This article isn’t the first time that we’ve spoken about Outlander season 4 within the context of its ratings. We’ve spoken in the past about some of our expectations for the show, and also our hopes that there could be a day when an episode gets more than 2 million live viewers.
Yet, in the end, the secret-that-is-not-all-that-secret-at-all is simply this: It doesn’t really matter. Starz is one of the few networks that can actually say this. They’re not advertiser-based; they’re subscriber based. If there were only five viewers watching live and then 7 million watching after the fact, that would be more than fine. As long as Starz is generating a ton of subscriber income, they’re happy. They’re giving these people as many ways to watch as possible: Live, On-Demand, via the app, or of course via their own DVR. They can also go back and watch old episodes whenever they want.
What we’re wishing entering season 4 is simply this: More of a public sea change when it comes to how series’ numbers are reported. It would be great to be able to see more consistent streaming information for Outlander plus also comprehensive live+3 (live plus three days’ worth of DVR viewing) and live+7 data for the show — therefore, we’d have a far more comprehensive view of how well the show is faring every single week. It would also be easier in order to cross-compare it with how network and other cable series are doing.
As of right now, we’re continuing to lose the (fairly-meaningless) live+same-day ratings as a measuring stick just because that is mostly all we have to go on. It at least offers a representative sample of the show’s fan base and allows you to see where enthusiasm for live viewing is as opposed to where it was, for example, a year or so beforehand. The large problem with Starz in particular is the fact that they release episodes early on the app and those views aren’t counting in live+same-day viewing; that is simply about people watching the show via television / DVR that same day. It’s antiquated for sure, but that’s the standard measurement for the industry. Because Outlander viewers are watching these episodes early, though, that hurts the overall performance in these numbers.
Hopefully, at some point over the coming years we’ll see a shift where more streams / app views and the like can be released publicly and in a timely manner. (Timeliness is one of the issues hurting it at present.) There is also less of a reason publicly for networks to release overall viewership than there used to be; Netflix, for example, doesn’t do it and they just make decisions on shows internally.
Outlander is very successful — there’s no denying that. We just wish for season 4 there were consistent opportunities to see just how successful it really is.
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