Television viewing as measured by the C3 ratings, used to negotiate advertising deals, was down 7% in October for both primetime and total day.
Broadcast prime was down 8% among adults 18 to 49. Cable prime was off 6%, according to Nielsen data analyzed by Michael Nathanson of MoffettNathanson Research.
Since October is the first month of the new season, and there were big declines a year ago, the big picture is a bit gloomy. But Nathanson sees a few shoots of sunlight, particularly among younger viewers.
The declines are also better than they were in September, when ratings were down double digits for both broadcast and cable.
Among the broadcasters, NBC did best as football powered the peacock to a 2% pickup. Fox was down 23%, mainly because this year’s World Series wound up in Nielsen’s version of November this year. A year ago, the games fell in October.
In cabletown, AMC, with Fear the Walking Dead, was up 2%, despite a fall off by The Walking Dead. Scripps Networks and Time Warner were flat, which has been the new up. A+E Networks and 21st Century Fox registered double-digit dips in prime. The best performing networks for total day included TBS, Nick at Night, ID and AMC. Viacom also got solidly positive performances from VH1 and Nickelodeon. But Viacom’s Comedy Central was the biggest decliner, followed by FX and USA.
Nathanson noted that the trend in people using television—PUTs—slowed its dive in October among the youngest viewers. Kids 2-11 was down 2%, helping Nick and Nick Jr. English language broadcast was down 9% in primetime among adults 18-49 and cable was down 3%.