Broadcast Network Seasonal Declines Stabilizing?

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November 19th, 2008

After 8 weeks of the 2008-9 broadcast prime-time season (through November 16), all the major English broadcast networks continue to be down across the board vs. last season, but compared to last week, the year over year averages have improved in a number of areas suggesting that the season to season declines might be stabilizing.

In the advertising important adults 18-49 demo, CBS seasonal comparisons improved from -6.7% to -6.0%, ABC improved from -15% to -14.3%, NBC improved from -11% to -10.6%, although Fox and the CW continued sliding vs. last season. Does that suggest a bounce back vs. last season or just a pause in the declines? We'll have to wait for future weeks results to figure that out.

Regardless, 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 2007-8 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 averages making comparisons tricky.

Univision is up across the board vs. last season as 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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