TV Network Reach Still Tops Digital

Although TV’s dominant reach of U.S. viewers has seen some declines, it still beats digital media platforms by wide margins.

Pivotal Research Group says that for this past November, traditional national TV networks in the U.S. reached 98% of the population for at least one minute of time in that month.

For networks owned by the largest media owners, reach against all people ages 2-99 declined by 1.8% for a median network.

Brian Wieser, senior research executive of Pivotal, writes: “While it is true that viewing of individual networks on traditional TV are losing reach -- and it is also true that digital media owners, such as Google’s YouTube, have almost as much reach among younger audiences if we consider all content consumed there -- the platform of TV as a whole is holding up better than many think.”



CBS maintains the top spot, with a 72.2% reach against people. It is down from a year ago -- 76.9% -- and 74.6% in November 2015. ABC, NBC and Fox were between 72% and 68%.

The CW and ESPN were at around 40%. In the mid-to-low 30% range were AMC Network, Lifetime, Disney Channel, FX, TBS and TNT.

On a household basis -- which Wieser says is a key measure for pay TV providers in analyzing TV networks they carry -- CBS was at 84.5% of home watching; NBC, 84.2% Fox, 82.1% and ABC, 82.0%. The CW was at a 60% household reach. 

Overall reach declined by around 4% for each of these networks. Big cable networks -- including Lifetime, ESPN, TNT, TBS, AMC, FX and USA -- were in the 40% to 55% range.

1 comment about "TV Network Reach Still Tops Digital".
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  1. Ed Papazian from Media Dynamics Inc, December 20, 2017 at 2:04 p.m.

    Very few TV advertisers use only one broadcast TV network and the same is true of basic cable channels. It is quite routine for a TV oriented brand to attain 60-70% monthly reach via a combination of broadcast and cable buys using a number of dayparts. A heavy spender can easily increase monthly reach to the 80% level and, sometimes higher if willing to spendĀ  more for such coverage. Over longer periods---say three months---, a brand with a 65% monthly reach will build its coverage to the 80-85% level quite easily while the heavy spender will be talking to just about everybody---about 90-95%---with one or more ad exposures. According to Nielsen, only 5% of all "TV Homes" are broadband-only homes; 95% get their commercial TV via cable, satellite or telcos or are broadcast-only households. It's a myth that SVOD households, such as those who subscribe to Netflix, have abandoned "linear TV". Such homes and their residents happen to be easily reached by basic cable buys though their appetite for broadcast network primetime fare is well below par.

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