It’s a long way to the top

Who would ever want to pay a dollar to read a CanWest paper fluffing itself? But I’ll look the other way as it’s not like we don’t do the same thing from time to time.

What the CBC takes issue with is their numbers, according to InsidetheCBC. Global news beat the National? It’s impossible! A letter to the editor has been written.

The CBC reminds us that we’re supposed to be adding cumulative ratings from multiple broadcasts, a method much-loved by executives of a Stursbergian persuasion, but pretty much pooh-poohed by everyone else as a tricky way to punch up your numbers. Preferably, closer to a million.

And do we know how many people watched it online? Let’s throw those freeloading nerds in there, too.

As statsman Barry Kiefl put it to me in an email:

It’s like Starbucks claiming they have more sales than Tim Horton’s but have 5 or 6 times as many stores to do so.

But as we all know, ratings are for pussies. What matters is quality. So who’s news the best?

According to Barry’s TVQ survey, most people think ours is.

Which begs the question. If our news is so much better, why does that crazy audience spend so much time watching what they know to be crappy pap?

13 comments:

  1. Anonymous
    Posted February 15, 2008 at 8:45 am | # | Reply to this masterpiece

    Will Inside the CBC post this comment questioning the CBC’s blog’s claim that 1.2 million watch The National every night?:

    Anon Says: Your comment is awaiting moderation.

    Tod, ask your news department how many people watch The National on the CBC main channel and Newsworld in a typical night’“they will tell you that this TV season on the 115 nights that The National has aired at its regular time, the combined average audience was 965,000 viewers, no different than Global’™s audience. No network spins the numbers better than CBC and failing that, just make them up’¦

  2. Anonymous
    Posted February 13, 2008 at 12:46 pm | # | Reply to this masterpiece

    dear anonymous number 3.
    this is nuts

    “can’t imagine that anyone would seriously argue that anything more than a tiny percentage of viewers (relatives of reporters??) would watch the same newscast twice. So a great percentage of all these cumulative numbers represents different viewers.”

    i know someone who seriously argued people would watch the national twice: The folks who decided to air, for years, a 30 minute version of the national immediately after the national ended.

  3. Enik
    Posted February 11, 2008 at 8:03 pm | # | Reply to this masterpiece

    Sorry joeclark, I wasn’t trying to be funny by posting “curb/kerb”, it was early and I had a bit of a brain fart about which spelling was right. I’ve seen it spelled both ways, but I’ve also read a few British novels in the last while.

  4. Turnip
    Posted February 11, 2008 at 12:47 pm | # | Reply to this masterpiece

    Best part about that Citizen item is that they liked the lead enough to print it twice!

  5. Anonymous
    Posted February 11, 2008 at 12:46 pm | # | Reply to this masterpiece

    “fluffing itself?”

    Isn’t that the whole purpose of “inside the CBC” blog?

  6. joeclark
    Posted February 11, 2008 at 11:36 am | # | Reply to this masterpiece

    Curb is not spelled kerb in Canada. At all. Hence ’śkicked to the curb/kerb’ť isn’™t as funny as you think it is.

    Yours in pedantry,

  7. Anonymous
    Posted February 11, 2008 at 10:15 am | # | Reply to this masterpiece

    “Who would ever want to pay a dollar to read a CanWest paper fluffing itself?”

    I wouldn’t, but only because I can read members of the corpse fluffing themselves here!

  8. Enik
    Posted February 11, 2008 at 6:29 am | # | Reply to this masterpiece

    Sorry, anon 11:37–the P in PARC has been kicked to the curb/kerb. It’s all about Audience, Revenue and Costs now. Advertisers could give a shit about Newsworld, unless they’re selling penis pumps and sit-down bathtubs and reclining mattresses.

    And major networks compete for ratings on the same tier as other major networks, regardless of the content of the program. It’s great that we’re providing people with multiple broadcasts of the same news program on different platforms–that’s terrific public value–but in the real world the only broadcast that matters is the one on the main channel.

    Stursberg may well not care if the National is winning the ratings game–he may be more interested in who makes up the audience who watches it–and if so, that’s great. But let’s not play this accumulated audience game, it’s a farce and an embarrassment.

  9. Anonymous
    Posted February 11, 2008 at 5:54 am | # | Reply to this masterpiece

    Iceberg right ahead sir!

    Full steam ahead!

    Richard will be first in the lifeboat and leave the rest of us go to down into the icy waters.

    Better jump ship soon before that happens.

  10. Anonymous
    Posted February 11, 2008 at 4:08 am | # | Reply to this masterpiece

    No the advertisers are not that stupid, they know the reality of the situation. The revenue story will be much worse in the future as the only ads on the service will be makegoods. They will float 3% roll backs now … wait until you see what comes down the pipe after they have fled.

  11. Anonymous
    Posted February 10, 2008 at 9:37 pm | # | Reply to this masterpiece

    It’s very easy to ridicule the practice of adding up the National’s numbers on the main network with those on Newsworld, but none of you (including you, Ouimet) have provided a good argument against it, nor have I ever seen one.

    On the other hand, the argument FOR it is quite logical. First of all, many people do NOT watch the National on the main network because they prefer to watch it at 9 p.m. (and not just 9 p.m. EST — 9 p.m elsewhere in the country so as to watch something else at 10). I’m one of them. If 10 p.m. were the only option, it’s very likely that a substantial number of those people would tune in. The other argument that I’ve heard is that it’s not certain that these are DIFFERENT people. I can’t imagine that anyone would seriously argue that anything more than a tiny percentage of viewers (relatives of reporters??) would watch the same newscast twice. So a great percentage of all these cumulative numbers represents different viewers. (

    The attempt to make an analogy between news and entertainment programs (like Corner Gas and Conan) is misplaced. People sometimes watch re-runs of the latter, I don’t know anyone who likes to see news again.

    But all of that is less important than the non-commercial significance of those numbers. CBC is a public broadcaster. Its mandate has nothing to do with proving to advertisers that their programs are worth paying for. It’s not about having more lucrative commercials on the main channel instead of on a cable network.

    The real question is whether or not a program is of value to a large number of Canadian people. It seems crazy to think that the 400-500 thousand viewers who watch the National on Newsworld aren’t part of that equation. More than a million Canadians watch the National every night. Period. That’s very important when you consider that the only other program on CBC that gets this kind of viewership is Hockey Night in Canada.

    And, by the way, contary to what the previous person wrote, I am not so sure Richard Stursberg is unhappy that the National “appears” to be losing out to CTV and Global.

  12. Anonymous
    Posted February 10, 2008 at 9:08 pm | # | Reply to this masterpiece

    Does anyone believe for a second that advertisers are that stupid? And that’s what this is all about – Dick trying to boost declining ad revenues by fudging the numbers. The CBC sales department is in a state of chaos – they give away their ad time on some of Dick’s programming.

    As for declining ratings on the National – it’s all about credibility.

  13. Enik
    Posted February 10, 2008 at 8:29 pm | # | Reply to this masterpiece

    This combining of numbers business is one of the most ridiculous jokes that CBC has ever tried to pull. Why doesn’t CTV add their numbers for Corner Gas on the main channel with those for the repeats on the Comedy Network? They’re both analog channels. Or add up all those multi-channel rebroadcasts of Conan O’Brien and Fashion Television. FT could turn out to be the number one program in Canada for the fourteenth year!


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