Broadcast Ratings Hammered In Q2, Even With DVRs Factored In: Analyst

“There is no way to sugarcoat this: broadcast has taken a beating,” Nomura Securities’ Michael Nathanson says this morning in his quarterly report on primetime TV viewing. He assesses the market the way most networks and advertisers do — folding in DVR views of a show up to three days after a live broadcast (known in the industry as C3). He finds that the major networks were down 9.4% among the target 18 to 49 year olds vs the same period last year while cable networks were only off 0.4%. It’s the second consecutive quarter of substantial declines for broadcasters. And it’s worrisome for them because many now want to count DVR eyeballs — even though lots of users skip over ads. Live viewing in the demographic has declined for 15 successive quarters; in Q2 it fell 15.2% for the broadcast networks and 4.3% for cable. Fox was hit hardest with C3 ratings -18.7% followed by NBC (-11.8%) and ABC (-9.7%). CBS, however, was up 8.4%. Over in cable, companies with meaningful increases in year-over-year C3 ratings were Disney (+25.8%) and Scripps Networks (+8.8%) — results were gloomier for AMC Networks (-8.2%), Viacom (-7.7%), and Time Warner (-6.6%). Still, Nathanson has some encouraging news for networks concerned that ad skipping will become a lot more commonplace as the number of DVR households grows from 40% now to 47% expected in 2015. New users don’t appear to be as fast on the trigger: The percentage of broadcast commercials skipped by DVR users dropped to 46.7% in the 2011/2012 season from 58.8% in 2007/2008. For cable, 50.4% of the ads were skipped this past season vs. 52.8% in 2007/2008.

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