Thursday, October 30, 2008

If Only We Could Apply This To That Vegetable Jerky Machine

The Politics-Is-Good-For-Television meme I brought up a couple of weeks ago takes it to the extreme:

On average, Obama's 30-minute primetime infomercial managed to outperform usual broadcast network programming in the time period.

The Obama special was seen by 26.3 million viewers across broadcasters CBS, NBC and Fox, according to preliminary Nielsen ratings.

I don't know what to make of that. As the article points out, it's such an extraordinarily weird half-hour of programming that there's little to compare it to. Ross Perot did a similar stunt in the nineties but I guess he just wasn't Change We Could Believe In then.

Can one realistically compare "Knight Rider" to a political ad? That would normally seem unfair -- to the politician. Obama improved NBC's rating by 43% and CBS by 10% compared with last week. And keep in mind Obama was competing against himself.

The lowest-rated of the three presidential debates received a 52.4 million viewers -- but that was carried by more networks and was, after all, a debate.

The Ross Perot specials in 1992 averaged 11.6 million viewers, but those were 15 separate specials that ran on different nights.

NBC was the most-viewed and highest-rated network for its presentation of Obama's ad, pulling 9.8 million viewers and a 3.0 rating. CBS had 8.6 million (2.3) and Fox had 7.9 million (2.8).

As for ABC's underdog "Pushing Daisies," airing on the only major broadcaster not to carry the ad, the counterprogramming still came in fourth place in the adults 18-49 demo. "Daisies" (6.8 million, 2.2) was up by 16% from last week, which isn't as big of a boost as the network had likely hoped for.

I might as well admit it here - I'm an Obama supporter. But a half-hour infomercial getting big ratings - it's probably a sign of the Apocalypse. I'm busting out the Nostradamus on this one. I'll get back to you.

(h/t to myself: Cross posted from Box Office Weekly)

4 comments:

wamk said...

You are missing the other part of the equation-

NBC has to fork out the cost of Knight Rider, while they were actually PAID to show the Obama-mercial.

Now, if they could just find a way to sell advertising within the info-mercial, they'd be set.

Maybe get Obama to drink a Pepsi, and eat a Snickers, while arriving in his Prius. Of course, Michelle would be wearing Old Navy, and the kids in The Gap.

Ratings and a money maker.

wamk said...

The 26.3 million the total number of viewers?

Big deal.

Hillary! got 18 million votes in the primaries. Obama got a few more than she did.

18 + 18 = 36 million primary votes to Democrats. And that was before people really got amped up for the election.

So while 26 million viewers is impressive to watch an ad, still not a huge number in the big picture.

What is troubling is that more people will have watched Dancing with the Stars and American Idol that the Presidential Debates.

Danielk said...

Yeah, if only NBC didn't have to throw out a perfectly good episode of Knight Rider. A smarter network would have simply witheld the episode and shown it later. Say, if wonder if that's what they're actually doing? The networks would show informercials all the time if they could - it's like selling a huge block of ad time AND saving money on programming. It's a win/win if only people would watch. If they don't watch, you can't charge the infomercial people enough to make it worthwhile. Usually.

Of course, I mean this seriously, it's obvious that viewership numbers in no way equate to votes. It's just as likely that half the people tuned in to see if Obama would be wearing a turban.

Publius said...

A smarter network would have taken the money then aired the stupid thing at 2AM.