Plenty Of Ratings Woe This Season For Broadcasters

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November 12th, 2008

After 7 weeks of the 2008-9 broadcast prime-time season (through November 9), there is plenty of woe for the big English broadcast networks with double digit percentage losses in the all important adults 18-49 demo for ABC, NBC, Fox and the CW. CBS has fallen the least in the 18-49 demo, down only 6.7% and holding steady.

Economically, this season is shaping up to be a very difficult one for the big broadcast networks. Viewership is again down, and national spot TV ad rates are crashing.

The 18-34 demo adults performance of the CW continues to be a notable exception to the overall trend this season. Our Nielsen reported ratings show it down just 1.2% vs. last season, a success on a relative basis. CW's more detailed Nielsen ratings (which we see via press release only) show them up with 18-34 women on the season.

My guess is that CBS, CW and ABC will begin to see some improvement vs. last season in early 2009 when prior year comparisons to the strike damaged portion of the season get a lot easier. NBC may be another matter, their results last season actually improved on a relative basis during the strike, but they have the Super Bowl this year, which will also lead to a huge spike in their average making comparisons tricky.

Univision is up across the board vs. last seasoas is MyNetworkTV (MNT). They're up drastically over last season, thanks mainly to the addition of Friday Night Smackdown!. Note just their numbers, because their bars are truncated. The scale for the other networks would be useless if I adjusted the scale for them.

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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