Friday, September 25, 2015

Now That Nielsen Can Actually Be Bothered To Track Internet Video, The Numbers For Traditional TV Are Getting Ugly

from the viva-la-revolucion dept

For years, we've noted how popular TV ratings firm Nielsen has turned a bit of a blind eye to cord cutting and the Internet video revolution, on one hand declaring that the idea of cord cutting was "pure fiction," while on the other hand admitting it wasn't actually bothering to track TV viewing on mobile devices. It's not surprising; Nielsen's bread and butter is paid for by traditional cable executives, and really -- who wants to take the time to pull all those collective heads of out of the sand to inform them that their precious pay TV cash cow is dying?

Now that Nielsen has decided to join us in 2015 and start tracking streaming service and mobile device viewing, the numbers, shockingly, aren't looking all that hot. Nielsen's latest analysis shows a number of things, most notably a decline in pay TV subscribers but a sharp uptick in users who are only subscribing to broadband:
"According to Nielsen’s second-quarter Total Audience report, the number of homes with pay-TV subscriptions—a crucial number for the industry—is down 1.2% to 100.4 million from 101.6 million a year ago. The number of broadband only homes rose 52% to 3.3 million from 2.2 million...Meanwhile, the share of homes with subscription video on demand rose 18% to 45% in the second quarter of 2015 from 38% in the second quarter a year ago. The number of homes with enabled smart TVs rose to 18% from 11%."
So, yeah. Traditional TV is slowly and surely dying. While Nielsen helped prop up the industry belief that cord cutting was over-hyped, other tracking firms were busy pointing out that not only were cable TV providers slowly hemorrhaging subscribers each quarter, but the number of new pay TV subscriptions weren't scaling in line with new home ownership growth like they used to.

And that's before you even get to traditional broadcast numbers. Data had already shown a sharp downtick in viewership for traditional cable channels, starting with children's programming and now even impacting the supposedly untouchable ESPN. Nielsen's latest traditional ratings data also shows that TV viewership ratings continue to drop, with fall's TV premiere season landing with a thud for every major show without Kermit the frog in it:
"According to Nielsen fast national data, every returning Tuesday night drama suffered double-digit ratings declines, while the three new series were a mixed bag. Leading off the night at 8 p.m., ABC's reboot of "The Muppets" put up decent numbers, averaging 8.91 million viewers and a 2.8 among adults 18-to-49, making it the night's No. 2 rated show behind "The Voice."..Networks have always banked on Premiere Week as an interval of peak sampling, but Tuesday night's PUT (or people using television) levels were discouraging. The number of adults 18-to-49 watching primep-time programming dropped 8% versus the year-ago period and overall usage in the demograhic for the last two nights is down 10%.
Gosh, it's almost like viewers are headed to a fictional land where they have more control over what they view for much less money? It gets worse: TV viewing among adults 18-to-24 dropped 20% from last year, and male usage in that holy-grail demographic has wilted by roughly 24%. Again, cable and broadcast executives (and if you're Comcast NBC Universal, that's one and the same) could stop all of this right now if they were willing to offer more flexible channel lineups and compete on price, but they've grown too fat and comfortable to notice the storm clouds gathering on the horizon.

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