Top cable networks' ratings continued their decline that began at the end of April -- down 6.8% in July to 18.17 million 18-49 viewers in C3 ratings, the average commercial ratings plus three days of time-shifted data, according to a report by MoffettNathanson Research.
Broadcasters also dipped -- 3.7% to 5.19 million 18-49 viewers in the C3 measure. However, these declines were less than the double-digit percentage drops in the second quarter of the year.
Looking specifically at the broadcast networks, Fox was down 12% to 1.3 million 18-49 viewers in C3, while CBS was off 6% to 1.27 million and NBC slipped 2% to 1.4 million. ABC gained 3% as a result of selected World Cup games, to 1.2 million.
In July, only a handful of top cable networks witnessed improvements: ESPN (up 10%); Food Network (2.3%); HGTV (4.6%) and AMC (2.0%).
Some major cable brands that have declined include: TNT (down 22.9%); TBS (14.7%); FX (16.5%); Fox News (4%); CNN (25.6%); MTV (19.0%); Nickelodeon (20.1%); TV Land (22.6%); ABC Family (6.5%); Discovery (down 16.5%); TLC (12.9%); Animal Planet (28.7%); and Nat Geo (4.5%).
Cable groups as a category also slipped in July. Discovery Networks were down 9% to 1.88 million among 18-49 viewers in C3; Viacom was also off 9% to 3.33 million; NBCUniversal sank 11% to 2.55 million; Time Warner dropped 17% to 2.7 million; and A&E gave back 20% to 1.66 million.
Networks that showed improvement included AMC networks, up 15% to 673,000 (thanks to Sundance Channel); Fox cable networks, which gained 12% to 1.39 million (FXX showed great improvement); Scripps Networks Interactive, which grew 2% to 1.18 million; and Disney, which inched up 1% to 1.3 million.
Cable networks traditionally use the summer period to launch their original TV shows. But now broadcast networks also compete with original programming. Analysts note that the growth of digital media is also a factor.