Uncle Eric's Guide to Understanding TV Ratings
For a long time, the bane of my existence as a TV critic was the "sweeps" periods in November, May and February.
They always produced loads of statistics that each local station would manipulate to their own benefit, and woe be to any TV writer who didn't at least acknowledge their spin. The first numbers we always got were the easiest to understand and the most worthless: household ratings.
These numbers estimate what each household in the Tampa Bay area watched during February. they are useless, because advertisers don't use household numbers to gauge what they will pay for advertising. They want to know viewing numbers of specific types of people -- say, viewers age 18 to 34. Those numbers come later this month.
Still, household numbers can show trends. February's sweep ended Wednesday, for example, and we see WFLA-Ch. 8 and WTVT-Ch. 13 fighting for supremacy in most major news time periods. We see that Dr. Phil's monster numbers at 5 p.m. are still helping Tampa Bay's 10 (Channel 10) rise to Number 2 at 6 p.m.
Ellen DeGeneres may be popular elsewhere in the country, but WFTS-Ch. 28's telecast of Ellen at 4 p.m. gets lower numbers than the shows on any other major TV station -- even behind reruns of Reba on WTOG-Ch. 44.
And the Tampa Bay area loves American Idol like everywhere else, making the show's Tuesday and Wednesday episodes the most-watched shows in prime time for the month.
Here's the raw numbers -- provided by WTSP-Ch. 10 -- and the first number is the rating (percentage of all TV households in the market), second number is the share (percentage of all households with TVs turned on at the time).
Mon to Fri., 5 a.m. to 6 a.m.:
WTVT 3.1/15; WFLA 2.7/13; BN9 (Bay News 9) 1.1/6; TB10 News (WTSP-Ch. 10) 1.1/5; WFTS 0.9/5
Mon to Fri., 6 a.m. to 7 a.m.:
WFLA 5.1/19; WTVT 4.5/17; BN9 1.6/6; WFTS 1.6/6; TB10 News 1.4/5.
Mon. to Fri., 4 p.m. to 5 p.m.:
WTVT-Judge Judy 7.1/16; WFLA – Oprah 6.3/14; TB10 – Life Around the Bay 2.3/5; WTOG – Reba 1.7/4; WTTA – Maury 1.5/4; WFTS – Ellen 1.5/3.
Mon to Fri., 5 p.m. to 6 p.m.:
TB10 - Dr. Phil 6.7/13; WTVT 6.4/13; WFLA 6.4/13; WFTS 1.8/4.
Mon. to Fri., 6 p.m. to 6:30 p.m.:
WFLA 7.9/14; TB10 7.3/14; WTVT 5.7/10; WFTS 2.6/5.
Mon. to Fri., Late News:
WFLA 7.9/15; TB10 7.2/14; WFTS 4.2/8; WTVT 11p 4.1/8; WTVT (10p-11p) 7.3/11.
Top Prime Time Network Shows in the Tampa Bay market:
5) TB10/CBS CSI: Miami 14.7/23
6) TB10/CBS NCIS 13.5/19
7) TB10/CBS 2 Half Men 12.6/17 #1 comedy
8) WFLA/NBC Law & Order 12.4/20
9) TB10/CBS 60 Minutes 12.2/17 #1 news magazine
TB10/CBS Criminal Minds 12.0/17