ends.) I might maintain a regularly-updated page of FS1′s ratings like I was going to do for ESPNU, or I might not; I do know I’ll repost this list, somewhere, once I get caught up and can include e.g. the MLB playoffs. Underlined events spent time as the most-watched show in FS1 history.

   

Vwr (mil)

HH

18-49

Time

1

NASCAR: Sprint Unlimited

3.526

2.0

0.9

2/15 8:00 PM

2

NASCAR All-Star Race

3.482

2.2

0.8

5/17 8:40 PM

3

NASCAR: Food City 500
(post-rain delay portion)

3.227

2.0

0.9

3/16 7:00 PM

4

NASCAR: Budweiser Duels

3.122

1.9

0.8

2/20 7:00 PM

5

NASCAR Winner’s Circle

2.863

1.6

0.9

3/16 9:30 PM

6

Fox Sports Live

2.584

 

0.6

5/17 11:21 PM

7

Fox Sports Live

2.272

1.4

0.6

2/20 10:00 PM

8

CFB: Oregon @ Oregon State

2.179

1.3

0.6

11/29 7:00 PM

9

CFB: Oklahoma @ Baylor

2.11

1.3

0.7

11/7 7:30 PM

10

NASCAR All-Star Race Qualifying

2.014

  

0.5

5/17 7:02 PM

11

UFC Fight Night: Shogun v. Sonnen

1.782

1.0

 

8/17 8:00 PM

12

CFB: Oregon @ Washington

1.765

1.0

  

10/12 4:00 PM

13

UFC 168 Prelims

1.554

0.8

0.8

12/28 8:00 PM

14

NASCAR Camping World Truck Series

1.502

0.9

0.3

2/21 8:00 PM

15

UFC Fight Night

1.4

0.8

0.6

2/15 10:30 PM

16

NASCAR RaceDay

1.357

0.8

 

2/15 6:25 PM

17

NASCAR: Sprint Showdown

1.217

  

0.2

May 16

17

UFC Fight Night

1.217

0.6

0.6

6/7 10:00 PM

19

NASCAR Victory Lane

1.19

0.7

0.3

3/16 9:41 PM

20

CFB: Washington State @ Oregon

1.135

0.6

0.4

10/19 10:00 PM

2014 FIFA World Cup Ratings Wrap-Up

Here are the numbers for the 2014 FIFA World Cup in English and Spanish as far as I can determine given the severe constraints I had to work with. I complained last year about SportsBusiness Daily mysteriously completely dropping Univision’s numbers for the FIFA Confederations Cup, but this year the problem was much worse, because it’s the World Cup it dropped, including many of the most popular matches in the history of American Spanish-language television. Here’s hoping this madness ends with Telemundo taking over the World Cup. At least I managed to get enough numbers for the knockout stages that I’m fairly confident I have data for every knockout stage match over 3 million on Univision, but the group stage, especially the later part of the group stage, is more problematic; I have to assume I have every match with an audience over 5 million, but that might be a dicey proposition. Even the matches I do have I don’t have anything beyond the ten-thousands place, and I only have that much because of Sports Media Watch’s year-end ratings wrapup and doing the math based on the ESPN match-portion numbers.

Oh yes, that. ESPN wanted any mention of records or the actual ratings each match received to refer to the “match portion” of each window starting at the top of the hour, excluding the 30-minute pregame show, which SportsBusiness Daily and Sports Media Watch obliged them, but the official time slots according to Nielsen, which are thus more widely available from sites like Awful Announcing or TVbytheNumbers, include the pregame show, which could be as long as an hour if the United States was playing. To make matters worse, ESPN’s press releases tended to put out those match-portion numbers based on the fast nationals I don’t trust, which SMW ended up going with. So I had to hope each match finished in the top ten sports events on cable for the week to show up on SBD, and if it didn’t, hope ESPN reported numbers in its press releases or SMW found them out in other ways, or be stuck with the full-window numbers. And because the World Cup coincided with Douglas “Son of the Bronx” Pucci’s early days at Awful Announcing, when he was just posting top tens for each network with anything else being by request only, if a match was particularly lightly viewed I couldn’t even count on that.

Numbers for matches on ABC, as well as most ESPN match portions not marked as being fast nationals, from SportsBusiness Daily or Sports Media Watch. Other ESPN match portions from ESPN press releases. Numbers for ESPN full windows from Awful Announcing (household ratings) and TVbytheNumbers (18-49 ratings). Numbers in Spanish from Univision press releases and Sports Media Watch. Read More »

SlingTV Isn’t Breaking Up the Cable Bundle. It’s Preserving It.

Dish took the wraps off its long-in-the-works Internet-delivered TV service today, long known as “NuTV” but now officially known as SlingTV. (Dish has a working relationship with the Slingbox company but there is no other relationship between SlingTV and Slingbox.) For $20 a month you can sign up for a dozen channels from Disney, Turner, and Scripps, including the A&E networks partly owned by Disney and – crucially – ESPN, all delivered over the Internet, plus additional genre-based add-on packages for kids’ channels, news and info channels, and eventually, sports channels. The techie blogosphere, long friendly to “cord-cutting”, is over the moon at the possibility of being able to watch ESPN “without a cable subscription”, “liberated from the cable bundle” in GigaOm’s phrasing. GigaOm calls it “a cord-cutter’s best friend”; “a cord-cutter’s dream”, agrees Deadline; an “over-the-top alternative to the cable bundle”, writes TechCrunch.

