Variety Intelligence recently published Fading Ratings, featuring a useful series of charts that captures the downward audience trend over five-to-seven years of several portfolios of U.S. networks.
The starting points are 2014 or 2016. All screenshots were taken from the report.
- The context-setting chart highlights the rise of Netflix and the top subscription streamers.
- The SVOD’s may be leading the “steal” of viewers from legacy networks, but they are not alone:
- Not on the chart are advertiser-supporting AVOD’s led by Hulu
- Video-sharing services led by YouTube and TikTok
- Games and other video-based online entertainment platforms.
- The flagship History & A&E both lost around half of their viewers over seven years.
- The female-targeted Lifetime was more resilient.
HGTV, TLC and Food are all female-targeted, and they resisted the streaming tide more successfully than male-skewing flagship Discovey.
True Crime-themed ID initially bucked the trend, but lost viewers after 2018 as both copycat cab/sat channels (e.g., Oxygen) and streamers (Netflix, e.g., Amanda Knox) piled into the genre.
- True Crime famously “skews female but the men don’t leave the room.”
- Minor network Travel demonstrates the fungibility of channel brands by forging further into the paranormal (e.g., Haunted Brewery).
Disney / Nat Geo
- Nat Geo showed resilience, and Wild wasn’t included in the chart.
- WEtv, Sundance and BBC America all buy unscripted entertainment, and sustained their relatively modest audiences.
- The steep decline of AMC may be most revealing of how the streamers came to dominate scripted series, led by Netflix with its nearly $20 Bn 2022 spend on originals.
- The broadcast networks’s audience shows steep decline.
Next: More “Eat-Your-Own”
- The legacy broadcast and cab/sat networks are suffering further audience erosion as their owners go “all in” on their streaming services.
- The heavily promoted premieres of originals and hot series that have always sustained channel loyalty have been shifted to the parent company’s streamer.
- This “eat your own” strategy forms a vicious cycle that is compounding their decline.
- And the broader context of course is that cord-cutting reduces the available audience.
Don’t miss two insightful 2021 podcasts on with programming guru Dan Salerno:
- Channels & Streamers: How Animal Planet is adapting to the rise of discovery+
- discovery+ Report Card: 11 million subscribers. What does it mean?
And here again is the link to Variety Intelligence for more charts and analysis.