TV networks have now witnessed their first double-digit percentage declines since Nielsen moved to NPX, its expanded viewer sample panel.
Cable TV ratings were down 10% in total day live program-plus-same day 18-49 ratings for the week of Feb. 15-21, according to MoffettNathanson Research.
The research company says this was the first week of double-digit declines since Nielsen transitioned to its NPX -- National Panel Expansion. Nielsen made the change starting December 28, 2015.
NPX is controversial because it uses mathematical modeling of demographic data -- Nielsen's Viewer Assignment methodology -- to be incorporated into tuning data of set-meter market and some diary TV market homes.
Viewer assignment eliminates paper diaries in 45 markets -- 31 set meter markets (markets size 26 and smaller) and 14 diary markets using "code readers." Demographic data for the 25 largest TV markets are derived from people meters.
The biggest cable TV group losers in the most recent week were A+E Networks, off 15%; Disney, down 12%; Discovery Communications, losing 19%; NBCUniversal, sinking 14%; and Viacom, down 10%.
The week before, cable TV was flat versus the previous week. February 1 through February 7 was off 5%; and January 25 through 31, cable network TV groups inched up 1%.
Only independent cable TV witnessed growth -- up 3% -- in the most recent week. In the previous three weeks, those networks had an average of 20% to 33% gains. Scripps Networks Interactive, which had improved during that period of 4% to 10%, lost ground in the most recent week -- down 6%.
Broadcast network data was unavailable at press time for the most recent week. But for the week ending February 14, the broadcast networks were down 11%. Season-to-date, those networks have been faring a little better than cable networks -- down 3% versus cable which is off 5%.
In their most recent week ending February 14, CBS is 4% higher; ABC down 11% (the fifth consecutive week of declines), while NBC sank 26% (below its season-to-date average of being down 10%); and Fox was off 7% (better than its 17% decline of the week before).