TV Ratings Erosion: Sports Metaphors Fit Bill

Network TV erosion is like an overused sports metaphor, say for LeBron James or Kobe Bryant: "You can't stop it, you can only hope to contain it." (More sports metaphors to follow, in parentheses.)

This season witnessed a 16% drop in network ratings, following a double-digit decline a year ago -- the year of the writer's strike. (It's going to be a long plane ride home.)

But that's not the real problem: With erosion moving at a double-digit pace - versus the mid-single digits of recent years - when do TV advertisers try a new game plan? (Turnovers killed us.)

Say there is a 15% decline in the 2009-2010 season, and then a 12% decline in the 2010-2011 season? That would result in broadcast ratings sinking a collective 30% -- on top of a 30% drop over the last two and a half years. (He's lost a step or two.)

At some point there will be a major crack in the TV universe, with money going elsewhere -- cable, digital video, sandwich boards, or coupons. (They're in a must-win situation.)

You can talk about cable all your want, as well as the still-slow rise in TV usage overall. But at some point established TV cable networks will no doubt witness some viewer erosion of their own, as newer technologies and more fractionalization occurs. (He's been the subject of trade rumors).

In three years time, that means the average three rating among 18-49 viewers of network shows, will be a two rating. By then "American Idol" will be doing below 20 million total viewers only once a year -- at its finale. (Not to take away anything from Denver, but we didn't play like we're capable of playing.)

The only big TV stuff left to buy will be the Super Bowl and maybe the Academy Awards. All this will mean is: we need to take it one game at a time. Or, maybe it's gut-check time



4 comments about "TV Ratings Erosion: Sports Metaphors Fit Bill ".
Check to receive email when comments are posted.
  1. William Hughes from Arnold Aerospace, May 26, 2009 at 3:01 p.m.

    Then one of the Media Giants (Viacom, Clear Channel, Disney, ect) will announce they are declaring bankruptcy. (Say it ain't so, Joe!)

  2. Allen Mostow from SynergySystems - TVInCars LLC - Int'l Mgt Consultants, May 26, 2009 at 3:11 p.m.

    Ubiquitous Broadcast TV availability (palm of hand and driver's seat audio) might help turn back the tide. (Threw Up A Hail Mary)

  3. Michael Colello from Time Warner Cable, May 26, 2009 at 3:25 p.m.

    Network TV erosion means (broadcast) but you didn't say that. You reference that (cable) will at some point in the future possibly suffer the same fate...failing to address the fact that cable isn't a's a delivery system...and the programming stands on it's own...just like broadcast...ever wonder why ABC, NBC and CBS own more cable's about the content....the programming coming from the so called (broadcast) networks is generally not what the mass of viewers want when once upon a time they did ...otherwise the ratings would be up and growing for those broadcast networks...trying to justify why one network is down and another is up...look at what they (broadcast) you watch it? One day the brain trust will get it all TV is not just broadcast. Question: if you sold burgers and sales were in free fall year over year for 5 years in row at what point do you re-evaluate the product and how it tastes? That's a do or die situation.

  4. Sean Cunningham from Cabletelevision Advertising Bureau, May 27, 2009 at 11:13 a.m.

    This would have been a factual story if only the first word of the story was "Broadcast..." In 2009 assuming that the reader "knows" that the term "network TV" is meant to refer to the declining sub-sector of Broadcast TV, which holds roughly 40% of the national TV rating points, and mentioning Cable among a list of also-rans (including sandwich boards) is akin to assuming in 2009 that if you use the term "automotive business" that the reader "knows" that you means "the big three" and that listing "import autos" (Toyota, may have heard of them) among a list of also-rans including skateboards is appropriate.

    The simple fact is that TV usage and ratings continue at record high levels despite a proliferation of media options.

Next story loading loading..