CW Now Declining Noticeably vs. Last Season in Adults 18-34

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December 10th, 2008

An interesting development this week is that the CW, which had done relatively well for adults 18-34 this season, is now down 4.9% vs. the 2007-8 season. Just a few weeks ago they were ahead in that demo vs. last season. And that's slide is due to a fall in their 18-34 numbers this season, not a big increase last season. This trend will be interesting to follow forward.

The CW usually touts their progress vs. women 18-34, and I think Robert is waiting for some data on that from the CW, so we might see more information soon, but I have nothing right now.  Edit from Robert, still waiting on W18-34 data but the recent declines/and rate of decline aren't particularly surprising, nor was earlier relative success.  The CW season was somewhat front-loaded this year vs. last year and so shows like America's Next Top Model which were still airing at this time last year are already done this year, and there were more repeats the last couple of week's than for the corresponding period a year ago.

After 11 weeks of the 2008-9 broadcast prime-time season (through December 7), all the major English broadcast networks continue to be down across the board vs. last season. Most recently though CBS seemed to be narrowing the losses, but since last week it slipped backwards going from a decline of 4.9% to a decline of 5.2% in the advertiser important adults 18-49 demo. In contrast, ABC, NBC and Fox all improved vs. last season's 18-49 average in the past week, narrowing their declines.

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.

MyNetworkTV (MNT) continues its significant growth over last season. 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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