November TV: Commercial Loads Expand

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Cover image for  article: November TV: Commercial Loads Expand

New data from Nielsen covering commercial TV viewing and live + 7 day viewing from all sources of television-related activity (although excluding most viewing through PCs, tablets and mobile handsets) through the end of the calendar month ending November 30 was released this week. We believe assessing viewing data on a calendar month basis is a preferable way for investors to assess viewing trends rather than using a broadcast month basis, which can last four or five weeks and which will not generally conform to public companies’ reporting schedules.

Key highlights from our analysis of TV viewing data during the calendar month of November 2015 follow:

• During the calendar month of November, on a total day L7 basis, viewing through television sets was down by -1.5% across all people ages 2-99 and down by -3.0% across people ages 18-49 (see Table 1 on the linked spreadsheet). Younger audiences aged 2-17, who account for around 15% of total viewing, drove the bulk of declines with much more dramatic fall-offs in their viewing – the worse since January of this year – with a -8.5% decline. This compared with a -1.8% decline during October. Networks owned by Disney and Viacom, which account for nearly a third of viewing for this group, faced declines of -16.8% and -9.8%, respectively last month.

• Consumption on TV sets not assigned to specific network content accounted for 23% of viewing in the month, up by 1% year-over-year. Among this grouping of viewing, Internet-connected devices once again saw a significant gain in TV consumption, nearly doubling year over year to account for 3.3% of total TV consumption. Also included in this grouping of viewing, video game consoles – on which OTT service-based video consumption will also occur – accounted for 5.4% of total TV consumption, up slightly over the year-ago period.

• In terms of national media ad inventory – which includes national broadcast, cable and syndication – commercial loads increased slightly, with 19.5% of total programming minutes on a total day basis was comprised of advertising in November 2015 vs. 19.3% during November 2014. We note a more significant gain was observed in October 2015 vs. October 2014. Looking solely at prime time, commercials accounted for 19.8% of programming in November 2015, vs. 19.7% during November 2014.

• Looking at shares of commercial impressions available for sale – which we think is ultimately the most important driver of revenue share for networks given the limited near-term impact that changes in ratings will have on total market demand – on an adults 18-49 C7 basis, broadcast networks produced 25.9% of impressions in November 2015 vs. 26.4% in November 2014. Cable commercial impressions took a 69.8% share on a full day basis during November, vs. 69.4% during November 2014. Meanwhile, during prime time, broadcast’s share rose from 37.7% to 38.8% and cable’s share fell from 59.2% to 57.7%, while syndication increased from 3.1% to 3.5%. All else equal, this means that during prime time, broadcast networks had a nearly 3% tailwind to growth in November while cable networks had a -2% headwind to growth.


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