The C3 commercial ratings used to buy and sell advertising fell 13% among adults 18 to 49, according to an analysis of Nielsen data by Wall Street analyst Michael Nathanson of MoffettNathanson Research.
Cable ratings were down 11% and broadcast was down 16%, Nathanson said.
TV ratings got a boost in 2016 when Nielsen switched to a bigger sample size.
“Ratings declines in 2017 were even worse than we imagined, with seven of the past 11 months declining double digits,” Nathanson said in a report.
Nielsen and the networks do not release C3 figures.
21st Century Fox’s networks were the biggest decliners among cable channels. A+E Networks and Disney were the only cable network owners to post gains in primetime among 18-to-49 year-olds.
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Among individual cable networks in total-day C3 ratings, Nathanson said A&E was up a whopping 40% for the month. Also posting gains were Hallmark Channel, up 12%; History, up 9%; MSNBC, up 8%; and Freeform, up 7%. Viacom’s MTV was flat.
The biggest decliner was Fox News Channel, followed by Viacom’s Nick at Nite. It's worth noting that Fox News uses live-plus-same-day ratings as it primary ad sales metric. The network recently noted that it has had its highest rated year in its history on a total-day basis.
The declines by the broadcast networks came against the backdrop of the presidential election a year ago, which brought viewers to their sets. Fox, which had a huge World Series finale a year ago, was the biggest decliner.
”Given the challenged ratings trends we have seen and expect to continue, we remain cautious on the TV advertising market’s ability to grow dollars by offsetting these declines with higher CPM inflation,” Nathanson said.
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