Analyst: OTT Helps Boost TV Viewership

Over-the-top services helped drive television viewership up 1.2% in October, but those same consumers watched fewer commercials, according to a report by Pivotal Research Group senior analyst Brian Wieser.

In a report issued Tuesday, Wieser looked at the trends associated with television use and commercial share for national media owners in the U.S. for the calendar month of October (rather than the broadcast month, which ran from Sept. 26 to Oct. 30), using data from Nielsen that included time-shifted viewing and commercial impressions.

What Wieser found is that total TV usage was up by 1.2% on a total day basis for adults 18-49 during the month and rose 2% among all households. But commercial viewing by the same age group fell in the period by 1.4% on a total day basis and was down 2.4% in prime time.

Perhaps adding to the lower commercial views was that 65% more viewers watched via Internet-connected devices, accounting for 8.1% of total TV use among adults 18-49 on a total day basis.

Total programming hours were flat compared to last year during the month. And though total commercial impressions were up 2.6% (940 billion commercial impressions) among adults 18-49 included in C3 ratings (which excludes Internet-connected devices), it was driven mainly by higher commercial loads. National commercial loads across the industry rose to an average of 10.8 minutes per hour across all Nielsen-tracked programming in October, up from 10.5 minutes per hour in the prior year.

Also driving the viewership increases were an extra week of NFL Football in the month compared to last year and heavy viewing on news networks like CNN, Fox News and MSNBC due to the Presidential election.

Among networks, NBC Universal produced the largest share of C3 commercial impressions during the month, with 14.6% of adults 18-49 up from 14.5% in the prior year. Viacom fell from 14.3% to 13.8%, Time Warner was down from 11.8% to 11.2%, and Disney was down to 11.8% from 10.8% last year, according to Wieser. Fox was up from 9.3% to 11%, while CBS was down from 7.5% to 6.8%. Discovery was down from 6.0% to 5.8%. Scripps was up from 4.6% to 4.5%, and AMC was down from 3.9% to 3.3%.