Report: Broadcast TV Viewing Mostly Live

Sports, news, competition shows and latenight programs now account for between half and three-quarters of the Big Four's gross ratings points, according to a new MoffettNathanson report. NBC, home of Sunday Night Football and The Voice, is most heavily reliant on live — for better or worse.

For the past few years, the Big Four broadcast TV networks seem to have become increasingly reliant on sports and other live or near-live programming.

The securities research firm MoffettNathanson backs up that perception with a report today that shows that between half and three-quarters of the gross ratings points (people 18-49, C3) generated by the four during the 2015-16 season were generated by live programs.

“Big picture, the broadcast networks have steadily become the home of live sports, news and reality competition,” the report says. “In other words, programming (and advertising) that is best consumed live.”

In addition to sports, news and reality competition, the report includes latenight shows in its definition of live.

NBC, purveyor of Sunday Night Football and The Voice, produced a schedule with the greatest proportion of live GRPs at 74%, followed by Fox (70%), CBS (52%) and ABC (45%).

“From an advertiser’s perspective, sports and news programming is an attractive way to find efficient reach of time-sensitive messages like new movie openings, sales promotions and new product launches,” the report says.

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“While we’d agree that going forward those with the most share of live programming are best positioned, NBC and Fox’s share is also indicative of the lack of success these two networks have had with their scripted programming,” the report adds.

Fox, the report shows, is heavily reliant on sports, which generates 57% of its GRPs.

The reports also underscores the weakness in sitcoms. “The shift in consumption and programming patterns has all but killed the 30-minute sitcom with only 6% of GRPs now coming from that genre.”

During the past season, the report also calculated, total day viewership (people 18-49, C3) for the combined Big Four was down 5%. Individually, ABC was down 11%, NBC was down 9% and Fox was down 6%. Thanks in part to the Super Bowl, CBS posted a 4% gain.

Overall, entertainment programming was down 7% for the Big Four, while sports was down just 2%.


Comments (12)

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John Avellino says:

June 8, 2016 at 11:41 am

YES – 80% of TV is still consumed through Live, Local, Broadcast TV and the BIG FOUR. Whats Outright disgraceful is that the Affiliates aren’t Waging War with the Networks to move on FCC Docket# 14-261 that would allow some OTT OVD’s to become MVPD’s so that Broadcasters can have a linear pathway to the internet and get paid Retrans. THIS is absolutely Common Sense and would propel local broadcasters with a new revenue stream and promote localism which is so vital the American Way of Life. Local TV Broadcasters are getting chipped away at in the digital world as the delivery mechanism shifts to broadband. Give us a NETFLIX for all of our Live, Local, Broadcast TV in an easy Log In system with NO Hardware, No contracts So Millenials will actually be interested in Broadcast TV. Sometimes I feel the powers that be are so blindsided by the fact they have had a Moat around their business model for so long and they have the arrogance to think it will just continue. Go into a College Classroom today and ask how many of those kids are “Cord Nevers” and Cord Cutters and even if they know what a good defintion of what BroadcastTV even is. Then Ask them if they sub to Netflix and 95% of them will raise their hands. Wake Up Local Broadcasters cause The FCC has this ability to advance the industry on the docket right NOW. Docket# 14-261 Promoting Innovation and Competition in the Provision of Multichannel Video Programming Distribution Services

Veronica Serrano Padilla says:

June 8, 2016 at 1:11 pm

Good points. If OVDs were allowed to act as MVPDs and distribute broadcast and cable channels online there would also be more competition in the MVPD world – and that’s not necessarily a bad thing.

    Keith ONeal says:

    June 8, 2016 at 11:50 pm

    Well. I’m pretty sure that FilmOn (or is it FilmOnX) would go all in on being a MVPD if given the chance.

Linda Stewart says:

June 8, 2016 at 2:44 pm

Keep in mind that affiliates would not be able to cut retrans deals with the OVDs unless they had the consent of the networks.

    John Avellino says:

    June 8, 2016 at 3:55 pm

    Yes…Networks would benefit as well. Give them the Consent and Feed the children whats good for the Goose is good for the gander. Contractually – changes can be made in this regard, need to be made and would be beneficial to both.

    Veronica Serrano Padilla says:

    June 8, 2016 at 5:00 pm

    But Mr. Jessell, if the FCC redefined what an MVPD is and bestowed those rights on OVDs they would have the same Must Carry / Retransmission Consent rules as cable/satellite (and market rules). And as KLatech points out, networks would benefit too because they’d get a portion of any Retrans fees. If broadcast affiliates and networks don’t make their live content available for streaming Millennials won’t be watching.

    John Avellino says:

    June 8, 2016 at 5:30 pm

    Ridgeline Conveyed it better than I could. The Grip of control is outweighing the benefit of Revenue. It’s a brand new ball game out there and getting with the times can help propel and save localism.

    Wagner Pereira says:

    June 17, 2016 at 6:42 am

    That’s sad

John Avellino says:

June 8, 2016 at 3:58 pm

It’s TIme for the AFFILIATES to Put their Big Boy Pants on and Man Up to the Networks before the Networks roll thru with their O&O Brigade and cut them all out of the Pie anyway. This is just on the Horizon. The Affiliates walk around like they are “Handcuffed” by the Networks when they just need to Join Forces to make a stand.

    Wagner Pereira says:

    June 8, 2016 at 11:26 pm

    Ask a certain Network Affiliate in Boston how well that works, when according to his court challenge, dropped the value of his station over $100M.

    John Avellino says:

    June 9, 2016 at 12:59 pm

    Who Ansin in Boston? Yep. Well let me tell you something. He was Let Down Big Time by the Affiliate Association not coming to his aid. – When I said AFFILIATES in all caps I was referring to the Affiliate Groups making the stand.

    Wagner Pereira says:

    June 9, 2016 at 11:45 pm

    Again, shows what you know – which is next to nothing.


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