Report: Ratings Picture Not Pretty

Broadcast networks all down, C3 numbers outpace live viewing

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 CBS, Fox, NBC, My Network TV and The CW was down 7-10% through mid-January, while C3 numbers were down 5-8%, according to a report from Los Angeles based ad agency RPA

While broadcast viewership was under siege before last year’s writer’s 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.

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

So the report had some good news for broadcasters, with viewing of commercials in the C3 metric tracking ahead of live viewing. For instance, 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%.