None of these are in any way true. Sling TV may not be a cable company in the sense that they string a bunch of wires to your house (or in Dish’s case, put a satellite dish on your roof) and deliver hundreds of channels through it, but it is very much a cable bundle, even if a smaller one. You can’t pick and choose which channels of the base package of twelve you want and discard the rest, and you certainly can’t forego any of those base channels if you want any of the genre packages – especially important when Dish’s existing DishWorld service will be folded into SlingTV. Dish seems to be indicating it intends to keep the SlingTV suite lighter than a typical cable subscription, but make no mistake: the only reason this service doesn’t have more channels is because Dish hasn’t been able to get any other companies on board. If they could get AMC (and the other networks owned by AMC Networks), FX (and the other Fox-owned networks, including Fox Sports 1), or most other big companies’ packages of networks (especially Comcast for USA and NBCSN), they would.

Although Comcast and Time Warner Cable are the two most hated companies in America for a variety of reasons, the desire to be free of “the cable bundle” has never been about anything specific to them or their infrastructure. The channels have always been what’s mattered; how they’re delivered is immaterial. In that sense, what SlingTV is offering isn’t much different from what any other traditional cable provider is offering – something that should be especially apparent when the FCC is considering new rules that would treat Internet-delivered TV providers the same as any other cable or satellite company. TechCrunch paints Dish Network’s original launch as a challenge to the existing hegemony of the cable companies; Dish is now part of that hegemony. What makes them think SlingTV will be any different? Sure, it is cheaper than a traditional cable subscription for now, although given that cable companies often charge as much or even more than Internet alone than they do for Internet and TV, don’t expect to save all that much.

SlingTV believes access to ESPN is its killer app, but I won’t buy that any service like SlingTV is really going to break up the cable bundle unless and until it makes it easier for people to be able to not get ESPN. Anyone who signs up for SlingTV because of the programming on Food Network, Disney Channel, or A&E is supporting ESPN’s hegemony over the sports landscape every bit as much as they would be if they kept their existing cable subscription – and people who are interested in sports won’t get access to the regional sports networks that may be the real reason they aren’t cutting the cord. ESPN is the big winner here: it gets to appeal to “cord-cutters” without losing its hold on its lucrative business model that collects millions of dollars from people with zero interest in sports and funnels that into programming like the NFL playoffs and the College Football Playoff that make it a peer of the broadcast networks. SlingTV does nothing to break up that hegemony; it preserves it.

So to me, the real interesting part of this announcement (besides the ability to sign up and cancel the service any time with no long-term commitment) is that Dish is not including the broadcast networks, not even ABC, in SlingTV, even though a big reason it was able to get Disney on board was to settle ABC’s suit against the company for the AutoHop feature to skip commercials on broadcast networks. When Dish eventually does offer them, it’ll be as a separate add-on. The implicit message: We shouldn’t have to pay retransmission consent fees and jack up the price of our slimmed-down, low-cost service when our customers tend to be urban and capable of picking up broadcast signals with an antenna (not to mention, can watch a lot of broadcast shows on Hulu). I’m not sure they’ll be able to do that if the FCC makes them play by cable’s rules, since cable companies are required to carry any station that doesn’t ask for retrans on their most basic package and do the same for any station they agree to pay retrans for, and I’ve come out against “a la carte” proposals that make it easier to go without broadcast stations without making it easier to pick and choose cable networks like the “local choice” scheme that was floating around Congress a while back. But considering Dish has made clear it doesn’t see Sling TV as a full-fledged replacement for cable or satellite, if they can in fact make broadcast stations optional, perhaps it will serve as an impetus for broadcasters to invest in their signals instead of disdaining their own nominal medium in favor of being just another kind of cable channel.

2014 Stanley Cup Playoffs Ratings Roundup

Here are US ratings for all but two games of the 2014 Stanley Cup Playoffs. NHL Network is not rated by Nielsen, so numbers are not available for Avalanche-Wild Game 3 or Lightning-Canadiens Game 4.

There are a number of oddities on this list. At 4.1 million viewers, the finish of the Western Conference Final between the Kings and Blackhawks, airing on NBCSN on a Sunday night, beat both of NBCSN’s Stanley Cup Final games, and wasn’t beaten by Game 1 of the Final by very much (with Game 2’s ratings inflated by having the Belmont Stakes as a lead-in). That was the only non-Final game with more than 2.8 million viewers, broadcast or cable, and only two non-Final games on NBC beat NBCSN’s next-best non-Final game. NBCSN also had the most-watched non-Final game, broadcast or cable, not to involve the Blackhawks: Canadiens-Bruins Game 7. Is this a good sign for NBCSN, or a bad sign for the NHL?

CNBC had the nine least-watched games not on NHL Network, but thanks to inheriting the Blackhawks-Wild second-round series had three games with over a million viewers. Other than those three games, no other CNBC game had over half a million viewers.

Household ratings for games on NBCSN and CNBC through May 11 from Son of the Bronx, from May 12 and later and all NBC numbers from SportsBusiness Daily and Sports Media Watch. 18-49 numbers, when available, from TVbytheNumbers and The Futon Critic. Read More »