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

Categories: 1-Featured,Broadcast TV,TV Business

Written By

October 16th, 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 three weeks of the 2012-13 season, this season continues to be a lot worse for three of the big four broadcast networks.

During the first three weeks of the 2011-12 season, in the advertiser important adults 18-49 Most Current* ratings, ABC is down 12% vs. last season (2.3 vs. 2.6), CBS is down 24% (2.6 vs. 3.4), Fox is down 19% (2.5 vs. 3.1). Mostly by virtue of its move of The Voice to the Fall, NBC is the only network to rise, it's up 15% vs. last season (3.0 vs. 2.6). Season to season comparisons for the CW are going to remain apples/oranges until the end of the season since, unlike recent seasons when they started their shows "early", this season they started "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 these Most Current* 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!

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*Most Current ratings are a blend of Live+7 Day DVR viewing and Live+Same Day DVR viewing. Through week 3 they are 2 weeks of Live+Same Day and one week of Live+7 Day. As the season progresses, they will become increasingly weighted towards Live+7 Day ratings.

 
  • eridapo

    Damn scary if you ask me….

    Fragmentation, DVR, and streaming will continue to drag these numbers down…

  • Martin

    Will NBC ever hand over Thursdays to the Affiliates, i’m still betting Milf Island 2 would be a hit for NBC.

  • Honey Badger

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

    Sadly, Not surprising

    And NBC without The Voice, Football, and Revolution would also be getting crushed

    The Cancellation Bear will have a big year, as I have said before I feel sorry for The Cancellation Bear – this is just too much for the The Cancellation Bear

    What do the networks do now?

  • Dan S

    I think eventually NBC will salvage its Thur lineup after getting rid of some dead weight. They have the new Michael J Fox show & 1600 Penn waiting in the wings. Maybe start from scratch & go with all new shows & see what sticks. Wed is NBC’s other problem night but I think at some point they’ll find the right combination to improve their ratings

  • James

    Anymore I pretty much wait until they pull most of the commercials out of the show. AKA 3-7 days later on my ‘on demand’ service.

    All the major next works disable the fast forwarding of commercials on these services – that pushes views like me away – keep pushing me away, and I’ll stay away.

    I don’t like commercials, I already pay a cable provider why should I have to watch commercials?

    Add that to: USA, TBS, Spike, TLC, Food offering consistently better programming then the major 4 & the put in fewer commercials on demand & I can skip them! – its no wonder they are in decline.

  • cj west

    People who are interested in scripted shows that will last a full season are of course watching cable. Viewers are afraid to get interested in a network scripted show for fear it will be suddenly dropped. CBS skews older, draws big overall numbers for scripted shows but the 18 to 49 aren’t heavily watching. The reality is that “reality” television has changed viewer numbers and even though these shows in many cases do ok the older skewing audience isn’t watching. Numbers go down and network tv will go the same route as network radio of the 50’s.

  • THE OLD MAN

    CRUSHED is probably a rather strong word to be using, but kinda makes sense overall. At this point it does look rather bleak for the Nets, but IMHO I feel they may have a chance at turning around their fates.

    All is not hopeless yet.

  • http://tvbythenumbers.com Bill Gorman

    “i’m still betting Milf Island 2 would be a hit for NBC.”

    I’d be startled if somebody hasn’t made a pitch for something like that somewhere already.

  • http://tvbythenumbers.com Bill Gorman

    “CRUSHED is probably a rather strong word to be using, but kinda makes sense overall. At this point it does look rather bleak for the Nets, but IMHO I feel they may have a chance at turning around their fates.”

    Perhaps a bit of editorial license/economy concerning ABC’s 12% drop, but how can you argue vs. Fox’s & CBS’s drops?

    CBS, Fox Ratings Floating Gently Downward vs. Last Season

    As for “turning around their fates”, the long term trend is not going to be turned around, but regression to the mean makes another big down year less likely for next year.

  • TimsDale4ever

    Why wouldn’t they be falling? Everytime I turn around you have another new cable channel launch as well as more and more cable shows popping up everywhere. LMAO, even the WEATHER channel has joined in with their own reality shows. Basically you have the same audience spread out thinner and thinner. There’s nowhere to go but down. Not surprised at all — and this has only just begun.

  • Oliver

    You have to wonder at what point does the broadcast television business model become fundamentally unsustainable. I guess they have the sweetener of cable carriage fees to fall back on for now.

  • http://tvbythenumbers.com Bill Gorman

    “Not surprised at all — and this has only just begun.”

    Well, it really began about 30 years ago.

    “I guess they have the sweetener of cable carriage fees to fall back on for now.”

    It’s more than just a sweetener. CBS gets something like a third of their revenue from retransmission fees already.

  • chezmoi

    More football on primetime?

  • Petar Ivanov

    @It’s more than just a sweetener. CBS gets something like a third of their revenue from retransmission fees already.

    ANd what about NBC FOX and ABC.

    Is it possible in next years football to be all week long in primetime instead entertaining shows….

  • Carl LaFong

    Year over year % change on C3 Adults 18-49. Prime time week of 9/24/12 versus week of 9/19/12.

    ABC: -16
    CBS: -23
    NBC: +10
    FOX: -19
    4net:-12

    Discuss.

  • Carl LaFong

    (should read “versus week of 9/19/11″)

  • http://tvbythenumbers.com Bill Gorman

    “ANd what about NBC FOX and ABC.”

    Not sure, but likely similar.

  • http://tvbythenumbers.com Bill Gorman

    @Carl, thanks for the numbers!

    Feel free to share anytime!

    And as I expected, the % are quite similar to those for the Live + Same Day program ratings.

  • MoHasanie

    ABC in 4th place…Yikes! Weird, since ABC has the No.1 comedy and drama but is looking like it might be in 4th position this year. Not a good year for it, and they have no new hits this year.

    CBS is way down, but the SB will give its average ratings a boost. Its shows are aging, and its Monday nights last year were much more stronger than they are now.

    Fox is way down as well, but Idol in the spring will help it unless Idol has huge falls.

    NBC is doing pretty good. The Voice is on in the spring, so that should help, but without Sunday Night football in the spring, ratings will drop.

    All the networks are quite close, except NBC, but their average ratings will fall in the spring, so it looks like CBS will 1st this season, with a close race from Fox and NBC for second place. I’m interested in what ABC will average this season.

  • CarShark

    Now that you mention it, I have noticed a lot more press releases about DVR ratings recently. We’ve also seen more of the mythical Live+3 numbers, though not the commercial numbers. I wonder if this will keep up.

    What I find most striking is how little coverage ABC and FOX’s struggles get outside of the ratings sites. Especially compared to the almost never-ending worries about NBC and (usually) their comedies.

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