Trad TV Viewers Dip, Cable News Helps Slow Decline

Heading into the upfront advertising market, traditional TV audience erosion continues.

Nielsen C3 ratings, the average commercial minute ratings plus three days of time-shifting, witnessed a 7% decline in the first quarter of this years -- this versus a 6% drop in the fourth quarter 2015, according to analysis from Bernstein Research.

The data include prime time 18-49 viewers for non-kids cable and broadcast and total day 2-11 viewers for kids cable.

Taking out kids viewing, all non-kids cable TV C3 audiences declined 3% -- a big improvement over the 6% decline in the fourth quarter 2015. One of the main reasons is much higher audiences on TV news channels -- Fox News Channel, CNN and MSNBC in particular -- due to the strong interest in the big political season.

Broadcast TV was down 13% for the first quarter. CBS was up 18% in C3 prime time 18-49 ratings (in large part because of the Super Bowl); ABC was down 16%; NBC was off 30% (this due to poor comparisons to its Super Bowl numbers in 2015); and Fox was off 23%.

Cable TV network groups: Disney networks, down 13%; AMC Networks, off 11%; A+E Networks, off 10%; Discovery Communications, down 8%; NBCUniversal slipped 5%; Time Warner, down 2%; and Viacom was flat.

Those cable TV group that improved: Fox, up 7% and Scripps Network Interactive, gaining 4%.

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