that TV viewership has taken a big hit because of other media competing
for viewers’ attention, especially the internet.
Too bad it's not true.
TV viewership is actually up over the past four
years, according to new research from Turner Broadcasting, and it’s been
climbing over the very same years that internet penetration has grown.
People may be using the internet more, but they’re also turning on their
watching more broadcast as well as more cable.
Indeed, while the
presumption has long been that broadcast is suffering at the
hands of cable, the reality is that they’re both doing well.
“People are watching more television than ever before,”
says Jack Wakshlag, chief research officer at Turner. He notes that while
his analysis focuses on a comparison of viewing this year to 2001, the
average amount of time people spend watching TV has steadily been
happening is that the total amount of television viewing keeps going up,
despite what other media types say or what people believe or what people
tell you when you ask them in a survey.”
In the just-concluded broadcast season
the networks halted audience erosion in the 18-49 demographic on a
season-to-season basis for the first time in as long as most people
can remember. Among households broadcast's share stayed the same
while cable rose.
According to Turner, the average person watched 30.7 hours of
television each week in second quarter through June 19, up 10 percent from
27.9 hours four years earlier.
Viewing in the highly sought-after 18-34 demographic in that
timeframe increased to 26.3 hours, up from 24.3 hours. Adults 35-49
watched 31.8 hours compared to 28.3 hours in second quarter 2001. Viewing
among people 50 years or older jumped to nearly 40 hours in an average
week, from 36.3 hours.
growing television audience, the networks this past season, on the
strength of programs such as ABC’s “Desperate Housewives,” CBS’s
“CSI” and Fox’s “American Idol,” lost a scant 264,000 primetime
viewers in the 18-49 demographic. That was essentially flat at down only 1
percent, compared to a 6 percent loss of 1.33 million viewers a season
At the same
time, cable TV’s 18-49 audience was up 1.2 million people over last
season. That came on top of an increase of 580,000 adults 18-49 the
attributes cable’s growth and the broadcast networks’ relatively good
performance to more and better programming to keep viewers tuning in.
because there are more choices, more options, more [television sets] and
people are simply turning on the television more than ever before,” he
says. “There has been an aggressive campaign to try to get advertisers
to move money away from television. Other media are claiming there are
losses. But the only data they’ve ever been able to show is that people
think they are watching less television, but we know they’re not.”
in the first three weeks since the regular broadcast season ended in late
May, cable TV has averaged about 60 percent share of the primetime
household audience, up from roughly 57 percent the same time last year.
The network share has slightly dipped to about 34 percent from nearly 35
cable TV is off to a strong summer because of original programs like
FX’s “The Shield” and TNT’s “The Closer.”
is an ongoing trend,” he says. “You have larger cable networks
investing the money they’ve been making in big-time original
programming. And there has been a pretty good batting average for cable
hits in the past few years.”