TV Trends Sept. 2016: Viewing Stable to Up, Commercial Loads Rising -- Pivotal Research

Author: Brian Wieser   Source: MediaVillage

We have analyzed trends associated with the use of television alongside commercial share trends for national media owners in the United States through the end of the calendar month of September 2016 (covering the period running from September 1 to September 30 rather than the broadcast month, which ran from August 29 to September 25). Complete data including time-shifted viewing and commercial impression data for this period became available from Nielsen on Monday.

Notable observations described further below for the month of September or the full third quarter include the following:

Total use of television as we define it across all sources of content inputs was down by -0.3% on a total day basis for adults 18-49 during September, although up by +1.5% among all households.

Viewing via internet-connected devices rose by +64% year-over-year to account for 8.3% of total TV use among adults 18-49 on a total day basis.

Total programming hours captured by Nielsen rose by +1.3% year over year during the month and +0.8% during the quarter. During the month there were 920 billion commercial impressions among adults 18-49 included in C3 ratings (which excludes much content consumed through internet-connected devices) across all people, up +3.0% year-over-year, driven by rising commercial loads. C3 impressions were up +3.2% for the quarter for adults 18-49.

Much of the increase in C3 impressions was due to rising commercial loads across the industry, which were relatively broad-based (if more significant for AMC during the month and quarter, and for Discovery during the quarter). Total commercial loads rose to 10.9 minutes per hour across all Nielsen-tracked programming during September 2016, up from 10.7 minutes per hour in September 2015 and 10.5 minutes per hour in September 2014.

Comcast’s NBC Universal produced the largest share of C3 commercial impressions during September with a 15.1% adults 18-49 share among national media owners, stable with the year-ago period on stable commercial ad loads. On a comparable basis, Viacom fell from 16.0% to 14.9%, Time Warner was stable at 11.6%, Disney was down slightly from 11.4% to 11.3% last year. Fox was similarly down, from 8.4% to 8.3%, while CBS was up slightly from 6.2% to 6.3%. Discovery was down from 6.5% to 6.2%. Scripps was up from 4.7% to 4.8%, and AMC was down from 2.8% to 2.7%.

For the quarter, NBCU was unsurprisingly the leader given the presence of the Olympics there, allowing the group to capture 16.9% of all C3 viewing in 3Q16 vs. 14.6% in the year ago period. Viacom was down from 17.2% to 16.0%, Time Warner was down from 12.4% to 12.2%, Disney was down from 9.0% to 8.5% and Fox was down from 7.6% to 7.5% Discovery fell from 7.2% to 6.7%, Scripps was stable at 5.2%, and AMC was down from 3.4% to 3.0%. CBS was down only slightly, from 5.0% to 4.8%.

We note that in the event CBS and Viacom were to combine, together they would have possessed a 20.9% share of commercial inventory during 3Q16, by far the industry’s leading position.

Total use of TV is important to monitor as it provides investors with a relative sense of the health of the medium. While this data is incomplete in the sense that it excludes viewing of content on non-TV-based devices, going beyond network-level ratings and looking at aggregated sources of viewing helps to better analyze the relative importance of the medium to consumers. Commercial share data is important to monitor as networks with more available inventory to sell should generally capture a greater share of advertising budgets.

Additional commentary and data covering share data for different types of TV consumption and commercial viewing shares for different network groups are included in the remainder of this note