C3 Ratings Down for Top Returning Broadcast Shows

Declines could impact ad revenue, analyst Nathanson says
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Some of TV’s top rated returning shows have been struggling at the start of the new season.

Looking at C3, the measure used for most ad buying and selling, the dozen highest rated returning primetime broadcast shows are down an average of 25%, according to an analysis by Michael Nathanson of MoffettNathanson Research.

Most of those shows are on Fox and ABC, with the biggest declines registered by Fox’s Gotham and Family Guy (down 49% and 48%, respectively) and ABC’s Once Upon a Time (off 40%), based on C3 ratings among adults 18 to 49 for the first two weeks of the season.

Lower ratings have been an important contributor to eroding advertising revenue for the broadcasters.

“Over the next five years, we believe that the broadcast plus retrains business will slow on the topline. We project broadcast network advertising declines in the 1% to 2% range, offset by retrans, which we estimate will grow in the mid-teens,” Nathanson said in a new report.

“Looming questions remain over the pace of pay TV sub declines and how fast ad budget are shifting away from linear TV. Both of these could negatively impact our current thinking for advertising and retrains, but also likely come with lower expense growth in the out year," he added. “Said another way, if we are too optimistic on advertising, the growth in retrans and any potential cost saving might not be enough to offset losses associated with the traditional broadcasting business.”

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