Cable TV Network, Broadcast Reach Sinks To New Lows In Q3

Broadcast and cable TV networks' viewer reach continues to plummet over the last five years, according to analysis of Nielsen data by MoffettNathanson.

Cable TV networks in particular have been hard hit. Sixteen top cable TV networks are down to an average 17.5% reach of viewers two years and up  in the third quarter of 2022.

In 2017, these networks averaged a 33% reach.

ESPN comes in at a high score of 24%, with USA, TBS, and TNT each at 20%. Syfy, CNN, and Food Network are at the low end, at 15%.

Although cable TV news channels have seen generally higher viewing vs. entertainment/reality TV channels, their reach has also declined -- with Fox News Channel at the low end of 15% (it was 24% in the third quarter 2017) and CNN at 15% (versus 29%).

Broadcast networks have also been hit with a lower reach of around 44% -- down from around 70% in 2017. ABC and Fox affiliates come in at 44%, with NBC at 47% and CBS at 43%.



At the same time, many channels have seen higher “length of tune” levels -- the average duration of time that a viewer tunes to a network.

ABC is now at 34 minutes (it was 32 minutes in 2017); Fox and NBC each at 32 minutes (both were 30 minutes before); and CBS at 30 minutes (26 minutes previously). MoffettNathanson says this means broadcast has a “smaller, more loyal base.”

Similarly many cable TV networks also have witnessed slightly higher “length of tune” among viewers.

USA Network is the highest among 16 networks, now at 33 minutes; Fox News Channel and HGTV are each at 31 minutes. At the low end regional sports networks, ESPN, and ESPN2 are at 19 minutes, 17 minutes and 13 minutes respectively.

4 comments about "Cable TV Network, Broadcast Reach Sinks To New Lows In Q3".
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  1. Ed Papazian from Media Dynamics Inc, October 12, 2022 at 11:58 a.m.

    Interesting stats, Wayne. Question: are these weekly reach figures and for all dayparts?

  2. William Chambers from a4 Advertising replied, October 12, 2022 at 2:59 p.m.

    Great questions as always Mr. Papazian.  Do we know what the source is?  Nielsen, Comscore, "other"?

  3. Debbie Coffee from WHTM-TV, October 12, 2022 at 3:29 p.m.

    Top 16 Cable= 17.5% reach
    5 Broadcast Nets= 44%

  4. Ed Papazian from Media Dynamics Inc, October 12, 2022 at 3:40 p.m.

    Debbie, these are probably average week reach figures per channel not for all of the channels combined. So, of course, any individual cable channel---even the leader--- will not attain the same reach as an average broadcast network which draws viewers not only from "pay TV" subscribers but also from those who get access via over-the-air reception---something that cable doesn't have. As a matter of fact that 15% of TV homes that gets OTA reception probably accounts for 25-35% of the reach of an average broadcast network---or station.

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