When HBO's startling new anthology drama True Detective premiered on Jan. 12, it attracted an impressive 2.3 million viewers--a three-year high for an HBO launch. But since its first airing, that same episode has netted more than 6 million viewers, a number that any broadcast network would envy.
It's called time-shifting, the television industry's hottest new gauge of audiences who are turning more often to their DVRs when watching their favorite programs. In particular, television execs focus on something called Live+7 Day ratings. Simply put, that adds the live audience to the accumulated audiences that are watching the same program, via DVR, over the next week.
Live+7 ratings have given significant boosts to a number of television series that had been languishing somewhere in the middle of the pack of the 100-plus shows competing for your attention. For example, NBC's Blacklist, starring James Spader, has seen an 83 percent jump in its audience after factoring in Live+7 numbers. Other regular Live+7 winners include ABC's Modern Family and Nashville, and NBC's Parenthood.
Commercial networks may have some explaining to do with their advertisers, as many of their DVR viewers are, no doubt, fast-forwarding through commercials. Meanwhile, HBO and other pay-cable networks don't have that problem and are seeing some of their highest TV ratings to date.
You can regularly track the Live+7 ratings at tvbythenumbers.zap2it.com.