Indeed, the Nielsen data shows that while broadcast primetime viewing was down during the regular season (-1.6% HH; -3.5% P2+; -4% 25-54), ad-supported cable viewing suffered a bigger slowdown (-4%, -5.5%, -3.4%, respectively).
Time-Shifting Widens Broadcast Audience
Ad-supported cable original programming at its strongest does not generally outperform even broadcast’s time-shifted audience, according to the TVB report. For example, the Fall premiere of ABC’s “Modern Family” garnered 2.5 million same-day time-shifted impressions in the 25-54 demo, almost on par with the top cable show of the summer – “Hatfield & McCoys,” which had 2.8 million total viewers in that demo (see here for a sample summer rating for that show).
Indeed, a New York Times article from earlier this month argues that delayed viewing is changing the equation for a number of TV series. Looking at the Fall season’s first week, the article points out that NBC’s “Revolution” added 3.7 million viewers (representing an additional 41%) to its live total when factoring in 3 days of playback. The article cites an average audience gain of 26% in the all-important 18-49 category when counting in delayed viewing.
Broadcast Garnered 94% of Summer GRPs
Meanwhile, the TVB report indicates that summer might be ad-supported cable’s premiere season (e.g., with the return of “Breaking Bad” to AMC, History’s “Hatfields & McCoys”), but broadcast TV remained viewers’ dominant choice, accounting for 94% of Summer 2012’s gross-ratings points (GRPs) across the top 100 telecasts, and among viewers 25-54. Excluding sports (most especially the Summer Olympic Games), broadcast still accounted for 96% of GRPs. The Games on NBC took 18 of the summer’s 23 highest rated broadcasts, but could not by itself account for broadcast’s overall dominance.
About The Data: The TVB report is based on Nielsen Media Research data including Primetime Live + Same Day estimates, Primetime Live+SD and Primetime Daypart Live+SD.