TV Ratings

There is some fairly strong buzz about tonight’s episode of LOST. According to one reviewer this latest installment “leads to one of the show's darkest and most morally complex outings yet, one few other shows would dare to attempt.” Hopefully it lives up to the buzz. Interestingly there’s been some worry about declining audience for LOST and other popular television shows. Television executives are scrambling to find ways to attract more viewers.  But when you count the people who record the show and watch it later, the ratings for most shows are much higher. The ratings for LOST, for example, are up 24 percent when you count the number of people who record the show and watch it within seven days.

The real issue is that TV has become much more on demand the last two years. You can buy episodes off the internet, watch them on the web, or record them and watch them at your convenience. Yet TV studios haven’t changed the way they count the number of views. If you don’t watch the show when it’s broadcast, you don’t count.

I don’t have a solution to the problem but TV execs better way to report how many people are actually watching the shows and television networks need to find more creative ways to address the concerns of advertisers. It’s another example of old media struggling to adjust to a changing environment. (The same problem is faced with newspapers that have declining print circulations but usually a booming number of online viewers.)

I wouldn’t be surprised if the networks come up with a new way to count viewers in the next year or two and find a way to make those who are digitally recording shows have to watch a 30 second commercial or something (kind of what they do when you watch a show online) before you can watch the show.

And for those who want a 90 second peak of tonight’s episode of LOST, you can watch a clip here.