C3 Ratings Decline For Cable TV Networks

Cable TV networks continue to see steeper overall viewership declines -- particularly with younger TV viewers.

In the second quarter, MoffettNathanson Research says there was a 9.1% decline in total day 18-49 viewers in Nielsen C3 ratings -- the average commercial minute ratings plus three days of time-shifted viewing -- for cable networks.

Digging deeper, MoffettNathanson says that in June, PUT levels for younger viewers 18-24 (People Using TV) dropped 19%. In addition, PUT levels for 12-17 viewers sank 16%; and even younger 2-11, 11% lower.

Older TV viewers 55 and younger were better performers for cable networks -- slipping just 3%. Overall, cable networks PUT trends have been generally declining since July 2016.

Research also shows the top 20 cable networks were down 3% among all viewers in total gross ratings points from a year ago. It could have been worse, had it not been for cable news networks gains over the past year. Only four of the top 20 networks from a year ago were up: Fox News, CNN, I.D., and A&E.

“Given the continued declines in ratings, we expect cable network advertising to continue to be a problem during 2017 and worry that our forecasted fourth quarter snap back to flat growth may be too optimistic,” writes Michael Nathanson.

Second-quarter cable network advertising declined 3%, according to MoffettNathanson -- projected to sink 8% in the third quarter (a 5% decline when taking out Olympic advertising). It was forecast to recover to flat growth in the fourth quarter.

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