Although scripted/unscripted TV program viewing has faced recent challenges -- generally down by mid-single digit percentages across many networks -- sports programming continues to fare a bit better.
For the year so far, Pivotal Research Group reports that year-to-date, national TV sports programming viewing is off just 1%.
“Live sports viewing has held up, despite ratings declines,” writes Brian Wieser, senior research analyst at Pivotal. Over the past year, he says, all nationally rated sports viewing on a live-plus same-day basis, and on a live-plus seven-day basis, was up by 5% in 2016 over 2015. Excluding Olympics, sports viewing was down 3%.
For the current year, Disney TV networks sports programming has declined 4% so far. NBCUniversal has lost 9%.
Fox-owned networks are up 51% so far -- with the Fox Broadcasting network aired the Super Bowl this year. Taking out that week, for this year and last, Fox is 11% higher. CBS is off 3% so far -- excluding the Super Bowl weeks this year and last.
Overall, year-to-year, Disney commands a 35% share of all national sports viewing; NBCU, 14%; CBS, 13%; and Fox, 11%.
During the most recent week, the NBA has been the biggest individual sports network in terms of viewing, commanding a 26% all due to the playoffs. Viewing is up 7% for the year -- including the NBA Playoffs -- over the year before.
Football programming had a 19% share of viewing, due to the college football draft. What Pivotal called ‘sports commentaries’ -- sports news and information programming -- was at a 17% share. Pivotal says this programming continues to generally decline in share -- accounting for 29% of sports viewing in 2016; 35% in 2012; and 33% in 2010.
Motor sports had for 9% of viewing recently; baseball and hockey each with 7% of viewing; and soccer, 6% of viewing.