TV Update: Sports & News Weekly Viewing Trends -- Pivotal Research

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In this note, we review weekly national TV viewing trends for both news and sports based upon live+same-day viewing data made available on Tuesday, covering the prior week. The two genres together accounted for 22% of all national TV viewing last year, and are the key programming genres for which this quickly available data is useful for purposes of analysis, certainly when compared with dramas and comedies (which are generally subject to more time shifting, and which require commercial viewing data - not available until after a longer time lag - to better assess relevant trends).

Trends related to news media properties for the week ending Sept. 17, the 38th week of the year, were positive yet again, with viewing up +5% across all news networks. For the year, viewing is still up a remarkable +11%. Year-to-date, MSNBC is still the fastest growing network of the three with year-over-year growth of +58%.

By contrast, sports viewing was down again, falling by -13% during the week, worse than last week as well as the year-to-date ex-Olympics trend of -6% (sports viewing year-to-date would be down -16% including Olympics weeks in both years). Notably, NFL football, which accounted for 52% of the week's sports viewing in terms of person-hours, was down by -16% year-over-year despite +4% more hours of program time vs last year, with the lowest level of same week viewing since 2010. These results will be likely viewed negatively in context of concerns about declining interest in football, although we note that last week's weather may have contributed to at least some of the year-over-year decline.

Additional details relevant to different sports and news programming as well as related media owners follow in this note.


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