Ratings Free Fall For TV’s “Premiere Week”
Every September Premiere Week (when most of the network shows start their new seasons) is a closely watched barometer of how ratings will play out during the Fall season. Over the past five years the Big Four networks have watched their Premiere Week ratings steadily decline, as nightly TV viewership becomes less of a routine in our lives.
Then the week Sept 23-29, 2019 happened. In this year’s Premiere Week the Big Four saw a significant reduction of viewership, especially on the younger side of population. For A18-49 (a hugely important buying demo), the four networks combined for a 1.4 avg rating across the week. That means at any given moment during prime time of TV’s biggest week 98.6% of 18-49 yos were not watching ABC, CBS, NBC or Fox. (insert TV exec groan here)
So now you might be asking if 18-49 yos aren’t watching network TV than who is? The answer to that question looks a lot like an AARP ad. The medium age of viewers across the Big Four nets during Premiere Week was a staggering 58.8 – not a typo! And keep in mind those 59 yo TV viewers are just the average, with half the viewers older than that. CBS was the week’s eldest-skewing network, serving up a median age of 63.2 years across primetime, up from its year-ago 61.6, followed by NBC (59.2), ABC (58.5) and Fox (52.4). This isn’t exactly a strong demo spread for the networks to sell ads against.
Sadly, the trend of TV viewership getting smaller and grayer isn’t going to end in 2019. It’s a safe bet that I could rerun this same post a year from now with even worse numbers. Sad times for network TV, to be sure.