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09 May 2013 @ 11:18 pm
Warning: maaaaaaajor geekery ahead! A closer look at Doctor Who ratings  

OK so I like math. Although I'm not a statistician, I am pretty good with math (which is lucky for anyone in the USA haha bc in a few short months I will be using said math to prepare intravenous drug compounds for hospitalized patients... tl;dr if I sucked at this, it would suck WAAAY worse to be you bwahahah XD)

ANYWAY! It should not have escaped anyone's attention that Doctor Who ratings appear to be teetering a bit. Some people think "eh, it's not a big deal" while some think that this is dangerous. I'm one of the latter group. And because I have a huge-ass assignment due tomorrow that I don't feel like doing right now, I thought I'd explain why. (For simplicity's sake, there are no Xmas specials or 2009 specials included in this data - just final BARB ratings from 2005-present).

OK first off, if you compare the OVERALL numbers from s1-s7, although s7 (in red) looks like it's a bit low, there doesn't seem to be much difference ... right? Right???? And, truth be told, the only ~statistically significant~ differences (eg, where s7 really comparatively sucks balls) are when it's directly compared to s1. But ... this chart is a colorful mess. A colorful MEANINGLESS mess, because all I'm showing you is a bunch of lines without analysis. Six would probably proudly wear this chart as a coat it's so fugly. Anyway, this is usually the data people are looking at when they glance at the ratings and shrug it off as being "not all that different." This is not accurate.


image


So let's clean it up a bit!!! To simplify things, I'm gonna compare apples to apples. All RTD-era episodes are accounted for by the blue line ("You said BLUE!!" ... "I said NOT blue!!!"), the beginning of the Moffat era (s5-6) is the green line, and s7 is the red line. NOW things start to look interesting!!

OK this is not a calculus class but I hope this shows why math is kind of cool if you're a total fandom nerd and you want to prove other fandom nerds wrong XD. Look at the pretty lines and numbers!!! Here's what they mean: see the dotted lines with the equations? Those are ~trendlines~ for the graph. Basically what that means is it tells you, on average, where the hell your data is going. See the equations? Those tell you how fast viewers are flocking to your show (or, alternatively, turning it off bc it sucks and going to read fanfic or something lol idk). And see the (sorrysorry tiny font I knowww) "R^2" value? That tells you if you can trust your trends or not (lol @ those evil, untrustworthy trend bitches). The closer to "1" the better, and these are all pretty freaking close to one which means the trends are pretty strong. (So anyone who tries to respond and say it's meaningless - look at the R^2 value and hush lol).

So what does this mean? Again this isn't a calculus class so I'll skip the lecture on how to calculate derivatives and try not to make this too boring (BUT CALCULUS IS SUPER COOL AND YOU SHOULD LOVE IT GUYZ), but essentially the first number (x^2) is saying "this is how fast viewers are coming/going".

And this is where the RTD era is strong, s5-6 are a bit weaker, and s7 is in trouble. For the RTD era, the first number shows that yeah viewers were coming and going - but that there was a general trend back up. For s5-6, there are fewer people coming and going. And for s7, the number is negative --- that means there is a trend of people leaving. How reliable is this? Well back to the R-squared thingy I was telling you about - it's pretty freaking close to 1, so the trend is pretty tight.

image


One of the big weaknesses here is that premieres and season finales tend to have more viewers, so in this next graph, I simply removed the premieres and finales (which meant I had to remove mainly s6-7 episodes from the data pool bc of the split season). Taking away those premiere/finale bumps in viewership looks even worse for s7 - the number of viewers leaving is even MORE negative now!!!! And s5-6 has a much flatter line too ... viewers were pretty stagnant. Again, the RTD era had some swings, but at the end of the day, viewers were coming home. That's not happening for the past few years, especially this year.


image


So what can we make out of all of this? Tl;dr, the numbers aren't good. And they're getting not-gooder by the season.

(AND CALCULUS ROCKS AND YOU SHOULD TOTALLY LOVE IT!!)


 
 
 
giallarhorn: Olivia Specs!giallarhorn on May 10th, 2013 08:39 pm (UTC)
I think it's hard to see if the decrease means anything, since I think that there tends to be a decrease in viewers toward the end which S7 seems to be following, but I concur that the numbers as of now are dipping lower compared to previous ones.

