/// C7 Ratings to Free Up Hundreds of Millions in Hidden Revenue
While the broadcast networks are pressuring agencies and clients to start writing more deals against a C7 ratings currency, at first blush, it would appear that there’s little cause to rush into a paradigm shift. But nothing could be further from the truth. Based on a close examination of each broadcast series’ C3 and C7 deliveries, there would appear to be very little to gain from adding the extra four days of playback to the data stream. For the period spanning Sept. 23, 2012 through March 30, 2013, the vast majority of network shows have demonstrated no lift whatsoever upon conversion from the C3 currency to the more inclusive C7 metric. In the rare cases where the bonus playback numbers have helped goose the demo deliveries, the net gain is seemingly trivial. Of the dozen or so series that did see a boost upon conversion from C3 to C7, most inch up a mere one-tenth of a ratings point. A handful of shows gained two-tenths of a point, including ABC’s Modern Family (3.2 to 3.4) and Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. (2.2 to 2.4), CBS’ The Big Bang Theory (4.6 to 4.8), Fox’s The Following (2.2 to 2.4) and NBC’s The Blacklist (3.1 to 3.3). The single biggest gainer, Fox’s freshman series Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey , improved three-tenths of a point, from a 2.1 in C3 to a 2.4 C7 rating. All that having been said, on a percentile basis, these conversions represent a veritable mother lode of incremental revenue. Assuming your network books $3 billion in annual ad sales revenue, even as little as a 4 percent lift would translate into leaving $120 million on the table. “That’s real money,” said one ad sales boss. “In the greater scheme of things, 4 percent seems like a trifle. But say your C7 conversion gives you a lift of 4 percent across the board. That’s an awful lot of money to leave lying around just because you’re still working with a compromised metric .” As the networks press forward with an initiative designed to wean viewers off the commercial-zapping DVR in favor of VOD platforms that don’t allow for ad-avoidance, the prevailing notion is that the C7 numbers will rise accordingly. This in turn should lead to an increase in actionable demo deliveries. “If 4 percent becomes 10 percent in three years, now you’re looking at serious cash—enough to fund three pilot seasons ,” the ad sales executive said. Interestingly enough, not a single show declined upon addition of the four bonus playback days. That is not at all the case upon converting live-plus-same-day data to C3.