May's TV Ratings Narrow Losses, Young Viewers Decline

While May’s TV ratings narrowed some losses compared to previous periods, there is continuing concern about younger viewers leaving traditional TV networks -- especially cable networks.

MoffettNathanson Research says ratings among key 18-49 viewers are still plagued by declines among younger viewers in that demographic.

For May, MoffettNathanson says viewers 18-24 witnessed a 10% drop in Nielsen People Using Television levels (PUTs) -- with a 16% drop among 12- to-17-year-old viewers and a 14% decline among viewers 2-11. At the same time, viewers 55+ were virtually flat.

There have been similar young viewer declines going back four years. Nielsen’s People Using Television metric is the total number or percentage of audience of people watching TV at a particular time.

“The shocking decline in usage for younger demos is causing havoc for all the cable networks with target demos below 24 years old,” says the report.

MoffettNathanson Research says May witnessed a narrowing of the declines for cable networks, due to the NBA Playoffs, which aired on ESPN and TNT.



Cable networks had a 5% decline in prime-time C3 ratings among 18-49 viewers to 14.9 million. C3 ratings are the average commercial minute rating plus three days of time-shifted viewing. This was better than the 9% decline in April, and the 12% drop in February and March.

Broadcast networks sank 9% in the prime time for the month to 4.7 million 18-49 C3 viewers.

Total day ratings suffered more for both broadcast and cable in the month with both losing 11% -- to 2.6 million and 8.2 million, respectively.

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