Two big NFL playoff games helped broadcasters earn a slight gain in prime-time viewership for January -- increasing a rare occurrence.
Broadcast was up 1% in prime-time 18-49 viewership in January to 8 million total 18-49 viewers in the Nielsen C3 metric, according to MoffettNathanson Research analysis of Nielsen data. C3 is the average minute commercial rating plus three days of time-shifted viewing.
The two games ran on Fox -- NFC Divisional Playoff and the NFC Championship -- and more than doubled its prime-time viewing in the month to 3.2 million 18-49 viewers from 1.5 million in January 2017..
CBS sank 16% to 1.9 million, while NBC dropped 24% to 1.8 million and ABC lost 3% to 1.5 million.
Cable networks continued to be plagued by double-digit declines -- down 10% in January -- to a total of 16.2 million 18-49 viewers. This followed declines in previous months of 12%, 11%; and 10%.
Overall TV viewing (cable and broadcast) in prime time was down 7% to 24.3 million 18-49 viewers and 9% lower in total day viewing, to 14.3 million.
Only four of the top 25 cable networks posted gains in total day cable viewing. The best-performing network of the month was MSNBC, which gained 47,000. A&E Network improved 26,000, while MTV added 8,000; and VH1 gained 5,000.
Looking at total viewing among cable TV network groups, Viacom continues to lead, averaging 2 million total day C3 18-49 viewers -- down 14% from January 2017. Time Warner is next at 1.7 million, losing 9%, while NBCUniversal is at 1.09 million, off 7%; Discovery Networks has given back 10% to 1.07 million.
Walt Disney came in at 827,000, down 15%, while 21st Century Fox lost 10% to 747,000. A+E Networks has fallen 6% to 692,000; Scripps Networks Interactive, declined 12% to 655,000; and AMC Networks sank 16% to 366,000. Independent TV networks collectively lost 11% to 718,000.