TVNewsCheck, a website that’s geared toward the broadcast community and is unabashedly pro-broadcast, recently published an article entitled “Broadcast Still Video’s Biggest, Best Platform.” The piece, which the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) included in one of their newsletters, pointed to specific arguments for why broadcast TV is king. (The Washington, D.C.-based NAB represents all the U.S. broadcast TV stations and over-the-air radio and TV networks.)
The first example is that of the recent ESPY (sports television) awards show. While TVNewsCheck editor Harry A. Jessell, recognized that (newly trangendered) Caitlyn Jenner’s presence (and award acceptance) helped drive ratings, he argued that the fact that the sports TV awards moved from ESPN to ABC-TV, is responsible for a household rating that was up 264 percent over last year.
“By moving the event to ABC, Disney [the parent company for ABC and ESPN] helped ABC and the event,” Jessell wrote.
“For all the talk of erosion, fragmentation and irrelevance,” he wrote, “the Big Four [ABC, CBS, FOX and NBC] remain at the pinnacle of the TV ziggurat.”
Another example he gives is America’s National Football League (NFL) Thursday Night Football. CBS paid a “hefty sum” to air eight NFL games that had originally been planned to air on its cable channel, the NFL Network. By moving to broadcast TV, “nearly five times as many adults 18-49 watched” the eight games.
And, Jessell wrote, “The dominance of broadcasting was more pronounced in markets where the home teams were playing… The difference in Pittsburgh was remarkable. The NFL Network posted a 1.4 while CBS’s KDKA did 15 times better with a 21.2”
See, Jessell wrote, “What makes broadcast networks special — a cut above the competition — is that, in league with their Owned and Operated and affiliated TV stations, [the broadcast networks] program every hour of every day as if it matters.”
One potential problem with Jessell’s argument is that his examples are both live TV. But, as he pointed out at the very end of the piece, “Ninety-three of the 100 most watched shows on TV during the 2014-2015 season were on broadcast.”
And, the Nieslen numbers (via TV By the Numbers) prove his case. For the second week of July, Live + 7 ratings for the show with the largest 18-49 ratings increase, FOX’s Wayward Pines, was 2.1 (for 18-49); by contrast, the cable show to see the largest L+7 increases for the 18-48 demographic, A+E’s Duck Dynasty, had a 1.5 rating.