ABC Prime-Time Holds Steady, Better Monetization

Beverly Hills, Calif.-- ABC had a good season this past year, considering heavy competition from other networks, especially those with big prime-time sports programming.

Speaking at the Television Critics Association meeting here, Paul Lee, president of ABC Entertainment Group, says the network’s big trio of Thursday night dramas -- “Grey’s Anatomy,” “Scandal” and “How to Get Away With Murder” -- yielded more viewers than CBS’ “Thursday Night Football” when factoring in time-shifting viewing from all its TV/video platforms.

For the season, ABC is in rare company: It was slightly up to a Nielsen 2.2 rating among 18-49 viewers from its 2.1 rating of a year ago, in analysis of live program plus seven days of time-shifted data. ABC landed in third place behind NBC and CBS.

ABC was also higher in total average viewers -- 7.9 million viewers from 7.5 million a year ago. Only CW can claim positive gains in both categories. All other English-language broadcast networks have seen declines in 18-49 viewers.



Overall, network TV continues to see steady erosion. But when looking at long-range time-shifting -- live program plus 35 days of time shifting -- it can be a different story. ABC is up 7%, says Lee, when looking at this month-long metric.

Lee says networks can now monetize their shows in different ways: “Broadcast was driven by one revenue stream -- advertising. Now you have double or triple [streams].” Lee says this includes retransmission fees, as well as revenues from subscription video on demand, international, and other digital platforms.

A new digital system also helps show producers expand their vision creatively. “It allows you an ecosystem where you can truly create a portfolio of shows,” says Lee. This including niche shows “American Crime” the ability to make it to a network’s schedule.

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