Heading into the upfront TV market, overall TV viewership erosion stands at a modest 4% decline in April, an improvement over recent periods --- as strong advertising revenue looks to boost the next TV season. MoffettNathanson Research says cable TV networks were the better performers -- posting flat results in April at a Nielsen C3 18.2 million 18-49 viewers for prime-time programming. Broadcast networks sank 13% to 6.5 million.
In total day 18-49 viewing, broadcast fared a bit better than prime time, and cable a little worse. Cable was down 2% to 10.5 million, while broadcast was down 9% to 3.6 million. Nielsen C3 ratings are the average commercial minute ratings plus three days of time-shifted viewing.
Broadcast networks were hurt in prime time by the NCAA Men’s Basketball Championship game going to Turner networks from CBS.
Analysts are expecting an improved upfront advertising market -- boosting revenue by 3% to 4% on average for broadcast and cable networks, following on the heels of a strong scatter market, which witnessed healthy double-digit percentage gains.
In April, CBS was down 24% to 1.72 million prime time 18-49 viewers. ABC was also off 24% to 1.55 million viewership due to general program weakness, while NBC slipped 5% to 1.60 million viewers.
Fox scored big results, up 24% to 1.66 million. The new season of Fox’s “Empire,” which a year ago started its series debut in the first quarter, debuted its latest season in the second quarter.
Broadcast networks has been declining in prime-time C3 18-49 viewers since the start of the season, down in October 2015 by 8% in prime time 18-49 viewers -- then declines of 7% (November 2015); 7% (December 2015); 11% (January 2016); 12% (February 2016); 13% (March 2016); and 13% (April).
The best-performing cable group in April was AMC Networks, up 33% to 942,000 C3 18-49 prime-time viewers, due to new episodes of “Better Call Saul” and “Fear the Walking Dead.” Fox cable networks were 3% higher to 1.2 million; Disney, 2% more to 1.3 million; Time Warner, up 2% to 3.3 million; and Scripps Networks Interactive inching up 1% 1.1 million.
Sinking in April were Viacom, down 5% to 2.8 million; A+E Networks, losing 9% to 1.3 million; NBCUniversal, off 12% to 2.2 million; and Discovery Communications, sinking 13% to 1.8 million.