There’s a growing gulf in cable TV between “live” programming like news and sports, and “non-live” programming like scripted dramas, according to a new report from industry analyst Michael Nathanson, pointed to by Broadcasting & Cable.
Nathanson looked at the first quarter of this year for the top 20 networks, and it’s bad news for shows where “live” isn’t a core component.
Here’s a summary of how each type of programming fared:
- News: Up 22% year-over-year. This isn’t surprising given the interest in President Trump and the US political system right now. Fox News and CNN were up 25% and 15% respectively.
- Sports: Up 6% year-over-year. That doesn’t mean all sports have seen gains, however. This season, NFL ratings were down 9% in total, and down 6% for the playoffs, according to a previous MoffettNathanson report. The Olympics also got hammered with a big ratings dip, compared to the last games.
- Original entertainment: Down 15% year-over-year. Nathanson said the “glut of new series,” coupled with increasing on-demand options, is leading to some “unhealthy trends.” He noted that the era of “peak TV,” which saw 455 scripted shows get made in 2016, might be coming to an end.
- Syndicated shows (re-runs): Down 20% year-over-year. Again, this could be a case of increased competition from on-demand options. There are many, many old shows to binge-watch on Netflix if that’s the mood you’re in. “In a world of increasingly on-demand opportunities (SVOD, VOD, DVR, OTT), linear networks running a steady diet of old films and syndication scare us,” Nathanson said.
The takeaway: People aren’t watching as much programming on TV that they can easily get elsewhere.
That makes intuitive sense, but the real fear for cable TV should be that younger generations might sour to the whole idea of live TV in general. A recent survey found that US teens spent, on average, 34% of their video time watching YouTube, 27% watching Netflix, and 14% watching live TV. And Piper Jaffray recently found that 55% of US teens didn’t see the need for a cable or satellite TV subscription, up from 32% in 2012.