Commercial TV Ratings Take Another Overall Hit; NBC, TBS Gain

Prime-time and total day commercial TV ratings -- still the primary measurement for TV advertisers -- continued to drop, by high single-digit percentages in October.

Nielsen C3 data -- average live commercial ratings plus three days of time-shifted viewing -- sank 7% for both prime-time and total day across broadcast and cable networks for key 18-49 viewers, according to MoffettNathanson Research.

Cable fared a bit better than broadcast -- down 6% in prime time to 17.5 million viewers versus an 8% drop for broadcast to 10.4 million viewers. Cable also sank 6% in total day 18-49 C3 ratings to 10.4 million, while broadcast gave up 9% to 5.5 million.

NBC led all networks in the month -- up 2% to 3.34 million 18-49 prime-time viewers due to stronger “Sunday Night Football” ratings. CBS was down 10% to 2.75 million. But MoffettNathanson Research says this is an sequential improvement from September, where the network was down 18%.



ABC was down by 12% to 2.22 million as a result of lower NCAA football ratings. Fox gave up a big 23% in the month to 1.86 million, losing ground because all five Major League Baseball World Series game were pushed into November from their usual late October time frame.

Time Warner’s TBS was the big cable network TV gainer in the month -- up 53,000 total day 18-49 viewers in October, largely due to strong end-of-the-season baseball playoff ratings.

Viacom’s Nick at Nite was the second-strongest cable network performer -- up 40,000 18-49 total day viewers. MoffettNathanson says the network improved because of higher PUT levels for kids 2-11. Sister network Nickelodeon also improved in total day viewers.

Other cable networks seeing increases in the period included Discovery’s ID (36,000 more 18-49 viewers); AMC, 29,000; BET, 19,000; VH1, 17,000; Discovery, 15,000; Food Network, 12,000; HGTV, 11,000.

Big losers for the month includes FX and USA Network each declining 79,000; A&E, down 52,000; and ABC Family, 51,000.

2 comments about "Commercial TV Ratings Take Another Overall Hit; NBC, TBS Gain".
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  1. Ed Papazian from Media Dynamics, November 17, 2015 at 8:52 a.m.

    Wayne, as these reports come out quarter by quarter, each announcing "another" rating loss, some people may think that these "losses" are cummulative when, in actuality, they are part of an overall slide in average ratings caused by more and more viewing options competing for ratings. The same sort of report for the next quarter will, no doubt, indicate another "hit" but actually what is happening is merely an over-all reduction across entire seasons. It's not happening independently quarter by quarter. In other words, average ratings are down by about 7% for the entire season, not 28% as some might take it by adding up the quarterly losses.

  2. Darrin Stephens from McMann & Tate, November 17, 2015 at 9:59 a.m.

    Note that for all the talk about sports programming in the report, that genre is generally not sold on C3 ratings. It's mostly live or live plus same day.

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