May 20, 2014

CBS loves to say they are the most watched network. But that is about to end. A report in the Wall St. Journal explains that with help from “The Voice” and “The Blacklist,” NBC is up 18% among adults 18 to 49 and will finish first, according to Nielsen. CBS fell 17% in that demographic—11% excluding the impact of carrying last year’s Super Bowl. ABC is set to finish fourth in category and saw a 4% ratings decline. 

But as I have reported, the TV landscape is all about change. According to data from Nielsen, broadcasters’  share of prime-time viewers fell to 34% in 2013 from 64% in 1994 as cable viewing surged. The average prime-time audience across the four major broadcasters has shrunk to 9.8 million in this season through April 20 from 15.6 million people in 1995, Nielsen says. Netflix and cable networks have been able to lure top writers and stars by offering them calendar flexibility, creative freedom and more certainty that the shows they make will go on the air. 

But if you want to reach a mass audience, broadcast networks are still king. While cable channels tend to attract niche audiences, broadcast networks still draw a wider range of people. 

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