Studies

by Karl Bode


Filed Under:
internet, tv, video

Companies:
nielsen



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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  • icon
    Ninja (profile), 25 Sep 2015 @ 6:13am

    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

    I'd say they are actually moving to address this problem. It's just that it isn't in the way you (and pretty much anyone not linked to the industry) are proposing. They are trying via bought/imposed laws and treaties. So we will see blood before we get better services. It has been this way in the past, it will be this way in the future.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Designerfx (profile), 25 Sep 2015 @ 6:41am

      Re:

      That sounds nice if it actually were something that worked.

      In reality, adding new laws won't fix their problems. Even if they ban streaming services entirely new services will immediately prop up to get around the laws.

      So, too little too late.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        Not an Electronic Rodent (profile), 25 Sep 2015 @ 6:54am

        Re: Re:

        In reality, adding new laws won't fix their problems.
        Of course it won't... but they'll make everyone's life (probably including their own) miserable while they try.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Harold K, 25 Sep 2015 @ 6:35am

    It was Thrusday night, last night. I forgot about Thrusday Night Football. Forgot about it being premire week. I played video games and read a book until I fell asleep.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 25 Sep 2015 @ 6:52am

      Re:

      I didn't forget. I turned on my TV hooked up to my $10 antenna and watched a far better HD signal of the game than cable offers, for free.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        kallethen, 25 Sep 2015 @ 7:12am

        Re: Re:

        Sadly, because of the mountains I live near, I don't get much good reception of any local TV except for one or two channels. Sooooo wish I could.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 25 Sep 2015 @ 7:16am

          Re: Re: Re:

          Ahhh, that sucks. I live very close to a major city, so I get all the basic channels with no problem and supplement that with streaming/downloading of content. Haven't needed cable for many, many years now.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 25 Sep 2015 @ 7:27am

          Re: Re: Re:

          Shouldn't it be the job of these companies to provide quality signal everywhere? They don't own the airwaves, they rent it from the people of the nation they work in.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • identicon
            Anonymous Coward, 25 Sep 2015 @ 10:23am

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            Corporations, and especially media corporations, own things that they rent out to people for a limited time when there is a profit to be made.

            /sarc

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • identicon
            Anonymous Coward, 25 Sep 2015 @ 12:17pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            If they don't provide adequate signal to some location perhaps it should be law that anyone else can then use the signal spectra in that location freely. It's such a waste that they would restrict public usage of spectra in a location that they're not even using it in. Their very monopoly on public spectra itself is very very questionable.

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      PRMan, 25 Sep 2015 @ 7:53am

      Re:

      You probably meant NFL, but Cincinnati @ Memphis turned out to be a really great game. I had it on in the background on ESPN.

      But I totally haven't paid any attention to Premiere Week. Nothing caught my interest except Supergirl, which hasn't started yet.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    PaulT (profile), 25 Sep 2015 @ 6:44am

    This sort of thing does make me wonder what the TV landscape would have looked like if they were getting accurate figures - especially with regard to programming. I can imagine a snowball effect where people are dropping off because the shows they like get cancelled and replaced with talent/reality shows, etc., then those people who stuck around get tired of the next round of changes and jump ship, and so on.

    If they're directly catering to a demographic that's not the one that uses their products in reality, they're going to have made moves that encourage their customers to leave. I wonder if there's any way historical data can be gathered, and then applied to see how badly off they were when making programming decisions.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Unanimous Cow Herd, 26 Sep 2015 @ 11:22am

      Re:

      I stopped watching SciFy after Stargate SG-1 finally left. It was the one thing keeping me watching after they canceled Farscape (idiot move). A few years later, we canceled our satellite subscription in lieu of Netflix. Now, we have multiple free and paid streaming services that offer the content we want that is often commercial free. CWF&GTARTBFTW

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Tim K (profile), 25 Sep 2015 @ 7:10am

    I have cable TV, but only basic, and only because it was cheaper to get the faster U-Verse internet with the basic TV, instead of just internet

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 25 Sep 2015 @ 7:12am

    ESPN made itself more vulnerable

    Try watching or reading ESPN for a few mins. They spend the vast majority of the time they're not broadcasting live sports with talking heads screaming at each other (instead of showing highlights or actually reporting what's going on), talking about what Lebron tweeted about something which happened in sports (instead of getting a former coach/player or an expert analyst's take on things).

