Heading into upfront season, live, linear TV continues to suffer with viewership declines -- down between 14% and 20% per month, according to MoffettNathanson Research.
Cable TV networks, in particular, have seen significant viewership declines -- down 18% to 21% for each month -- November 2022 through February 2023 -- using the metric of Nielsen C3 ratings for viewers 18-49, the average commercial minute ratings plus three days of time-shifted viewing.
These declines have steepened compared to earlier in 2022, where there were 13% to 17% declines for the first three months.
Broadcast networks' viewership has been more stable on a month-to-month basis -- down 3% to 11% in recent months from September 2022 through January, much of this coming from support from NFL In February after the NFL season had ended (and even amid the airing of the Super Bowl airing) broadcast had a 14% drop.
MoffettNathanson analysis cautions that digital advertising growth that comes through advertising video-on-demand (AVOD) and connected TV advertising revenue may not be enough to offset linear TV’s downward pressure.
It calculates some downward pressure on AVOD revenue growth from a high of 50% (Q1 2022) and 20% (Q2 2022) to now just a 4.3% gain in the fourth quarter and a 3.7% increase in the nearly completed first-quarter 2023 period.
This analysis looks at “core” AVOD players: Pluto TV, Tubi, Hulu (including Hulu + Live TV), The Roku Channel, and Peacock.
It projects somewhat better results in the second half of the year, with national TV advertising sinking 5% (better than the 6% drop in the first half) and AVOD rising 13% in the last six months of 2023 (versus an 8% increase in the first half).
Wayne, MoffettNathanson is not saying that 18-49 viewing is down each month as that would mean that in five or six consecutive months it would fall to zero. More to the point, they are not referring to the entire linear TV audience but only to that segment of it which is seeing the largest reductions in usage. Just because many national and local TV time buys are based on adult-18-49 or 25-54 ratings this does not mean that the other viewers---the majority of the audience by the way---have no value or are considered worthless by advertisers. Instead, they---the "others"---who are usually older ----are taken for granted in the sense that you will get them anyway and in quite large numbers.