With Less Sports, More News Viewed, The Industry May Need To Redefine Pricing, Premium TV

Live TV viewing needs a new definition and context.

First the good news: Streaming and on-demand TV has been rising, due to more shut-in consumers. So has live TV, a laggard in recent years. 

Live viewing -- even without sports programming -- has climbed in the U.S. over the last several weeks, 2% higher, says Nielsen. In large part, it is due to news consumption, local and otherwise, and entertainment programming.

Live viewing of daytime non-news programs -- syndicated talk shows, entertainment magazines, court programs, and other content has seen an uptick, too.

CBS says its daytime network show “The Price is Right” has scored the highest viewing in four years. For the week of March 30-April 3, 2020, the show averaged 6.1 million viewers.

That said, live viewing isn’t up everywhere, on all platforms. Conviva, a video analytics/optimization company, says in Europe, live streaming is down 30% overall (March 22-28) in viewing hours versus March 8-14. This is true even though European TV news content is up 130%.



Like in the U.S., European countries have been similarly affected by COVID-19.

Most European live viewing goes to sports content, which typically accounts for a 30% share. During the month, as COVID-19 concerns rose, streaming sports viewing hours were down 91%.

Streaming on-demand programming -- free or subscription -- is up 41% in Europe, in terms of percentage changes in viewing hours. News programming in Europe was 76% higher for March 8-14; 138% (March 15-21); 132% (March 22-28). Live sports is absent from the screen.

Bottom line is that even with lower live TV viewing, overall TV viewing -- on demand and otherwise -- is 9% higher in Europe.

Now back to the U.S. Many of the 500 premium U.S. scripted TV shows have stopped production. That means those shows -- which are part of the overall pool of live TV viewing -- are yielding sharply lower video impressions for TV marketers to buy. This is not helped by lower consumer demand for products and services.

From all of this, do we need to redefine what premium and live TV programming is, at least in the short term?

3 comments about "With Less Sports, More News Viewed, The Industry May Need To Redefine Pricing, Premium TV".
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  1. Ed Papazian from Media Dynamics Inc, April 13, 2020 at 10:52 a.m.

    Wayne, your speculation is interesting. But, news, both nationally and locally, is already premium priced and always has been--and sports will return, eventually. So your question about redefining other types of content---based on a current spike in viewing----really refers to game shows, talk shows, daytime courtroom shows, celebrity gossip shows, reality shows, etc. which the buyers will never accept as premium priced entities because, if they did, then this would justify the sellers to demand huge CPM hikes for their real premium content---news, sports, primetime entertainment fare and specials. These would still be regarded as better places for advertisers to be and also,  it is recognized that the networks spend much more for such content and take far greater risks to provide it, so advertisers accept that they must help by paying more per viewer in order to have acces to such shows.

  2. Michael Pursel from Pursel Advertising, April 13, 2020 at 2:21 p.m.

    short term may be a couple of months more. Ed is correct, most news programming is at a premuim already.  IF we start to open life again by Mid June, which is a real possiblity, consumers should return to a somewhat normal routine, watching sports again as it resumes, relying less on live News coverage of task force reports, less on news local and cable, and probably a nice surge in entertainment programing to help wash the virus coverage memories from the brain bank.  IMHO.

  3. Ken Kurtz from creative license, April 15, 2020 at 3:22 p.m.

    Watched some compelling sports programming last night on ESPN. It was a game that I attended in person in 1988 in Los Angeles... Game One of the 1988 World Series. My season tickets at Dodger Stadium were seven rows up from first base, but things always got wacked out at playoff time, and I wound up behind home plate with my buddy Billy Targowski.

    I was fascinated watching that 32 year old game last night, even though I'd previously seen it live from behind home plate. It was like I was watching it for the first time, only through TV cameras.

    And that iconic, unbelievable, history changing limp-off in the ninth inning? Sublime, with Scully's call. In the stadium 32 years ago, there was just a dull roar, and occasional screams, and the desperate need to pee from drinking too many beers. 

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