TV Ratings, The Transgender Conversation & Real Life

TV stations know nearly instantly how their programs are doing in a market like Columbus.

We have something called “overnights”, which are ratings that we get the day after a show or newscast is on the air. From those ratings we can estimate what percentage of people were watching us and we can also see how many people were watching another network or program.  When I was working at NBC4 we got those ratings delivered via email every day.

I don’t have access to those anymore, but if I did– I would be highly curious to see how the debut of “I Am Cait” fared in the ratings battle.  If you didn’t know, we’re in July and that’s a ratings period (we call it Sweeps) that advertisers use to figure out where they want to place their commercials.  Stations and networks want to pull good audience numbers.  It’s no wonder the E! network decided to debut Caitlyn Jenner’s show last night, when you consider that fact.



Source: US Weekly

Jenner has intrigued and fascinated with her confident take on transgender life since her interview with Diane Sawyer aired earlier this year.  She’s inspired and most likely saved many lives, young girls and boys who were feeling confused and hopeless now see a woman who has set herself free from a lifetime of turmoil.  But Caitlyn Jenner has also caused controversy.  There was a large group who was disappointed that she received the Arthur Ashe Award for Courage instead of Lauren Hill at the ESPY’s, the young college woman who died of brain cancer after capturing the hearts of people all over Ohio and the rest of the country.  When it was announced that Jenner would receive the award a group in Cincinnati started selling t-shirts with the picture like the one below on them, after getting permission from Hill’s family and The Cure Starts Now foundation.



Source: The Washington Times

But, as is usually is the case in our culture, the world quiets down on both fronts.  We move on so quickly anymore to the next topic.  Jenner ended up wearing a gorgeous winter white dress by Versace to the ESPY’s and gave an eleven minute or so speech thanking her family and wanting to leave America with an important thought.

“I’m here to promote a simple idea: accepting people for who they are.”



Source: Vogue

And after that– the story line quiets down within a couple of days.  The media latches onto the fact that her stepdaugher Kourtney and her husband Scott are separating.  Again.  Sunday night was really the first chance for the world to come back and see what Caitlyn’s world now looks like.

From 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Monday, E! aired episodes of Keeping Up with The Kardashians back-to-back.  Afterwards, as you may have been able to guess they re-aired “I am Cait.”  I watched.  The following is my train of thought:

It hurt to know that her family had no clue what was going on in her life after watching their interviews in the car ride over to her home.  But I also know how that can happen inside families.  I wondered how much Esurance and AT &T paid to have ads inside the show.  I thought it was odd that Kylie saw her father for the first time as a woman over FaceTime.  Especially after she’d been having dental work done.  Later in the program, they meet face-to-face in a warm family moment.   Kylie puts extensions on her hair and Jenner says “it ‘s like one thousand pounds being lifted off your shoulders” when you can be honest with your family.  Kim K. eventually makes her entrance into Caitlyn’s closet and that’s when we find out she’s been courted by brands like Tom Ford and Diane von Furstenburg and more, as this is a major fashion moment unlike any other which that scene has experienced before now.

I think a moment of total transparency happens when Caitlyn and her mom are talking on the couch.  You see the struggle a family goes through when dealing with this.  And I think her mom does an amazing job of handling her feelings with honesty while being supportive of her.  I also think Caitlyn takes on suicide among the transgender community in a very direct way, that a larger audience needed to hear.


Did you watch?  Will you watch?  And do you think this conversation that involves a celebrity is shaping our conversation better about the transgender community?  Or will you turn to some non-celebrity related shows such as “I Am Jazz” on TLC to see how a normal family in America is dealing with this same issue?

Leave your comments in the section below– I’m curious to hear what you’re thinking.