The writers strike may be over but the pain it caused the networks–and especially broadcast TV–has only just begun. Broadcast ratings are down 20% so far in February, says Goldman Sachs. Goldman says ratings were down 16% in January.
CBS and ABC have been particularly crushed this year – down 29% and 26%, respectively, – while NBC and FOX have taken much milder hits – down 6% and 4%.
Wait a minute. Didn’t the networks report that they’d seen “no impact” from the strike during the last quarter? They did – but that’s because they were only talking about the end of 2007, when a lack of new shows didn’t matter, because the networks don’t normally run new shows then anyway.
But my mid-January, the networks began running patch-work schedules larded with “reality” shows(like “American Gladiator”, pictured right) and reruns from cable–and ratings dropped off accordingly.
So when do things get better for the networks (and the blameless viewers)? Not for a while. The studios are furiously back at work, but the first new episodes won’t hit until late March. And network TV – and network TV ratings – won’t really be back until the end of April.
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