Nomura media analyst Anthony DiClemente says there was a eye-opening 12.7% decline in traditional linear TV viewing in January: "One of the worst declines we have seen since we launched coverage of these companies... Netflix, Amazon Instant Video and Hulu continue to siphon viewers away from linear TV."
Viacom collection of networks was down 23%, and Disney cable networks, including ESPN, lost 7.5%, said DiClemente. Bernstein media analyst Todd Juenger also has been warning about SVOD viewing dinging cable networks for sometime. He points to an 8% drop across all cable networks for 2014.
We understand all this, as well as how other media might be contributing. But what we don’t have is details of viewing trends for all TV viewing — not the least of which is clouded from SVOD providers like Netflix and Amazon who aren’t interested in providing/securing traditional TV viewing rating data.
Decades ago, when broadcast networks were under attack from growing cable companies, many could point to Nielsen for some decent assumptions. And yes, we all know critics have complained loudly about Nielsen’s shortcomings in specific areas for years. But at least we had some apples-to-apples guidance.
Now with new digital platforms? It becomes much harder. We all assume lower traditional TV viewership for both broadcast and cable means TV viewers are doing other media stuff. But those broad broad generalizations aren’t enough.
Others might point to singular TV data points — like the recent Super Bowl’s new record 114.4 million viewers, or the strong Fox drama “Empire” that rose in its first weeks — as a sign not all is over in traditional TV-land.
No matter. What we are left with are specific issues about traditional TV media companies trying to examine their own content usage.
Said Howard Shimmel, chief research officer at Turner Broadcasting, at a recent TV measurement conference: “The fact that we don’t have the ability to look at a telecast of a show or the flight of a series…and don’t understand the (audience) behavior is really sad.”
For many, TV measurement is still in the dark.