Broadcast and cable TV networks’ viewer reach continues to plummet over the last five years, according to analysis of Nielsen data by MoffettNathanson.
Cable TV networks in particular have been hard hit. Sixteen top cable TV networks are down to an average 17.5% reach of viewers two years and up in Q3 2022. In 2017, these networks averaged a 33% reach.
ESPN comes in at a high score of 24%, with USA, TBS and TNT each at 20%. Syfy, CNN and Food Network are at the low end, at 15%.
Although cable TV news channels have seen generally higher viewing vs. entertainment/reality TV channels, their reach has also declined — with Fox News Channel at the low end of 15% (24% in Q3 2017) and CNN at 15% (vs. 29%).
Broadcast networks have also been hit with a lower reach of around 44%, down from around 70% in 2017. ABC and Fox affiliates come in at 44%, with NBC at 47% and CBS at 43%.
At the same time, many channels have seen higher “length of tune” levels — the average duration of time that a viewer tunes to a network.
ABC is now at 34 minutes (32 minutes in 2017); Fox and NBC each at 32 minutes (both 30 minutes before); and CBS at 30 minutes (26 minutes previously). MoffettNathanson says this means broadcast has a “smaller, more loyal base.”
Similarly many cable TV networks also have witnessed slightly higher “length of tune” among viewers.
USA Network is the highest among 16 networks, now at 33 minutes; Fox News Channel and HGTV are each at 31 minutes. At the low end, RSNs, ESPN, and ESPN2 are at 19 minutes, 17 minutes and 13 minutes respectively.