Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Network Audience Keeps Eroding

Broadcast viewership is down. And even when you count delayed viewing via DVR, the total number is still down. Less people are watching network TV. So what does it mean and is it problematic. Perhaps not.

It does not infer that people are turning off their TV sets to, god forbid, read a book. (I'm kidding) But there may be a number of reasons why broadcast viewing is down.

1. Cable networks - more choices and not just reruns. Original series are airing on cable and getting Emmys. TBS is airing baseball playoffs. ESPN has Monday Night Football. And cable content has been regarded as a higher quality to its broadcast counterpart.

2. Writers strike - when shows premiering this year are reworkings of old shows (aka Knight Rider), its hard to say that quality shows are coming to broadcast television. The quantity of new shows this year is way down and cable offers more fresh alternatives.

3. Internet viewing - the numbers are still small compared to total TV viewing and most content is still short form. Most people may argue that internet viewing is additive and does not replace TV viewing.

4. DVDs - still popular and Netflix continues to offer a compelling service. DVD sales may be down but its number is still impactful.

5. VOD - still small but not necessarily being included in the DVR figure. Still it is a growing alternative to broadcast TV.

Once there were only a few broadcast networks and cable was repeat and unwatchable shows. But that was then. Today, the broadcast networks also own cable networks so they have more ways to reach the viewers. Broadcast viewing may be down, but I bet TV viewing, whether live, delayed, or on-demand, remains healthy and strong.