I think that it's more particularly worrying since we're supposed to be heading into the 50th, and while it does follow a general trend, it's definitely not a trend you want to see leading towards it. I suppose if Gaiman's ep manages to draw more viewers, it might just be indicative of just following trends, but if not, well.
kilodaltonkilodalton on May 10th, 2013 09:35 pm (UTC)
Yeah ... more than comparing s7 to the RTD era honestly, what concerns me a bit is comparing it to the rest of the *Moffat* era =X

Time will tell!! =D
(Deleted comment)
kilodaltonkilodalton on May 10th, 2013 10:30 pm (UTC)
Heya! Nope I didn't include the 2009 specials or any of the Christmas specials - all you see are the plain normal episodes (but yeah - Turn Left, The Stolen Earth and Journey's End were rockstars!!)

Re average viewership - that's a little misleading in the Moffat era because you have the split seasons - premieres and finales tend to give bumps, so Moffat has a double bonus over RTD there since he's splitting the seasons. That said, RTD still comes out on top.

s1 7,947,692
s2 7,714,615
s3 7,549,231
s4 8,046,615
(Specials - I don't know lol I didn't look that up)
RTD average (without specials or Xmas specials!!!): 7,814,538

s5 7,729,000
s6 7,515,538
s7 7,618,500
Moffat average (without Xmas specials!!!): 7,621,013


Edited at 2013-05-10 10:33 pm (UTC)
(Deleted comment)
(no subject) - kilodalton on May 11th, 2013 01:50 pm (UTC) (Expand)
develish1develish1 on May 11th, 2013 04:33 am (UTC)
do I even need to comment here? I think you must be well aware of my thoughts on the more recent seasons and how utterly unimpressed I am, right?
kilodaltonkilodalton on May 11th, 2013 01:52 pm (UTC)
Whaattt???? I thought you were a Moffat superfan!!!! (>.^)

develish1: ha ha ha - Tendevelish1 on May 11th, 2013 03:51 pm (UTC)

*points at icon and wanders of choking with laughter*

(no subject) - kilodalton on May 11th, 2013 07:05 pm (UTC) (Expand)
Young Geoffreyed_rex on May 11th, 2013 06:33 am (UTC)
Not a mathematician
I can't vouch for either your data or your methodology, but your conclusions sure as hell reinforce my critical analysis of the Moffat era programs, so I also approve this post!

If you're right (and I almost hope you are), I hope the BBC powers-that-be are paying attention and maybe thinking already about who they would like to take over a show I still hope I will be able to love again some day.
kilodaltonkilodalton on May 11th, 2013 01:56 pm (UTC)
Re: Not a mathematician
I really have no doubt they're paying attention - they're defensive as hell about this, and you know what they say about doth-protesting-too-much XD I suspect their biggest problem right now is trying to figure out what to do about it, and in a way that spins it as positive. I have a gut feeling that Moffat will be gone not long after the Christmas Special and wouldn't be surprised to see a Christmas regeneration in more ways that one.

I love your reviews btw, they crack me up!! XD
Young Geoffreyed_rex on May 17th, 2013 06:50 am (UTC)
Re: Not a mathematician
I guess it comes as no surprise that I hope you're right about Moffat going away. I wouldn't mind if Smith stays; might even make sense if he spent a few episodes or even a series making the transition less of a shock. But I wouldn't shed a tear if he went sooner than that either.

Also, belated thanks for your kind words; also no secret that everyone feels the way you do about my reviews!
laura_luvagelaura_luvage on May 12th, 2013 11:53 pm (UTC)
To me there's three things that are probably the three main reasons why the show's ratings have gone down:

1) Overall ratings for TV has gone down. If only Doctor's Who's ratings had gone down it wouldn't be winning its time slot nor would it still be one of the BBC's top performing shows.

2)The rise of Iplayer and downloading. People are watching less and less live TV. I know from personal experience that more and more people are missing the show live, especially with the earlier time slot. For instance my dad goes to football almost every Saturday, sometimes he gets back in time, other weeks I have to download it for him because he misses it. It's harder to add his view to the figures because he doesn't watch live. I also wouldn't be surprised with the way British summers have been the last couple of years (basically they happen in May), people are taking every chance they get to do summery things meaning they aren't in when the show is on.

3) The generation of kids that got into show back in 2005 are now older teens or adults. Meaning if their friends want to go out, they'll catch up with the show later. This started to happen at the end of RTD's run, I used to have to delay going out (because I was dedicated, others who watched the show, not so much), so I could see the show. Those who have the biggest problem are uni students. Most of whom don't have television licenses and have to catch up online. My sister's been at uni the last 3 years and has to catch up online. When she's at home she'll watch it live but most of the time it's on Iplayer or streaming elsewhere.

