ISO: Daytime Viewers – Network Challenges & Opportunities

April 23, 2012 | by aharris

Today, we’re happy to share with you a new guest post from our colleagues in Ad Sales, taking a critical look at daytime television viewership.

By Joe Piccirillo, Vice President of Ad Sales Research

Daytime viewing had been a staple of broadcast network television since the 1950s, as soap operas littered the schedule; however, daytime soaps have declined in number. Just two years ago, broadcasters aired seven soaps and, by the end of the 2011-12 season, only four will be left. It would have been three, but General Hospital just received a last minute reprieve from ABC. Over the past decade, as the popularity of soap operas faded, broadcasters have either given up the time slots to local television affiliates or have tried to replace them with reality, cooking or talk shows. ABC has been the most bullish, launching two new shows this season (The Chew and The Revolution), but it was recently announced that The Revolution has been cancelled and will air its last episode in July. ABC’s The View, which premiered in 1997, is the last successful original daytime series launched by a broadcaster that remains on air. NBC smartly expanded its popular, long-running morning news magazine, The Today Show, into daytime (M-F, 9-11am) to compensate for falling ratings. ABC, CBS and NBC are collectively down 10% in Women 18-49 this season versus last.

Syndicated talk and game shows, and off-net sitcoms and dramas have been pervasive for decades in local television. Oprah Winfrey’s exit from daytime television in September 2011 opened opportunities for existing talk shows like Ellen and newcomer Anderson, with CNN newsman Anderson Cooper. This has also spurred Hollywood studios to produce new talk shows for the fall of 2012 – by last count, five new entries, including Katie with TV news veteran, Katie Couric.

New Investigation Discovery LogoAd-supported cable, with a mix of off-net programming, movies and prime/late original program repeats, is down 6% in Women 18-49 this season compared to last season. The only group of cable networks that is experiencing collective growth in the 2011-12 season to date are the networks with distribution under 65 million homes (+28%, spanning 21 networks). However, this group represents only 5% of the total ad-supported cable pie. There are a few fully distributed ad-supported cable networks that are enjoying growth this season with Women 18-49. FX (+20% with off-network sitcoms and movies); Lifetime (+14% with off-network dramas, sitcoms and reality); Investigation Discovery (+66% with original prime encores and news magazines); and TLC (+7% with original prime encores) are among the most successful.

According to Nielsen, live daytime television usage is experiencing a decline in the 2011-12 season – down 3% among Women 18-49 from last season and down 6% from two seasons ago. A contributing factor to the decline in usage is the increase of DVR playback of recorded programs from another time period, in most instances Primetime. DVR playback occurring during daytime has grown 6% in Women 18-49 from last season and 17% from two seasons ago. The number of DVR households has grown 23% from two years ago and are now in 42% of U.S. TV households.

Another likely reason for the decline in live daytime viewing is the increase in video game console usage. While only accounting for 3% of overall usage, video game console usage is up 49% from two seasons ago. Although Nielsen is unable to confirm it, the belief is that women are using the consoles to access online content from many different services. For example, Microsoft’s Xbox LIVE offers access to online content from Netflix, Hulu and YouTube, and they will soon be adding HBO GO, Xfinity and MLB.TV. The additions bring the total number of music, television and movie services available on Xbox LIVE to 36. Of the 66 million Xbox 360s that have been sold worldwide, more than 20 million people are paying subscribers of Xbox LIVE and can access the console’s myriad of entertainment services.

Daytime Blog Post Chart

Confirmation of this behavior comes from a recent analysis of USA Touchpoints data from Media Behavior Institute, which found that 22% of women 18-49 watched video via DVR, DVD, VOD or streaming video, and 24% used their TV for something other than live viewing (51% watched live TV). The study also found that 18% used social networking sites during the daytime hours.

With overall viewing down, advertisers will most likely be faced with a smaller supply of female impressions in daytime for the remainder of the 2011-12 season and quite possibly for the 2012-13 season, as well. With broadcast networks’ current daytime fare in a state of flux and as they relinquish real estate, there are opportunities for strong female-skewing networks like Investigation Discovery, Lifetime and TLC to work with their advertising partners to create innovative ideas to effectively reach daytime viewers.