Ratings Slide Continues

Broadcast networks down; C3 numbers a bit better

Viewers may be consuming more content overall, but live ratings and the commercial ratings that form the currency of the business continue to fall at the broadcast networks.

Live viewing at the Big Six networks was down on average 7%-10% in key demos through mid-January, while C3 numbers were down 5%-8%, says Los Angeles ad agency RPA.

While broadcast viewership was under siege before last year's writers' strike, RPA notes this year's numbers were hurt by fewer new shows, shows that wouldn't have normally returned and the historic election cycle, which sent many viewers to cable news.

In the 18-49 demographic, combined live viewing was down 10%, while the C3 numbers were down 8%. In total viewers, live viewing was off 7%, while C3 was down 5%.

The report had some good news for broadcasters, with viewing of commercials in the C3 metric tracking ahead of live viewing. Some viewers who record shows on DVR may also watch commercials, which boosts the viewing figures and arguably provides advertisers with a more engaged customer.

The report reads, “There was a big positive to come out of the first-half ratings, and one that could augur well for the future. C3 viewing equaled or slightly surpassed live viewing, meaning not only a larger audience but an audience that data suggests is extremely engaged.”

In C3 ratings for the 18-49 demo, CBS had the smallest drop at 7%, followed by NBC and Fox down 10%, ABC down 14% and The CW down 20%. MyNetwork was the lone bright spot, up 50%.