National TV Viewership Dips, Sports Holds

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.

1 comment about "National TV Viewership Dips, Sports Holds".
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  1. charles bachrach from BCCLTD, May 3, 2017 at 2:29 p.m.

    It's all in the writing and the limited number of original shows produced.  It takes a viewer a number of episodes to become familiar with a character and when they do....the show is over for the season.  To the networks it's all about THEIR "bottom line.  Soon advertisers will complain as their products won't get enough exposure and sales will drop there.

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