What TV Content Truly Engages Viewers? A lot of 'Last Man Standing,’ Very Little 'The Voice'

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Earlier this year we released a paper discussing Content Power, our set of metrics that measure true audience engagement.

To illustrate those metrics we took TiVo primetime TV data from May 2018 and showed, beyond linear ratings, which programs were not just bringing in an audience but keeping them there. Now, with TiVo data from November of last year, here are our new findings on Content Power:


ABC’s cancellation of Tim Allen’s sitcom Last Man Standing caused an uproar in 2017, even though it was still performing well in ratings. Fox finally picked it up for a seventh season, and according to our Holding Power metric, that was an incredibly smart idea. We’ll get to a breakdown, but here is a quick primer:

  • Drawing Power is how many viewers tuned in, both live and DVR, weighted by urgency (watching live is a more urgent view than taping to watch later)

  • Holding Power is how engaged viewers were, based on two, more granular, metrics:

    a. The median percentage of the show viewers completed

    b. The average amount of times viewers paused the show or changed the channel, aka number of segments

Now, while Last Man Standing was #25 when it comes to Drawing Power -- not bad out of 53 shows -- its holding power was exceptional. First, a chart on the median percentage of the show completed by viewers.

Top Ten Primetime Shows by Median % Complete.png

As you can see by this chart, Last Man Standing ranks #3, only behind heavy-hitters The Big Bang Theory and The Walking Dead.

But looking at the chart below, which is the average number of segments, Last Man Standing is #11 (Please remember that the fewest viewing segments/shortest bar means more people are engaged), while The Big Bang Theory is #20 and The Walking Dead is at the end with more viewing segments than every show except one. That means when people start watching they keep watching.


So when we combine these two metrics in Holding Power, we can see that after Last Man Standing draws people in, more than any other show it holds their attention.

Top Ten Primetime Shows by Holding Power.png


When it comes to Drawing Power, The Voice in incredibly strong. The singing competition was #4 according to our metrics. But its Holding Power is very weak, winding up far, far back as you can see by the red arrow below. That is a gap of 35 places between its drawing and holding power.


Right behind The Voice in Holding Power is another show in the top twenty: How to Get Away With Murder (the green arrow). While it was bringing people in, the thriller/drama was losing people relatively quickly, which seems especially problematic for a show that is so plot-heavy.

And, beating only five other shows, is Dancing With the Stars (the black arrow). The show, unbelievably on its 27th season right now, squeaked into the top twenty on Drawing Power, but was at a troubling #48 when ranked by what we would consider a truly engaged audience.

Further observations:

  • Bob’s Burgers clearly punched above its weight, as the Fox cartoon’s Drawing Power was near the bottom, but was at #14 in Holding Power.

  • Also when it comes to Holding Power, reality TV usually takes a big hit, so credit goes to The Curse of Oak Island which landed in the top ten for Holding Power, and Gold Rush, which was at #11

  • On the other end of the spectrum, four CW shows — Arrow, The Flash, Supergirl and Riverdale — were towards the tail end of both Drawing Power and Holding Power, which means few people are tuning in and fewer are remaining engaged. That the CW has renewed all of them means the network may see some other potential, though Arrow’s eight season will be its last, and for only ten episodes. It remains to be seen if the rest will soon follow.