    Sportscenter is a joke compared to what it used to be.

    They've driven away/let go/failed to resign a large chunk of their talent. They may not like it, but people tune in/read for individuals. As talent leaves, eyeballs and clicks go with them. Just wait and see how big Bill Simmons' new thing on HBO is as that starts to ramp up, and then probably an even bigger loss to "the worldwide leader."

    ESPN.com's redesign made it completely unusable and is filled with stories like http://espn.go.com/video/clip?id=13663527 and celebs with a tiny relationship to sports in hopes to drive traffic of people who care about that garbage. It hasn't. All it has done is drive away folks who just want sports news to find other sources.

    If they lose their live sports exclusives, they're pretty much done.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    That One Guy (profile), 25 Sep 2015 @ 7:15am

    Mole-hill hiding a mountain?

    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

    While 1.2% doesn't really seem that big, I can't help but wonder how much larger that would be if the cable companies unbundled tv from internet. How many people only have pay-tv because it's cheaper to have that and internet, rather than just internet on it's own?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 25 Sep 2015 @ 7:20am

      Re: Mole-hill hiding a mountain?

      All the youngsters I know don't even watch TV. They spend their time either playing games, watching others playing games on YouTube, Twitch, or binge watching their favorite shows/movies on Netflix/Amazon/Torrent

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 25 Sep 2015 @ 8:10am

        Re: Re: Mole-hill hiding a mountain?

        You described my 13 and 15 year old kids perfectly.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        Max (profile), 25 Sep 2015 @ 4:17pm

        Re: Re: Mole-hill hiding a mountain?

        You mean as opposed to watching only what is on, when it's on, in bite-sized weekly increments peppered with stupid cliffhangers...? Because that's the only "advantage" TV offers. Gee, I wonder what's not to like...?!?

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 25 Sep 2015 @ 7:16am

    I don't get it?

    "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?"

    So lets say you're a TV executive, pray tell, why would you want people to literally lie to your face and tell you that things are looking great, when your business is slowly dying? I get that most of the executives are old, but how stupid are they that they believe people around them telling them they're getting younger by the day?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 25 Sep 2015 @ 7:20am

      Re: I don't get it?

      Because as long as they have metrics to say everything is good, it doesn't matter if everything is on fire, they'll keep getting their bonuses equal to the annual salaries of 3/4 of their entire organization combined.

      Also, as you said, they're older. This process is going to take a while to really happen. They can keep on sailing the same course for several more years, keep collecting, and by the time it comes out that they're incompetent, they can retire.

      And finally, no one gets fired for doing the same thing that always worked. People get fired when they try something new and it fails.

      Welcome to corporate america.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 25 Sep 2015 @ 7:25am

        Re: Re: I don't get it?

        Well then, no wonder Corporate America is so deadly afraid of Government Bureaucracy, they hate the competition of "The Most Incompetent System Mankind can achieve"

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          PaulT (profile), 25 Sep 2015 @ 7:37am

          Re: Re: Re: I don't get it?

          I love the fact that some people always have to turn this into an attack on the government, even though it's the incompetence of the private sector under discussion.

          By the way, they don't hate the government. They maintain the artificial monopolies that have allowed them to continue this way for so long. What they're afraid of is that the government might start regulating things in favour of the consumer instead of the corporation.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • identicon
            Anonymous Coward, 25 Sep 2015 @ 8:26am

            Re: Re: Re: Re: I don't get it?

            Yup, this. For them, the gov't isn't the enemy. It's just a line item. They throw just the right amount of money towards the right parts of gov't in the right ways and all their troubles go away.

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • icon
            vgiannell5 (profile), 25 Sep 2015 @ 11:44pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re: I don't get it?

            Well they better get used to it. They'll never make any money with the way their doing.

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • icon
            nasch (profile), 29 Sep 2015 @ 3:07pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re: I don't get it?

            By the way, they don't hate the government.

            He was making a joke.

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 25 Sep 2015 @ 7:26am

      Re: I don't get it?

      Large organisation always end up with a system that lies to itself, especially when promotion depends on making the boss happy, rather than telling them the truth.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 25 Sep 2015 @ 7:36am

        Re: Re: I don't get it?

