Among the top cable networks there have been some big winners and a few losers in prime-time viewership during the current season to date through May 18, 2008.
The big winner, with an season over season viewership increase of 33.3% is Nick-at-Nite's line up of primarily vintage sitcoms. Spike's male oriented programming showed a viewership increase of 21.3%. TBS and ESPN both are riding the wave of the increased viewing of sports programming up 20.3% and 20.2% respectively. Fox News is likely benefiting from the Presidential election cycle and is up 12.1%. While CNN is likely also up, they were not in the top 20 cable networks last season so we have no comparison data. CNN is in the top 20 this season with a season to date prime-time viewership of 1.157 million.
The biggest loser is Cartoon Network down 11.1% followed closely by Discovery down 10.0%.
In aggregate, the total prime-time viewership of those 19 networks is also up from 27.12 million to 29.04 million or about 6.7%. Although we can't draw any conclusions about total cable viewership trends this season from these numbers, we know that over time cable has taken signifcant share away from broadcast viewing. This season the top 5 English broadcast networks (ABC, CBS, NBC, CW, Fox) have seen their prime-time broadcast average viewership decline almost 9%.
2006-7 vs. 2007-8 Season To Date Live+SD Prime-time Audience:
The table shows season to date Live+SD prime-time viewership in millions for the 19 cable networks that were among the top 20 for both the current and last season. 2006-7 data is through 5/20/07. 2007-8 data is through 5/18/08.
Note that neither Nick-at-Nite and Cartoon Network broadcast during the entire prime-time period.
Nielsen TV Ratings Data: ©2008 Nielsen Media Research, Inc. All Rights Reserved.