CBS Has Seen Minimal Ratings Effect From Time Warner Blackout

Big Brother host Julie Chen

Overall numbers unchanged, though 'Under the Dome' took a tumble in L.A.; 'Big Brother' flat

One week after Time Warner Cable blacked out its stations in three major markets, CBS is reporting a minimal bottom-line effect on its ratings.

Compared to the seven-day period during the week prior to the blackout, CBS was down only 0.2% in total viewers and was unchanged in adults 18-49, according to Nielsen data analyzed by CBS. The Eye was also up vs. the same week last summer, though it was up against NBC’s coverage of the Olympics a year ago at this time.

“Big Brother,” which because it airs three times a week is a good measuring stick, averaged the same 2.3 rating in adults 18-49 during the first week of the blackout as it did the prior week. It was similarly on par in total viewers (6.6 million vs. 6.7 million).

One show that did seem to be impacted, though, was top-rated summer original “Under the Dome.” The drama was down 7% week to week in adults 18-49 (2.6 on Aug. 4 during the blackout vs. a 2.8 on July 29), with much of that damage traceable to declines in Dallas (off 19% in adults 18-49, 3.0 vs. 3.7) and Los Angeles (off 58%, 0.8 vs. 1.9); ratings for the New York market were off just 5% (1.9 vs. 2.0).

The declines in the markets blacked out by Time Warner came even though other top 10 markets — Chicago, Philadelphia and Houston — were all up this past Monday vs. the one before the blackout started.

August is traditionally one of the lowest months of the year for ratings and advertising revenue, making the overall financial impact of the blackout negligible. Of course, that all changes in September, when CBS begins its coverage of the NFL regular season and launches its new fall lineup.

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