2009: Round-Up Of Cable Winners, Losers
MTV continues to struggle -- now that its reality show "The Hills" is fading, down 10% season-to-date to 807,000 in prime time. The network's latest reading in November does not show much promise for a turnaround. MTV is down 12% year-to-year to 668,000 million viewers, and 16% in 18-49 viewers to 418,000. Worse, it is down 31% in the key young women 18-34 demo to 188,000 average viewers.
CNN has been hit with massive drops in overall viewership. Overall for the year, season-to-date numbers show CNN is off 30% to 908,000 in prime time.
Looking at a recent period year-to-year in November, CNN was down 60% in prime time with 679,000 viewers; down 75% in 18-49 viewers to 157,000 viewers. Much of this spiral stemmed from the lack of presidential and election news that ignited ratings in 2008.
MSNBC also took a drop -- but not as large -- down 12% to 817,000 for the year so far. In November, the network -- like that of CNN's election news withdrawal of a year ago -- sank a massive 53% to 668,000 viewers and 62% among 18-49 viewers.
This year, Lifetime grabbed hold of the big "Project Runway" series after a high-profile legal struggle with Bravo. But this did nothing to help the network in prime time, which lost 20% of its overall viewers to 1.19 million.
In looking at November, year-to-year, Lifetime is down 27% in total viewers in prime time to 983,000 and off 15% in 18-49 viewers to 159,000. Deepening problems are with Lifetime's core women viewers: Down 22% among women 18-49 to 337,000 and off 25% in women 25-54 to 341,000 in November.
By contrast, Bravo -- which came out on the losing end of the "Runway" battle -- actually improved its audience, up 6% to 796,000. In November, Bravo, which also carries "Top Chef," gained 14% to 803,000 viewers.
Another women's targeted network, Hallmark Channel, also felt the pinch this year. It lost 18% in overall viewers to 1.10 million. Looking at the most recent period, November, the network's total viewers sank 33% to 993,000 average viewers year-to-year, 37% in women 18-49 viewers to 124,000, and 30% in women 25-54 to 185,000.
It wasn't just MTV; other big Viacom players also lost ground: Spike and Comedy Central. Spike is down 17% to 1.06 million viewers for the year. But in the most recent November period, the network has pulled back some losses, now down 8% to 1.08 million viewers. Its 18-49 demo viewership actually grew 11% in the month to 631,000.
Comedy Central for 2009 is 10% lower to 992,000 viewers in prime time. November had the network down 23% to 1.01 million viewers, and off 21% to 600,000 18-49 viewers.
While AMC can tout big awards, including an Emmy for its "Mad Men" program, this wasn't enough to keep the network from trending down. For the year, the network is off 6% in total viewers to 1.04 million.
By contrast, the rich got richer for cable networks at the top of the ratings heap. The top five cable networks -- in terms of overall viewers -- all increased their viewership in 2009 over 2008.
USA Network, the best-rated network in terms of total viewers, improved 15% to a 3.28 million average; Disney Channel was in second place, up 6% to 2.53 million; TNT added 2% to 2.25 million; ESPN was 9% higher to 2.25 million; Fox News grew 7% to 2.21 million.
Other notable gainers among top cable networks: A&E up 8% to 1.47 million; FX rose 10% higher to 1.37 million; ABC Family increased 4% more to 1.35 million; HGTV a 9% gain to 1.20 million; TLC, up 18% to 1.07 million; and BET 23% higher to 777,000.