Against the backdrop of three of four major over-the-air TV networks witnessing declines in viewership this past season -- and general long-term declines in broadcast TV -- a number of midsize and small, locally based digital networks have seen hikes in viewing.
Spanish-language network Univision grew 6% to 1.46 million average prime-time viewers, as well as its young-skewing sister network UniMas, up 40% to 523,000.
Viewing data is from the Nielsen-measured live program-plus-seven days of time-shifted viewing metric and live program-plus same-day of time-shifted viewing for the most recent weeks of the Sept. 23, 2019 through May 10, 2020 viewing period.
A number of smaller, locally based digital networks -- channels built on local TV stations' digital signals -- also had higher viewing results.
Weigel Broadcasting’s MeTV was up 5% to 740,000 prime-time viewers, while Katz Broadcasting’s Grit network was 14% higher to 387,000. (Katz is a subsidiary owned by E.W. Scripps.) Katz’s Bounce TV added 15% to 302,000 and Katz’s Court TV Mystery was up 20% to 185,000.
Several midsize broadcast networks had more mixed or lower results. This includes Ion Television, down 2% to 1.28 million; NBCU’s Telemundo, off 8% to 1.1 million; and The CW, slipping 22% to 1.04 million.
Only one of the four major TV networks -- Fox -- posted gains this past season. That's due to its airing of the Super Bowl, higher-rated NFL “Thursday Night Football” games, and as a result of high viewing from its reality singing competition show “The Masked Singer,” up 17% to 6.4 million average prime-time viewers.
CBS, which continues to lead all broadcast TV networks in prime-time viewing, was down 14% from a year ago to 7.7 million viewers, while NBC lost 9% to 6.6 million and ABC slipped 3% to 5.5 million.