        Just like the government does when it comes to the inflation rate. Did you know that the current standard for determining what it is is dramatically different from what was established? According to them, the cost of ground beef is equal to the cost of prime steak because people wouldn't be stupid enough to buy steak at how much it costs. They don't feel at all guilty of substituting values though.
        TL:DR The emperor is as naked as could be and no one is saying anything.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        hopponit (profile), 25 Sep 2015 @ 8:02am

        Re: Re: I don't get it?

        I remember an old saying that in "any organization a good individual is promoted to his level of incompetence and then stays there". Seems to apply here too!

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      PaulT (profile), 25 Sep 2015 @ 7:35am

      Re: I don't get it?

      "I get that most of the executives are old, but how stupid are they that they believe people around them telling them they're getting younger by the day?"

      They're not stupid, they're living in the world of the modern corporation where the only thing that matters is the next quarter. Planning 5 years ahead might upset investors, even if you recognise that severe changes are required.

      That they're old is kind of the point - they're thinking they'll either have retired or let go with a "golden parachute" before the ill effects truly manifest. Then, they can blame the next guy whose job it is to clear up the mess. Happens all the time.

      They're not blind, they're just not going to publicly admit the problems until after they've got their payoff.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 25 Sep 2015 @ 7:24am

    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,

    Price is only one factor in the drift away from TV and Cable. There is also the difference between scheduled programs and video on demand, with the latter fitting people lives much better, especially if they work shifts or irregular schedules, or want a social life that is not dominated by schedules.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      John Fenderson (profile), 25 Sep 2015 @ 8:44am

      Re:

      For me, price isn't a factor at all. The main reason I gave up on cable and broadcast TV was that I couldn't stand all the advertising anymore.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Daniel, 25 Sep 2015 @ 9:00am

        Re: Re:

        Exactly. Makes you think... what exactly are you paying for? It can't be the content, because the ads are supposed to cover that. So you're paying for the connection? Internet is cheaper, faster, more capable, and on-demand. Ads still exist but the premium services still let you stream without them for much cheaper than cable.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 25 Sep 2015 @ 11:30am

          Re: Re: Re:

          "Ads still exist but the premium services still let you stream without them for much cheaper than cable."

          Not the Likes of Hulu Plus.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • identicon
            Anonymous Coward, 25 Sep 2015 @ 11:42am

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            Surprisingly, Hulu just introduced a commercial-free option. 11.99 a month I believe. Not sure of the particulars, though (like does it include everything or not).

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

            • identicon
              Anonymous Coward, 25 Sep 2015 @ 12:37pm

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

              Probably only because they're tired of being known as 'Ad-laden lesser netflix'.

              reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

              • icon
                nasch (profile), 29 Sep 2015 @ 3:13pm

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                Probably only because they're tired of being known as 'Ad-laden lesser netflix'.

                Now they'll be known as "50% more expensive lesser Netflix". Yay progress?

                reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 25 Sep 2015 @ 7:51am

    But piracy!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 25 Sep 2015 @ 8:00am

    If a Republican wins the White House, it's a garuntee the FCC reclassification will be rolled back by a Congressional mandate and as such the cable monopolies will simply begin killing off the streaming competition while simultaneously making broadband only plans less appealing because of price, caps, restrictions. That is inevitable.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    hopponit (profile), 25 Sep 2015 @ 8:11am

    Neilson

    Stepping to the side a bit, I saw bad management and "me too'ism" from ESPN and Disney. A couple of years ago they bought the Speed Channel. It had a loyal following that was growing and focused on vehicles (not just NASCAR), where almost nobody else was. They bought it out, stripped almost all connection to cars, and put on MORE sports, namely ball games, just like everyone else. I figure they got a boost at first, but how have they held up since then? I know I almost never watch them anymore.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 25 Sep 2015 @ 8:25am

    > Nielsen's bread and butter is paid for by traditional cable executives

    Conspiracies are fun, but I don't think there's anything especially sinister going on.

    Nielsen collects data that they can sell. Primarily, that means tracking the number of people that see commercials. They don't try to track Netflix views or even HBO views because nobody wants to buy that data because there are no advertisers wondering how many people saw their ad. It's the same reason they don't track DVR views after 7 days - advertisers don't care.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 25 Sep 2015 @ 8:28am

    Who watches TV at the same time it's broadcast anymore? That's insane. Most people watch what they want, when they want. So a show premiered on Tuesday, there's a good chance most viewers won't get around to watch it until Saturday. Some are going to wait to binge watch multiple episodes.

