First cable networks started taking viewers away from broadcast TV shows and now niche cable networks are starting to take ratings away from their big network rivals. "Analysts said niche players are benefiting at the expense of larger cable networks. After years of viewers fleeing broadcast for cable, the cable audience is now splitting into pieces." The top 20 networks are losing share to their smaller rivals. Will this trend continue? Well as audiences discover new shows, they will only continue to gravitate to them. The trend simply follows what initially cable did to broadcast. Choice begats an opportunity to change.
These smaller networks are benefiting because they are actually owned by their bigger "rivals". "Meanwhile, niche networks saw gains, including Style (up 68 percent), HLN (ahead 48 percent) and The Weather Channel (up 36 percent), thanks in part to Hurricane Irene." In truth, Style and Weather Channel are owned by NBCU (owner of USA, E!, and a ton more), and HLN by Turner (CNN, TNT, TBS). So despite where the audience goes, their ad sales team can still offer them placement. In fact, these smaller networks are being promoted across their bigger networks. Viewership may be moving around, but the owners of these cable networks are really the same players.