Changing consumer habits means more viewers for ‘Scandal’

ABC doesn’t need to spin the ratings results for “Scandal.”

The third season premiere for the show about hotshot D.C. public relations guru Olivia Pope, starring Kerry Washington, last week opened to 10.5 million viewers, its biggest audience ever. But, like other networks, ABC is trotting out numbers that account for the multiple ways people now watch their shows after they’ve originally aired -- and it makes the Nielsen numbers look a lot better.

When the network counts people watching through other means, such as digital video recorders, video on demand and Web streaming, a total of 17.8 million people have watched the first episode of “Scandal.”

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That’s 91% more than the number of people who watched last year’s premiere through all platforms.

With viewing habits adapting to new technology, the major broadcast networks are trying to change how observers think about ratings and what they mean. With the growing popularity of delayed viewing, people are often as likely if not more to watch shows after they air rather than live.

With a show like “Scandal,” that trend can help increase a program’s overall audience.

About 2.8 million people watched the “Scandal” premiere via DVR or VOD in the three days after the original air date and an additional 1.4 million saw it online. A rerun on Tuesday drew an additional 3 million people, bringing the total viewership to 17.8 million.

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“Scandal” isn’t the only show to benefit from the multiplatform lift.

NBC’s “Blacklist,” the new FBI drama starring James Spader, added 5 million viewers to its Sept. 30 episode in the three days after it first ran. Perhaps more impressive, the show retained some 97% of the total audience for its premiere. Those “Blacklist” numbers don’t count streaming.

Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.,” another ABC show, grew the audience for its big premiere to 22 million, an increase of 83% from its same-day number.


So if you’re still catching up on “Scandal,” “Blacklist,” “S.H.I.E.L.D.” or any of the other fall hits, join the club.


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