    It really is hard to count the ways that the entire entertainment industry has shot themselves by insisting "the customer is always wrong" and attempting to legislate average behavior of average people.

    I don't know who watches reality / game shows but I doubt that's the demographic execs are vying for, yet without including delayed viewing, those are the only stats they will get. Good shows get canceled or never produced. There's multiple generations now that have been left behind and have found other forms of entertainment. That's the trend that will increase until legacy entertainment execs figure it out. Maybe they will?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    DigDug, 25 Sep 2015 @ 8:43am

    SEC Footsteps heard walking up to Big Media

    https://www.techdirt.com/articles/20150925/00504532358/ftc-finally-goes-after-roca-labs-sketchy-weig ht-loss-scheme-misleading-promotions.shtml#c76

    Meh - ended up posting under the wrong story.. rather than re-posting, I just linked the original.

    More Coffee please.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 25 Sep 2015 @ 12:14pm

    Gotta love how Techdirt reports a 1% change as "traditional tv is surely dying".

    What a joke of a website.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 25 Sep 2015 @ 12:39pm

      Re:

      When was the last time cable increased it subscriber base, 5 years ago, 10. A slow and steady downward trend over several years indicates that something is wrong.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 25 Sep 2015 @ 1:01pm

        Re: Re:

        Except it's not a downward trend, cable numbers are still at the top and so-called "cord cutters" are whining because they can't watch.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 25 Sep 2015 @ 1:14pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          The exact same thing happened with the newspaper industry for over a decade.

          People warned that the newspaper industry was dying and more people were ditching papers, and most young people were never signing up for a newspaper subscription.

          The newspaper industry kept saying their demise was rubbish, as they continued to make more money then ever.

          Then the economy started to head south, and the newspaper industry's collapse was both very swift and very hard. Newspapers began closing their doors and going bankrupt left and right almost overnight, even formerly big name ones.

          Today the newspaper industry is worth only a fraction of what it once was 15 years ago, and yet many newspapers still around continue to struggle (see the failed internet paywall attempts of many papers).

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • identicon
            Anonymous Coward, 26 Sep 2015 @ 10:13am

            Another recession or similar calamity could change consumer preferences in just a few months. I've a 75 y.o. Great Grandma here who's in a financial bind. Guess which $220+ bill is on the carving board? The premium channels have gone from need to want to be gone.

            I find it amusing, not at Her predicament (I'm kicking extra for my room now), but the cable/broadcast/Telcos! They've convinced themselves that, to borrow Maslow,they are essential goods rather than a want or luxury. Imperatives can radically change the economy within months if not faster. I'd argue faster with the multiple communication channels that route around 'official guidance.'

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      PaulT (profile), 26 Sep 2015 @ 2:42am

      Re:

      I love the fact you have no reading comprehension, but still can't help attacking this site fore what you think was written. Yes, the 1.2% figure is there, but there's more to it than the one figure your tiny brain comprehended.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 25 Sep 2015 @ 12:15pm

    Those aren't storm clouds, my friend. They're the leading edge of a major hurricane headed straight for the cable/broadcast TV folks. The next couple of years ought to be fun.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anon, 25 Sep 2015 @ 2:12pm

    The most sensation, inspirational, celebrational...

    If the saviour of TV this season is the new Muppet Show, then surely TV is dead. I watched the Muppet Show out of nostalgia and curiosity. Within about 5 minutes my wife (who's much younger, but still likes the muppets) started complaining "this is lame, can we turn it off?" I made her suffer through the entire 30 minutes (sorry, 22 minutes we fast-forwarded the comercials); it never improved. It was as if the show were written by a bunch of unfunny 5-year-olds or a committee of Hollywood execs. It was TERRIBLE. I may watch one or two more to see if it improves, but not high on my list.

    This is nothing new. Hollywood has been singularly lacking in new ideas or mature intelligent entertainment. The highlight of music for over a decade has been variations on an amateur talent show. Most recent failed movies spent too much effort on effects and nothing on story. Sports events are disappearing behind paywalls. Clever shows eventually show up on Netflix or Yooutube. Where's the appeal of real TV?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 25 Sep 2015 @ 6:16pm

      Re: The most sensation, inspirational, celebrational...

      Totally agree about the new Muppets show. Totally lame and destined for cancellation. I'm sure there will be a big drop in viewers next week.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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