An analysis of Nielsen Media Research fourth-quarter ratings data by the Television Bureau of Advertising (TVB) shows that the primary basic cable networks are beginning to cannibalize one another’s audiences rather than steal audience outright from the four established over-the-air broadcast networks.
The report, released by TVB following a meeting of its board of directors at the NATPE convention in New Orleans, showed a collective broadcast network ratings drop from 39.7 to 37.9, or 1.8 rating points, from fourth quarter ’95 to fourth quarter ’96.
Of that loss, TVB reports, 0.6 did not go to cable but was instead picked up by UPN and the WB. The remaining 1.2 drop was absorbed by some of the existing and new cable webs.
In fact, the established cable networks lost ground in primetime vs. a year ago. The top 10 basic cablers experienced a collective plunge of 0.6 in total households for fourth quarter ’96 vs. a year ago. Only TNT, Nick and A&E posted increases.