C3 Viewership Decline Steepens; Down Double Digits In Q2

Key TV viewership losses accelerated in the second quarter, with double-digit percentage declines for both broadcast and cable networks.

MoffettNathanson Research says Nielsen C3 viewership among 18-49 viewers in the second quarter of 2017 in prime time sank 12% for broadcast and cable networks -- following an 8% decline in the first quarter.

Broadcast networks fared worse than cable in the second three months of this year. They were down 15% (to 5.5 million 18-49 prime-time C3 viewers) with cable off 12% (to 21 million). The C3 metric is the average commercial minute ratings plus three days of time-shifted viewing.

“Things are playing out worse than we imagined, as the second quarter 2017 will mark a record low in prime time... [the] decline of 12% surpasses the prior weakest 1Q 2015, which was up against a Winter Olympics compare,” writes Michael Nathanson, senior research analyst for MoffettNathanson Research.



NBC was the best of the worst: down 9% (to 1.39 million viewers), while CBS lost 10% (1.25 million). ABC was down 19% (1.7 million), and Fox sank 20% (1.0 million).

Among cable networks, A+E Networks was down 5% (1.2 million prime-time C3 18-49 viewers), while NBCUniversal slipped 6% (2.1 million). Discovery Networks was down 7% (1.7 million), while Viacom gave up 8% (2.4 million) and AMC Networks was down 9% (681,000).

Four cable network groups are down double-digit percentages: Fox cable networks, down 10% (1.2 million); Scripps Networks Interactive, 10% lower (1.0 million); Time Warner, giving up 14% (2.7 million); and Disney-ABC, down 15% (1.1 million).

3 comments about "C3 Viewership Decline Steepens; Down Double Digits In Q2".
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  1. Ed Papazian from Media Dynamics, July 25, 2017 at 9:54 a.m.

    Just to clarify, these declines are not additive. In other words, if a year-to-year decline of 8% was recorded for one month or quarter and the next month or quarter sees a 9% decline, this does not mean that ratings were down 17%, just 8.5% across the longer time frame. Also, adults aged 18-49 may be a common, though not the only, national time buying "currency", but this group does not represent the majority of the broadcast networks' vewers. The median age of primetime broadcast network viewers is well over 50 years and, in the case of ABC, CBS and NBC, is closing in on 60.

  2. Long Ellis from Tetra TV, July 25, 2017 at 10:55 a.m.

    The reason that A18-49 is much more relevant than A50+ is that advertisers value younger audiences. Very few brands buy on anything older than A25-54. 

  3. Ed Papazian from Media Dynamics Inc, July 25, 2017 at 1:04 p.m.

    Long, the upfront and many scatter buys on national TV are corporate not individual brand buys. The selection of a broad based "demo" like 18-49 or 25-54 is not a targeting device but is an accomodation between seller and buyer creating a single GRP "currency" for the multi-brand buy and its attendant audience tonnage guarantees. Individual brands in any corporation define their targets in many ways, often  applying weights to several demos or product user groups and, in many cases, drilling down to consumer mindsets, as well. When TV time is bought, the corporation, which wishes to maximize its "clout"---not necessarily to get the lowest CPM but for other reasons----must compromise  using an umbrella metric that all of the sellers will agree to, otherwise it can't compare the offers of one seller with those of another. As for the 50+ population, as this is by far the easiest to reach via TV, many advertisers who sell lots of goods and services to middle aged and older consumers see no reason to use 50+ as a buying "target" assuch a move tilts the odds decidedly in favor of the sellers and this would be against their interests. But that does not mean that they place little or no value on people who  may account for 40% or more of their sales.

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