This week we continue our conversation on television audience measurement. Last column, I shared the Nielsen numbers and how Southwest Florida's television stations did during November sweeps.
This week, we'll take a look at the Rentrak numbers. But first, a little background on this emerging company.
Nielsen gets its numbers two different ways: Diaries, which are sent to homes and filled out by folks just like you and me, and metered homes.
Before I started writing about TV for the Daily News, I actually had the opportunity to fill out a diary. It came to my mailbox, with some cash (yes, cash!) inside an envelope. I had to log all my viewing, and write down who was in the room with me.
Metered homes are just what they sound like. A Nielsen representative comes to your home, attaches a bunch of do-hickeys to your set and voila! Big Brother is watching you watch TV.
Rentrak utilizes existing set top boxes from your friendly neighborhood satellite/cable provider.
By the numbers
This is where Rentrak has the upper hand. This passive approach to gathering data allows them to collect from far more homes.
Why is that important? According to Nielsen estimates, we have 504,240 TV homes in Southwest Florida. By all accounts, Nielsen has people meters in fewer than 500 homes, while Rentrak collects data from about 15,000 homes.
That means each home with a Nielsen meter in Southwest Florida represents more than 1,000 homes.
Here's an example of why this is important. Let's say you like NBC 2 News at 6 p.m., and you live in one of these metered homes. But during the two weeks of sweeps in November your family is late coming home due to road construction.
Guess what? NBC 2 just lost 1,000 homes a night during the all important sweeps period which, in part, helps determine what a station can charge for advertising.
In other words, the fewer homes in the sample, the greater the impact on the overall numbers.
A changing landscape
In 2009, WSVN, the Miami Fox affiliate, sued Nielsen after the company changed the way it collected data and the station lost 50 percent of its viewers in a single day.
To be fair, Nielsen is said to be considering changes to hold its position as the dominant source for TV ratings.
While Rentrak may not be the household name for TV data yet, the company has been around for three decades, making a name for itself tracking box office and DVD numbers.
Making a push into the TV market in the past 24 months, Rentrak has added more than 100 stations that subscribe to its service.
Rentrak's SWFL numbers
According to Rentrak's numbers, WINK News (3.36 rating/16.57 share) takes the crown in the 5 a.m. hour against closest competitor NBC 2 (3.12/15.41). (Editor's note: For an explanation of ratings/share and the Nielsen numbers, see last week's column at naplesnews.com).
NBC 2 pulls ahead at 6 a.m. (5.78/19.25) with WINK moving to second place (4.91/17.79).
Folks in Southwest Florida love their game shows. At 11 a.m., "The Price Is Right" on WINK wins the hour (4.74/14.11). NBC 2 News is second (3.99/11.88). "Wheel of Fortune" on NBC-2 garners a 9.54/15.96 share at 7 p.m. to take the time slot. Closest competitor WINK is second with news at that time (5.97/9.99). ABC 7's 7 O'clock news receives a 3.47/5.80, which puts it ahead of TV 6's "The Big Bang Theory" and Fox 4's "Judge Judy."
At noon, when the stations are head to head, WINK takes the crown (5.06/14.93). NBC 2 is in second place (4.34/12.80).
At 4 p.m. WINK wins with a 4.10/9.76. NBC 2 is second with a 4.27/10.16.
At 5, WINK (5.86/12.27) and NBC 2 (5.72/11.97) are neck and neck, with WINK having a slight advantage.
That continues at 5:30 p.m.: WINK (6.51/12.02); NBC 2 (6.42/12.82).
At 6 p.m., NBC 2 (8.49/15.55) takes the crown. WINK (8.01/12.02) is second.
At 11 p.m., WINK (6.98/13.53) claims victory by a wide margin over NBC 2 (4.3 .58).
Last week I gave a shout-out to TV 6 for its competitive numbers. The station is doing far better against competitors in Southwest Florida than the average for a CW affiliate against the "big four."
"WINK News at 10 on TV 6 has a weak lead-in yet doubles if not triples the lead-in number," says Mark Gilson of Sun Broadcasting.
That's true, depending on what's on, as the prime time ratings fluctuate more on a given night. And it is something to be proud of.
For sure, NBC 2's healthy numbers in the 6 a.m. hour can be partly attributed to the popularity of "Today" on NBC. The same argument can be made for WINK's noon broadcast, which is sandwiched between the popular "The Price Is Right" and "The Young and the Restless." Fox 4's 10 p.m. news benefits greatly from the network lead-in.
Lead in/out can also hurt you. Just look at NBC's 11 p.m. newscast. Who knows what the numbers would be if NBC's prime time schedule was more popular.
That's all for now. Until next time, stay tuned.
Bill Green is a Naples Daily News/naplesnews.com journalist and a professional couch potato. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Connect with him at facebook.com/billdgreen.