ABC, CBS, Fox Primetime Ratings Getting Crushed vs. Last Season

Categories: 1-Featured,Broadcast TV,TV Business

Written By

October 9th, 2012

In the three decade decline trend for broadcast TV primetime ratings there are seasons that are a bit better than the trend (like last season), and some seasons that are worse than the trend.

After two weeks of the 2012-13 season, it's shaping up to be a lot worse.

In first two weeks of the 2011-12 season, in the advertiser important adults 18-49 Live+Same Day DVR ratings, this season ABC was down 21% in week 1 and 10% in week 2, CBS was down 27% in week 1, and 17% in week 2, Fox was down 24% in week 1 and 19% in week 2. Mostly by virtue of its move of The Voice to the Fall, NBC is the only network to rise, it's up 12% in both week 1 and 2 vs. last season. No valid comparison yet for the CW, unlike recent seasons when they started their shows "early", this season they are starting "late".

The broadcast networks know this season's drop from last season isn't pretty, and their PR operations will be putting out a blizzard of Live+this and Live+that DVR ratings to distract attention from it, but you can look past that to the reality.

While the C+3 Day commercial ratings are all that *really* matter to the business of the broadcast networks, their trends are likely highly correlated with the trend of the Live+Same Day program ratings, and I'd be startled if they showed trends that were much different than the Live+Same Day program ratings.

However, if any network PR department would like to provide me with your season to season C+3 day commercial ratings trends and prove me wrong, I await your emails!

  • Nadine

    There’s basic 18th-century economics at work here. As viewership has steadily dropped, networks really pushed the envelope on ad saturation. Ad breaks have become ridiculous. It’s hard to stay awake or stay on the same channel. As other providers become more innovative, people are abandoning live TV. And to be fair, this year’s new network shows have been horrible (as a number of others have noted.)

  • Nadine

    I have no idea if the DVR and streaming percentage of viewing is really “still pretty low” as you say. But I’m not sure that matters much, since the vast majority of younger viewers are totally comfortable with this technology. Those still watching live TV are increasingly much older.

  • Baaa!

    It seems that all DVR viewing is doing is making the demo, already prized as its the hardest Live demo to tap, even harder to hit thus making it even more valuable.

  • Riff Rafferty

    I have nothing to add except I just want to say that Simon Mirren bloke has the best tats in the industry. Can we get him a round of Guinness on the house?

  • Dan

    I think people are watching as much or more television now than in the past, however it’s where and how we watch it.
    I haven’t had cable for over a decade. I could never justify paying more than $100 for the ten or so channel that I would watch consistently. I watch the over-the-air shows via antenna. Those I can’t pick up well, I watch via Hulu. All of my television viewing is routed through my computer so I can work or browse the web as the video is playing. Of the Showtime or HBO shows that I miss I’ll catch when they come out on video.

    As for this season, I’m sorry, but it sucks. The new shows are just bad, the the shows that I do like are past their prime and need to be cancelled. Also, I’m sick of political advertising right now. I think that is one of the greatest turn offs for any TV viewing.

  • Jason

    It’s not just DVR viewing which I must say 50% is not even close. You can’t get satellite or cable without them giving you a DVR these days. However some people do opt out but the majority dont.
    I believe illegal downloading is huge as you can get any tv show within an hour of airing usually heck west coast can get it online before it airs. I have looked and have downloaded yea when bad weather hit and I missed a show or Local tv had to break in for something.

    You also have online viewing, Hulu, iTunes, ext. and then I’m sure there are people with Nielsen boxes who don’t ever or rarely watch network tv. My grandparents Were offerd a box awhile back and they didn’t want it. But they would skew the ratings down because they do not ever watch network tv except the news.

    I think the ratings are going to keep going down because people watch on their own time now not live. I think the ratings are skewed anyway. I just can not see I am sure it’s ot even possible to accurately say because these people have boxes so they represent the rest of tv audience that they can determine who watches wHat. What if my elderly neighbor has a box and watches dancing with the stars but the x number of people she represents actually few of them watch the show.

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