Core 18-49 viewership in Nielsen C3 ratings -- the average commercial ratings plus three days of time shifting -- dropped 8% for national TV networks, according to MoffettNathanson Research.
Cable networks took an unexpected steeper-than-unusual decline in C3 versus broadcast TV -- down 9% to 17.8 million viewers versus broadcast 4% drop to 7.1 million.
In the second quarter, ABC was the only network to see gains in 18-49 C3 viewership -- in large part due to the much stronger rated NBA playoffs and finals. ABC was up a big 10% to 2.37 million 18-49 viewers.
CBS was best of the rest -- down 7% to 1.62 million; NBC, losing 14% to 1.6 million; and Fox continuing to witness big declines throughout the season, giving back 17% to 1.3 million.
For cable, only independent TV channel groups rose -- up 10% to 639,000. AMC Networks were down 1% to 382,000; Scripps Networks Interactive lost 2% to 676,000; Time Warner also was down 2% to 2.0 million; Fox was off 3% to 699,000; and Discovery was also down 3% to 1.15 million.
Viacom and A&E Network sank the lowest of the cable groups -- down 12% (to 2.01 million 18-49 C3 viewers) and 19% (822,000) respectively.
By way of comparison, national TV advertising witnessed smaller declines. National broadcast TV (including NBC stations) was down 2.4% to $3.4 billion during the period; cable networks sank 3% to $5.8 billion.
Overall, the second three months of 2015 for national TV was down 2.8% to $9.2 billion, which MoffettNathanson says is the “weakest growth in non-recessionary quarter.”