2008-9 Broadcast Season Falls Further Behind 2007-8

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October 15th, 2008

After only 3 weeks of the 2008-9 broadcast season, only Univision is showing strong gains vs. the 2007-8 season with double digit audience growth in most areas. Among the English networks, Fox clings to a tiny increase in average viewers and a 3.3% increase in adults 25-54 and the CW has a 1.1% increase in adults 18-34. Everywhere else there are declines. On average, the top 5 English networks are down 9% in average viewers and between 10% and 12% in adult demo group viewers.

Note: In previous charts/posts, I calculated the network averages without weighting for the broadcast minutes of each network. That overweighted the average for Fox and CW numbers because they broadcast fewer minutes/week and produced incorrect averages. For example for this week's averages, the difference would have been about 1.5%. From now on, all network averages will be broadcast time weighted as they should have been. The individual network numbers past and future are unaffected by this.

Of English networks, Fox is in best shape with a mix of small advances and declines in audience segments. The CW has lost almost 15% of its audience, but has gained 1.1% vs. last year among adults 18-34 (and likely more among women, but we don't see that data from Nielsen). If they really can build a network around 3 nights a week for young women it may be working.

With CSI back in its lineup, CBS closed the gap a bit with last season's results and I'd expect some additional progress in the coming weeks, but it currently is down 6-15% in different audience areas. ABC has similar declines of 8-15% from last year's audience. NBC is faring the worst, with declines of 13-15% across its audience demos.

Our chart shows broadcast network prime-time season to date average prime-time viewership for the 2008-9 season compared to the 2007-8 season. Click the image for a full sized chart.

Nielsen TV Ratings Data: ©2008 The Nielsen Company. All Rights Reserved.

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