Philip Reevell on why there's more to a ratings hit than a place in the top 70 best rated programmes table.
Philip Reevell on why there's more to a ratings hit than a place in the top 70 table.

There's a difference between a ratings hit and a ratings success - a successful show does well for its channel, whereas a hit absolutely nails the opposition. The distinction is highlighted by a valuable service provided by Attentional (previously David Graham and Associates) which assesses a show's share against the genre average for its channel and timeslot. It also takes into account whether the programme aired on a weekday or at a weekend.

So whereas our top 70 is a broad measure of the highest rated programmes in any particular week, Attentional's Targeted Index (TI) score recognises that 'genres as different as drama and current affairs cannot be expected to achieve the same audiences'.

The point can be illustrated by looking at a programme that constitutes a hit in Reevell's Ratings top 70 and comparing its rating with its TI score. So, for instance, our hit of the week is still The X Factor - the fifth most popular programme of the week, which won 8.1 million/42% share on Saturday at 7.25pm. Not surprisingly, it also has a high position in Attentional's TI table for Saturday night, with a TI of 143.

But in Attentional's table The X Factoris in seventh place - and the highest TI rating programme for Saturday is the England vs Israel Match of the Day Live at 4.30pm. This had an audience of 6 million/42% share and a TI of 166. Interestingly, ITV1's returning Ant and Dec's Saturday Night Takeaway at 8.25pm on Saturday had a rating of 6.3 million/30% share, and a TI of 114. The dynamic duo was held back by the new series of Casualty(pictured), also at 8.25pm, with a rating of 5.6 million/27% share and a TI of 102.

How is the TI calculated? Let's imagine that a natural history programme airing on BBC2 at 8.00pm secures a 15% share. The TI system will analyse all natural history programmes that aired at 8pm on weekdays on BBC2 over the past 12 months. Say the average share is 12%. This 12% figure becomes TI's benchmark (or average) and is awarded a score of 100. Our natural history programme with a 15% share has performed 25% better than average so is awarded a TI of 125.

Attentional then ranks programmes - anything with a TI over 150 is 'excellent', between 110 and 150 'above average', 90 to 110 'average', 70 to 90 'below average' and so on. So X Factoris above average, Ant and Decjust above average. Applying the same system to Sunday night, BBC1's drama The Dinner Party at 9pm attracted 6.8 million/30% share and a TI of 120, an above average performance. ITV1's Hell's Kitchen, which also aired at 9pm, attracted 3.1 million/14% share - and a TI of 63, which would be deemed poor. The overall impact of these two shows is demonstrated in ITV1's Sunday night share, which fell to 19% from last week's 29%.

TI tables and ratings tables can yield very different results for the same programme - a modest to low rating programme can have a high TI score. For example, scoring well on the TI were films A Fistful of Dollars on Five at 8pm on Sunday with a score of 136 and a rating of 1.6 million/7% share and Bend it Like Beckham on BBC2 at 9pm with a score of 130 and a rating of 2.2 million/11% share.

I'll come back to the TI system in future, but you can find out more at

Philip Reevell can be contacted at