The Source of Bauer’s Power

The following takes place between 9:00pm and 10:00pm.

Monday night means a Bauer power hour, a sixty minute stay in the land of make-believe following the FOX show, ‘24‘. Engaging in our weekly espionage means moving lights to their “off switch” and a vow of silence from all sofas—a tradition eight years running.

Through the years, the couches, company, and even the TVs used to take it in have changed, but the time dedicated to the drama has not—it’s always a full sixty minutes. Despite the advent of the DVR, advertisers are still guaranteed complete attention to their commercials among our group, a ritual reserved solely for this single show.

The commercial breaks, often overruled with the frenzied fast-forward button, create a chance to build anticipation as the two-plus minutes are spent agonizing over the story line and what comes next. Simply stated, speeding through sponsorships would stall the total satisfaction served by Bauer.

TV networks turn to Nielsen to verify their viewership and judge consumers’ jubilee for a given show, but what the ratings don’t reveal—the show finished a tough third last Monday, even falling behind a rerun of ‘Two And A Half Men’—is the manner in which the show is seen.

Our fixed formation of five viewers adds a solitary stat to the show’s overall ratings when we watch on a single TV—missing not only more numbers, but the show’s status as a weekly event. Beyond the basic data lies a paradigm probably produced for other programs (everything from ‘American Idol’ to NFL games): a show’s ability to create an experience for its viewers.

Because we extend our enjoyment by watching real-time rather than recording, we tend to talk through the two minute respite—often about the commercials providing the pause.

As advertisers roam through the bevy of broadcasts to pick their placements, they’d be wise to noodle a new metric of success, one which accounts for audiences by gauging the richness behind the ratings—now that’d be something even Jack couldn’t stop; well, not in a single day anyway.

As you march on through the waning days of January’s winter-wonderland, we encourage you to stay warm by dancing as if no one was watching.