Report: “Abysmal” October for US TV ratings

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October’s US ratings showed a massive drop in viewership, and the fall was much the same across broadcast and cable TV.

A report from analysts at MoffettNathanson (MN), using Nielson’s data, showed that October was an abysmal month for linear broadcast and cable ratings as Adult 18-49 viewership again declined by double digits.  Adding it all up, October P18-49 C3 viewership was down -11 per cent in primetime and -12 per cent in total day.  Broadcast declined -12 per cent in primetime and -10 per cent in total day while cable fell by -11 per cent in primetime and -13 per cent in total day.

Remarkable, cable didn’t do so badly. “Cable’s primetime decrease of -11 per cent was a +300 bps sequential improvement from September.  However, there was a relatively easy compare as last October 2017’s -10 per cent decline was the beginning of a tough winter for ratings. In fact, in 15 of the last 21 months, C3 P18-19 ratings have fallen by double digits,” said MN.

There were some ‘winners’. MN said: “For Broadcast, FOX led the group, up +21 per cent, thanks to Thursday Night Football.  On the other hand, CBS, who lost TNF this year, trailed the group, down -38 per cent.  ABC was down -18 per cent while NBC declined -13 per cent.  Neither of these networks can blame the absence of TNF as the reason for the steep fall.”

AMC Networks (+6 per cent) led the cable groups in primetime ratings, thanks to the timing of The Walking Dead’s return (see Exhibit 4) which shifted earlier by two weeks.  Disney was the only other cable portfolio to grow (+2 per cent), thanks to growth on Freeform and flat y/y viewership on ESPN.  Fox dropped -4 per cent while Discovery (-10 per cent), NBCU (-13 per cent), Viacom (-16 per cent), and Turner (-17 per cent) all declined by double-digits.


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