Packers ratings tell story in WTMJ and Time Warner blackout
At least once a day, and even more in sweeps periods, station managers look at the overnight ratings.
They also look at the adjusted numbers in what's called the +3 and +7 reports. There is strategy involved into what enterprise work – which could be a special news story or a weather or sports special – that would run on what day. Managers look at what the network offerings are in primetime, or what the subject matter may be for syndicated shows.
Through it all, station managers know the value of broadcasting an NFL game, and the viewers it can bring.
On Friday night, the Green Bay Packers preseason football game against the Arizona Cardinals was broadcast on two stations over-the-air. Journal Communications runs the Packers Broadcast Network, which bid and won the right to air a number of games and coordinates the broadcast to stations throughout the state and elsewhere.
In our market, the Journal-owned WTMJ-TV Ch. 4 ran the game, and in a deal with Weigel, the footage was delivered to WYTU-TV Ch. 63 Telemundo Wisconsin for a Spanish-language presentation. Besides the free over-the-air broadcast, other services could deliver the game through retransmission deals. DISH network, DirecTV and AT&T U-verse has an active deal in place with Journal Communications.
But for more than two weeks, the WTMJ signal has been blocked for Time Warner Cable customers as the two sides negotiate a deal. Up until recently, most of these talks happened without the public paying close attention, and cable and satellite companies would pay local broadcasters for the ability to deliver and charge subscribers for the local station to be a part of its service.
Time Warner Cable does have a working agreement with Weigel Broadcasting, to deliver WYTU Telemundo, along with WDJT-TV CBS 58 and independent WMLW-TV Ch. 41. That meant Time Warner Cable subscribers could watch the Packers game, but with the Spanish play-by-play with Andy Olivares and Kevin Holden.
You can see more here.
This weekend, I heard back from many who watched the game on mute, and then tuned into 620 WTMJ-AM on the radio for the audio. Sure, there was a delay between the two, but many people I know do this a lot when they don't like the personalities the TV networks get to cover the game. Yep, Troy Aikman is near the top of that list.
On Friday night, most people in our area watched the Packers game on WTMJ. The viewing audience peaked at just over a 19 rating (you can round that up to a 20 if you are a cup-is-over-half-full kind of person) in the first half of the game. If you do the math, in our market the equation is about 9,100 viewers per rating point.
So, for Friday, around 182,000 people at the most turned to WTMJ-TV for the game.
A little about ratings, Nielsen has a statistical breakdown on how it achieves what it would consider a worth-while sample in a market to be representative of the viewing habits of thousands of people. I personally don't buy into the math they are selling. But, for the lack of a better system, like the tracking of online metrics, the stations and advertisers stick with this system of measurement.
In the 13 counties of the Milwaukee DMA (designated marketing area), there are around 350 to 400 households that make up the sample. So these select few determine the success or failure of the TV we consume.
Telemundo Wisconsin, in a total viewership among all metered sources, had better than a 3.5 rating in the peak of the preliminary numbers. So, rounded up to the 4, brings about 36,400.
We do know that WTMJ, in broadcast of preseason games in years past, had higher ratings. They peaked with a 30 in the second preseason game against the Cleveland Browns in 2012, and had a peak rating of a 25 with another preseason game against the Browns in 2011.
Telemundo did broadcast games in 2012, but ratings are unavailable at the time of publishing this report.
We do know that Time Warner Cable is the most-used service in the market, but Time Warner will not report a number of subscribers in any market it covers. So, I guess I'm saying the math here is going to be fuzzy at best.
But if we look at the viewer numbers and the conversion from ratings, WTMJ is down this year compared to 2012 by 91,000. They are down by 45,500 viewers compared to 2011. Now, I do realize that there's more than just this dispute at play for Packers ratings. In 2011, the team was coming off a Super Bowl championship. The expectations were high, and the team did well that season until the first playoff game loss. Last year, expectations were high as well.
So, if you are frustrated with the black out and the coverage of it, you are not alone. You have options and can find out more here.
For those of us taking a look at this from a viewers' perspective, there really isn't a good story update to share at this point.
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