Crossing The TV 'Rubicon': Cable TV July Viewing Sinks 19% -- Down 32% Over 2 Years

While streaming and cord-cutting continue to sink all legacy TV, cable TV networks in particular have been taking the brunt of that activity -- down 19% in total day 18-49 July viewership versus a year ago, according to media research company MoffettNathanson Research.

Over a two-year period, the picture is worse. MoffettNathanson, analyzing Nielsen results, says cable TV networks have declined 32%.

Broadcast has not been spared either -- it was down 39% this past July, due to comparisons to July 2021, which included one week of the Tokyo Summer Olympics and late post-season NBA and NHL games.

Looking over a two-year period, broadcast is down 18% in July.

“More troubling to us is the fact that broadcast's loss of key events wasn't cable network’s gain, as viewers did not return to cable,” writes Michael Nathanson, senior research analyst of MoffettNathanson Research.



All this points to continued trouble for big cable TV network groups -- such as NBCUniversal and Warner Bros. Discovery, down 29% and 24% respectively for the month. This followed similar declines in June of this year -- a 29% sinking for NBCU, and 32% for Warner Bros. Discovery.

This follows the recent news from Nielsen's The Gauge report for July -- which shows streaming platforms now leading for the first time -- cable TV in terms of share of total day persons two plus viewing with a 34.8% share to cable’s 34.4%. Broadcast was at 21.6%.

Looking at this dramatic result, Nathanson notes: “The Rubicon has been crossed.”

He adds: “These significant linear cable network ratings challenges should put further pressure on the ad dollars each media company relies on. Add in a potentially deteriorating macro environment and it becomes hard to find cause for optimism for many legacy cable network owners.”

1 comment about "Crossing The TV 'Rubicon': Cable TV July Viewing Sinks 19% -- Down 32% Over 2 Years".
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  1. Ed Papazian from Media Dynamics Inc, August 23, 2022 at 3:25 p.m.

    Wayne, if MoffettNathanson wanted to present a more informative and less sensational analysis they would show the changes in total viewership----persons 2+---as well as adults aged 18-49  or any other "demo". Instead we get a shocking headline about huge audience losses for cable--- but only for those who are most likely to migrate elsewhere---younger/middle aged adults. The average minute  cable viewer is over 50 so we don't have the full story.

    As for this being a tipping point---as some are claiming---perhaps yes; perhaps, no. If cable surges ahead of streaming in September---by half  a share point--- will we start saying that cable has revitalized itself, somehow, and it's streaming that's in trouble? Of course not. Patience, folks. You  have to plot these trends over longer periods of time than a few weeks in order to  peer into  your chrystal ball for portents of the future.

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