Recently, I obtained some Nielsen data regarding the 2010 NCAA Women's Basketball Championship. I thought the championship rematch between Connecticut and Stanford was a disappointing game, and my conclusion was this would be reflected in the Nielsen ratings for the game. I knew that hour-per-hour Nielsens were available, and that those ratings or shares would reflect those of a disappointing game - high numbers at first, and then falling thereafter.
What I forgot was that I had an insider who could look up television ratings. Unfortunately, the only ratings the insider could get me were from Dallas and Houston. I received a set of Houston ratings and hopefully, I'll get the ratings from Dallas soon.
The data I have is Live+SD, Live+3 and Live+7. All of these numbers represent a time range from the original air date of the program, since Nielsen understand that many people these days will record a program on their DVR and watch it later. "Live+SD" reflects televisions where either the game was watched as it aired, or was recorded plus watched on the same day. The +3 and +7 designations extend this viewing window up to +3/+7 days after the game was recorded. Since the numbers are roughly the same, I'll be using the Live+SD (seen live or on the same day) numbers.
Here is the quarter-hour data for Houston, Texas for the Connecticut-Stanford game. The game started at 7:30 pm central time, and 7 pm begins the lead-in to the show.
Two numbers follow, separated by slashes. The first number is the rating, which is the percentage of all televisions (in use or not) tuned to the game. The second number is the share, which is the percentage of all televisions in use tuned to the game.
All times are Central Time:
7:00 pm: 0.6/1.1
7:15 pm: 0.6/1.1
7:30 pm: 1.3/2.2
7.45 pm: 1.9/3.0
8:00 pm: 2.2/3.4
8:15 pm: 2.3/3.4
8:30 pm: 3.1/4.5
8:45 pm: 4.4/6.2
9:00 pm: 3.7/5.7
9:15 pm: 4.8/7.3
I was astonished to say the least. My expectations were reversed in the results. Viewership was low during the pre-game hoopla from 7 pm to 7:30 pm, and as the game progressed, the ratings slowly increased. By the end of the game, 7 percent of all active television sets in Houston were either watching the finale or taping it.
Of course, there are a lot of explanations for the data pattern. Maybe most viewers watched "American Idol" first before joining the game in progress. Maybe the numbers reflect Houston's traditional love of women's basketball. In any case, it looks like in Houston...they liked what they were seeing.