I'm not denying people have stopped watching the show, I know people that have. I'm not delusional, figures have gone down not just because of the reasons above but because some people aren't into the show anymore.
However the show is still bringing in more viewers than most drama shows on TV, and more importantly it's still bringing in enough money. Tickets for the Doctor Who BBC Proms went on sale on Saturday morning, for 3 performances at the Royal Albert Hall which according to Wikipedia has space for 5000 people and a lot of people were left disappointed as they couldn't get seats (just have a look at the BBC Proms facebook page) and the tickets weren't that cheap either!

With the BBC's problems at the moment, Doctor Who is in one of the best positions. It's sales abroad and merchandise is bringing in more money than probably any other program, which right now is what the BBC is more focused on with the cuts to their budget.

I feel sorry for people who don't enjoy the show as much with Moffat in charge and therefore don't watch the show(I have issues with some of his writing, although I had equally problems with RTD but I can still enjoy the show luckily). I would be incredibly surprised if Moffat doesn't move on soon, I wouldn't be surprised if his next season is his last. Which hopefully will mean those who haven't watched while he's been on it will start enjoying it again. I doubt there will be much of a jump in figures though.
eve11eve11 on May 14th, 2013 10:00 pm (UTC)
These are some good hypotheses. I've done some poking around of ratings data over at my journal if you're interested, but it does seem like we need more than just the ratings numbers to really answer the "why" questions.

Interesting point about those who age with the show and then end up doing more on Saturdays.
kilodaltonkilodalton on May 14th, 2013 10:08 pm (UTC)
Ehhh I'm not convinced.

1) Overall ratings for SOME things have gone down. Other shows (Broadchurch, Downton) are still very hot and pulling in nearly twice what Doctor Who is.

2) The fatal flaw with iPlayer is that it doesn't measure unique viewers. It measures TOTAL views. It's no better than YouTube. Have a connection problem and reload the video ten times? Congratulations, you are "ten viewers!" Watch most of the show on TV, but the phone rings so you miss a scene, and you go back to watch 30 seconds of the episode on iPlayer? Congratulations, you are now TWO viewers - and your 30 seconds of view time isn't differentiated from someone who watched the whole show. iPlayer stats are crap and I wish people would stop talking about them because they measure N O T H I N G >.<

Good point about people aging out of the show though ...

I wouldn't be surprised if his next season is his last. Which hopefully will mean those who haven't watched while he's been on it will start enjoying it again. I doubt there will be much of a jump in figures though.

I would be amazed if he's still around at the end of 2014. In fact, I'd be moderately surprised if he's around at the beginning of it. Agreed that figures won't jump - the show has hit critical mass imo.


Edited at 2013-05-14 10:10 pm (UTC)
laura_luvagelaura_luvage on May 14th, 2013 11:27 pm (UTC)
1) Overall ratings for SOME things have gone down. Other shows (Broadchurch, Downton) are still very hot and pulling in nearly twice what Doctor Who is.

Both Broadchurch and Downton are rare examples new must watch shows due to heightened media attention, Sherlock is another example. I would not be surprised if they go on much longer their figures will drop as well. Also not really shows that whole families will watch. A lot of other shows, including the likes of Eastenders figures have dropped. I'm pretty sure even the likes of X Factor and BGT have dropped as well. Which maybe hints that families are watching tv together less?

2) The fatal flaw with iPlayer is that it doesn't measure unique viewers. It measures TOTAL views. It's no better than YouTube. Have a connection problem and reload the video ten times? Congratulations, you are "ten viewers!" Watch most of the show on TV, but the phone rings so you miss a scene, and you go back to watch 30 seconds of the episode on iPlayer? Congratulations, you are now TWO viewers - and your 30 seconds of view time isn't differentiated from someone who watched the whole show. iPlayer stats are crap and I wish people would stop talking about them because they measure N O T H I N G >.<

I'm not denying it's hard to get exact figures but to completely discount them is completely stupid. Iplayer and the like is an extremely popular way of watching TV in the UK now. Getting exact figures is impossible but it does count for a fair proportion, especially now as the show is barely repeated on tv. There's also people who will download the episode illegally, again they cannot be counted properly but to say that they don't matter is stupid. Just because you can't get an exact figure doesn't mean those viewers don't count.
(no subject) - kilodalton on May 15th, 2013 04:51 pm (UTC) (Expand)