TV Doldrums: Key Adult Audiences Drop In C3 Research

First-quarter 2015 TV commercial ratings continue to sink this season.

First -quarter 18-49 prime-time audiences sank 12% among the top four broadcast networks and were down 10% among top non-kids cable networks, according to Sanford C. Bernstein & Co.’s analysis of Nielsen TV C3 research -- commercial ratings plus three days of time-shifted viewing data.

C3 ratings are the primary currency that TV marketers use to buy commercial TV inventory.

ABC and CBS had the best results during the period -- 8% and 3% higher, respectively. NBC was down 16% in the quarter, and the network had unfavorable comparisons against a year ago when it aired the Winter Olympics. Still, NBC's results were boosted this year with the airing of the Super Bowl.

Fox was down a massive 41% -- partly as a result of its overall prime-time doldrums, but also because of unfavorable comparisons to a year ago when it had the Super Bowl.



Other mid-to-smaller broadcast networks showed gains: CW improved 2%, Telemundo was 9% higher and Univision was up 1%.

Total TV C3 18-49 ratings were down 5% at the start of the TV season in September -- partially due to "Thursday Night Football” on CBS. It then went lower -- below 10% -- in December, January, and February, before improving slightly in March.

In the first quarter of 2015, all major cable network groups witnessed aggregate declines in C3 18-49 prime-time viewership -- with only five individual networks in the positive territory.

Among the cable groups, the worst results were at A&E Networks (down 21%); Viacom (off 20%); and NBCUniversal (sinking 17%). The better performers were Fox cable networks (slipping 3%); Disney (also losing 3%); Scripps Networks Interactive, AMC Networks, Time Warner (each losing 5%); and Discovery’s networks (giving back 6%).

Of the five individual cable networks that were up, three belonged to Fox, according to Todd Juenger, vice president/senior analyst of U.S. media for Sanford C. Bernstein, who co-authored the report. This included FXX, Fox Sports 1, and Fox News Channel. Other improving networks: HGTV, up 11% and CNN; 14% higher.

In the first quarter, kids cable channels overall were down 15% in C3 total day rating among the 2-11 demographic: Cartoon Network was 14% higher; Nick Jr., up 1%; Nickelodeon sunk 33%; and Disney XD was off 9%.

2 comments about "TV Doldrums: Key Adult Audiences Drop In C3 Research".
Check to receive email when comments are posted.
  1. Nicholas Schiavone from Nicholas P. Schiavone, LLC, April 28, 2015 at 5:06 p.m.

    Dear Wayne,

    What does the Sanford C. Berstein report say about the increases in C7 Research and what does the Todd Juenger say about Nielsen's TV Set Usage and Persons Viewing data being down in an abnormally extreme manner?

    Analysts are quick to cite weather as an explanatory variable.  Why not this year?  Nielsen data are off year-to-year in a manner that defies normal human behavioral change and defies oppressive weather patterns across the country that ordinarily lead to more reported TV Usage.

    What really is down is Nielsen's capacity to capture the Broadcast & Cable TV Audience everywhere it occurs.  In the same way that Nielsen was quantifiably late to tracking and crediting DVR audience, Nielsen is now long past due in the tracking of computer, tablet and mobile viewership.  Where is Nielsen's measurement of TV Everywhere.  Seems at times like it's nowhere near.
    Moreover, in an effort to play catch-up with new technology and implement absurd sample expansion plans (i.e., modeling -not tabulating- people meter data), Nielsen is more than likely losing control of in-tab and representative sampling. When Nielsen fails to recruit and track a sufficient number of multi-screen, multi-person households, ratings only APPEAR to decline in a precipitous manner.  The chanhe is NOT real.

    If Sanford C. Berstein and Todd Juenger have not reported on Nielsen's methodological artifacts over the past 12 months, then their analysis seems incomplete and misleading.  These headlines in the midst of the 2015 Upfront are economically depressive and depressing.

    We need all the facts, not just the obvious or easy ones.

    Looking forward to a much more thorough assessment from all responsible for knowing better ...

    Thank you.

    Nicholas P. Schiavone
    Nicholas P. Sciavone, LLC

  2. Nicholas Schiavone from Nicholas P. Schiavone, LLC, April 28, 2015 at 5:54 p.m.

    TV and Digital Rise in Q1 

    – James Fennessy, SMI

    Published: April 28, 2015

    With retail consumer spend strengthening almost +1% in March after a slow holiday season and some other positive signs of life for the economy, advertisers are also returning to the market following a soft start to the year. SMI’s ad spend results for the first quarter saw the market leap by +4% in March to deliver solid growth.

    With the month now behind us, SMI’s data offers real insight into the buoyancy of the market in the full first quarter of 2015 and shows there is more than a glimmer of optimism for Upfront negotiations in television and digital in the coming months.


    A look at the past month’s data is a telling indicator of how each media sector will rank as we move into Q2, an all-important period for advertisers and media owners.


    The national television market grew by +1% for March with cable TV just edging out broadcast TV growth. As the industry heads into the critical upfront period, the trends we see in our data can help marketers make informed decisions for the upcoming season.

    The TV market also delivered healthy gains ... .Taking out (the Winter Games) programming, broadcast TV delivered a considerable +7% increase year-on-year and cable also jumped by +4%. The big winners for the quarter were CBS and ABC in broadcast and AMC, ESPN, MTV and the Food Network in cable.

    While TV and digital delivered substantial growth, other media types in the sector struggled in March. Radio grew by only +1% and newspapers were flat for the month. The magazine market shrunk -9% compared to March 2014 and out-of-home fell -1% for the same period to round out a challenging start to 2015.


    While it was a mixed month for ad spend, SMI’s latest data shows advertisers are still showing strong support to TV as they ramp up their investment in digital at the expense of other media.


    James Fennessy is Chief Commercial Officer at Standard Media Index, the leading global provider of real-time advertising spend sourced directly from the booking systems of the world’s largest media buying agencies. 

    Posted by Nicholas P. Schiavone, LLC // Re: The Other Side of TV in Q1 2015


Next story loading loading..