Summer 2012 primetime TV impressions were up for broadcast networks, but down in ad-supported cable, reports TVB [download page], citing Nielsen data. For broadcast networks, summer primetime impressions were up 5.2% year-over-year in all households (HH), up 5.3% in households of 2 or more people (P2+), and up 3.3% among viewers aged 25-54. Conversely, primetime impressions on ad-supported cable were down 2.6% across all households, 5.9% in households of 2+ people and 3.8% among viewers 25-54. The report acknowledges that the Summer Olympics Games on NBC was a significant factor in the summer impression increases, but argues that broadcast networks have also shown steadier results in the regular season than cable.
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, aÂ 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.