TVB says examining Nielsen numbers shows ad-supported cable channels posted year-over-year decreases in the primetime daypart across households, persons 2-plus and adults 25-54 in both the summer and regular season of 2011-12. And in the first week of the new season, the time-shifted portion of broadcast TV audience rivals total viewers of cable TV’s top shows .
TVB today released an analysis of television ratings that shows that during the summer, when cable traditionally gets its strongest ratings, its viewing levels were lower, and were down for the entire season.
For the last several years, cable has attracted its peak audiences during the summer programming season as broadcast networks traditionally program reruns during this period. However, Nielsen data, as analyzed by TVB, indicates that this trend changed in the summer 2012 season.
Advertising-supported cable television posted year-over-year decreases in the primetime daypart across households, persons 2-plus and adults 25-54 in both the summer and regular season of 2011-12. On a household basis, decreases were more significant during the regular season (-4%) than in the summer (-2.6%), which, TVB said, demonstrated that the Summer Olympics on broadcast television was not the only factor in the recorded declines.
For the first week of the 2012-13 broadcast season, including findings that show that the time-shifted portion of broadcast television’s same-day top 20 fall premieres outpaced the total audience (live + same day) of the majority of cable television’s highest-rated original summer programming.
Additional findings of TVB’s analysis include:
- Cable’s summer premiere season yielded mixed results with all major programmers showing declines among their returning series (ranging from a decline of 1% on A&E and AMC to a decline of 23% on USA ) and only a few networks introduced new programming that was as strong as the performance of their returning series (AMC: 102 Index; History: 129 Index; TBS: 123 Index).
- Within summer cable’s 2012 original season, broadcast television commanded 94% of all A25-54 GRPs among the top 100 telecasts. The broadcast dominance was not an outcome related to the ratings strength of the July/August Summer Olympics broadcast television programming as the percentage of GRPs rose to 96% when all sports programming was excluded from the rankings.
- In a comparison of the top 50 summer cable originals versus summer repeats on broadcast television, repeat programming on broadcast television occupied the majority of the top 100 ranked programs of the summer, whereas original programming on cable dominated the bottom half of the top 200.
- Among all telecasts this summer, cable originals landed one position in the top 100 and 32 positions in the top 500. The 50th ranked cable original series placed 614th among all telecasts in the summer season.
Stacey Lynn Schulman, SVP, chief research officer of TVB, commented: “Analysis of Nielsen data clearly highlights that despite cable television’s concerted efforts to not let facts get in the way of a good story, broadcast television viewership continues to dominate the summer season.
“Cable networks have moved swiftly over the last several years to introduce high-profile original series during the summer at a time when broadcast television networks are primarily offering repeat programming. However, the audience for broadcast television in the summer season continues to significantly dwarf the audience for cable television’s first run programming which includes a number of critically acclaimed series.
“Even more illustrative of the disparity in number of viewers delivered by both platforms, the time shifted viewing audience alone for broadcast television’s first week of programming for the 2012-13 season outpaced the total live viewing audience for cable television’s summer programming in most cases,” Schulman added.
Steve Lanzano, TVB president-CEO, commented: “Understanding where viewership happens is a critical consideration toward determining the success or failure of an overall marketing plan and that viewership is definitively and materially biased toward broadcast television.”