CBS Declines Shrink vs. Last Season, Competition Resumes Falling

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December 4th, 2008

After 10 weeks of the 2008-9 broadcast prime-time season (through November 30), all the major English broadcast networks continue to be down across the board vs. last season. Recently, those declines seemed to be stabilizing in many cases, but compared to last week, only CBS continued that trend, reducing its declines in all demos. The rest of the major English broadcast competition resumed its slide vs. last season.

In the advertising important adults 18-49 demo, CBS seasonal comparisons improved from -5.8% to -4.9%, and in adults 18-54 CBS improved from -4.8% to -4.1%. Bleeding viewers yes, but when the rest of the competition is down by double digits CBS's results are *good* news.

This is all part of the long term decline of the broadcast networks as viewers switch to cable networks, as they've been doing for more than a generation.

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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