Where the real TV growth is: Down the dial
The Big Five plus Univision have all suffered ratings declines
October 26, 2016
Look at this fall’s adults 18-49 ratings, and you may assume that nothing on TV is seeing growth.
All of the Big Four networks have fallen by at least 0.2. Univision’s tumbled 25 percent. Even the CW, which inched up last season, is down a tenth.
That may lead you to think that nothing’s growing, but that’s not true. There are a handful of networks that are improving, but they’re a bit off many people’s radar.
The biggest success story is Telemundo. Long an afterthought behind Spanish-language rival Univision, this season for the first time ever the NBCUniversal channel has not just taken a lead on Univision, but it’s up a tenth from last season.
Telemundo is averaging a 0.7 adults 18-49 rating, according to Nielsen, and it’s also beating the CW. That means it is the No. 5 broadcast network.
Other growth networks: Bounce, Ion, Cozi TV, Grit and Escape
But others, too, have seen viewership growth this year. There’s Bounce TV, the network aimed at African-Americas, up 30,000 to 140,000 viewers in the demo. (These smaller digital broadcasters are measured in actual viewer numbers because their ratings are so low.)
General-entertainment network Ion has increased from 340,000 to 360,000.
Cozi TV, which airs nostalgia programming such as “Magnum P.I.” and “Charlie’s Angels,” is up 10,000, to 30,000. Grit (for men) and Escape (true crime) have gone from 0 viewers last year to 80,000 this year in the demo.
Why these notable gains at a time when the big networks are sliding?
It’s probably a combination of many things. For Telemundo, Univision’s decline has offered the perfect opportunity to step in with programming that’s more targeted to young Hispanics, a demo Univision’s Mexican-produced novelas have been failing to connect with.
For Bounce TV, an increase in production of original series, and the general dearth of TV programming targeting black viewers, has helped raise ratings.
Nostalgia may also be helping viewership. During times of tumult, such as a recession or an election, people seek out the TV equivalent of “comfort food,” such as multiple airings of “Law & Order” on Ion.
Distribution gains, too, play into some networks’ rise. Cozi, for instance, has increased its reach from 26 percent of TV households at launch in 2011 to more than 60 percent today.
And Grit and Escape, sister networks from Katz Broadcasting, weren’t Nielsen-measured until the past year.
In broadcast ratings for the week ended Oct. 23:
Among adults 18-49, NBC and CBS averaged a 2.0 rating and a 7 share each, followed by ABC at 1.3/5, Fox at 1.1/4, Telemundo and Univision at 0.6/2, CW at 0.5/2, ION at 0.3/1, UniMás, Me-TV, Bounce TV, Escape, Grit and Estrella TV at 0.1/o, and MundoMax, Azteca and Cozi TV at 0.0/0.
Top five English-language Big Five shows (18-49s): 1. NBC’s “Sunday Night Football” 6.0; 2. CBS’s “Thursday Night Football” 4.5; 3. CBS’s “The Big Bang Theory” 3.5; 4. NBC’s “Football Night in America” 3.1; 5. CBS’s “60 Minutes” 3.0.
Top five English-language Big Five shows (total viewers): 1. NBC’s “Sunday Night Football” 17.7 million; 2. CBS’s “60 Minutes” 15.99 million; 3. CBS’s “NCIS” 14.77 million; 4. CBS’s “Thursday Night Football” 14.2 million; 5. CBS’s “The Big Bang Theory” 14.2 million.
Show on the rise: NBC’s “Sunday Night Football,” Sunday, 8:15 p.m. The show rebounded from last week’s season low to a 6.0 in adults 18-49, an improvement of 1.1.
Show on the decline: Fox’s “The Simpsons,” Sunday, 8 p.m. The long-running cartoon lost half of last week’s rating for “Treehouse of Horror,” posting a 1.5 in the demo. The lack of NFL lead-in hurt too.
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