Digital Subchannels Outperform Cable Competitors, Report Finds

Digital subchannels outperform top cable brands in audience coverage and household ratings, according to a new report from Katz Media Group. The report found that as cord-cutting and cord-shaving drive down the the number of subscribers at most cable channels, the coverage gap widens between them and more widely available broadcast digital subchannels.

Katz found that the eight top networks available on digital subchannels — MeTV, Grit, Antenna TV, Laff, Escape, This TV, Bounce TV, and Create — were more widely available than leading cable channels such as Food Network, CNN, Discovery Channel, and TBS. The report also found that in Nielsen live-plus-seven household ratings, the top digital network, MeTV ranked 20th out of all cable and broadcast networks, ahead of cable channels such as A&E, FX, Lifetime, TLC, Bravo, and MTV.

“People consider [digital networks] a last-tier option for an advertising investment when, in fact, they’re performing at or above a level of cable networks that are consistently considered for investment,” says Stacey Schulman, executive VP of strategy and analytics for Katz Media Group.

The report, released Monday, also found that digital networks have seen their audiences grow at a time of relative stagnation for cable and broadcast. From May 2016 to May 2017, average Nielsen live-plus-seven household share grew 42% for digital networks. Over the same period, it grew only 2% for cable and declined 4% for broadcast.

Digital subchannels emerged following the conversion of broadcast TV from analog to digital transmission in 2009. Most subchannels are managed by local broadcast stations, and airtime on them is typically leased to digital networks. Many such networks draw audiences with schedules consisting primarily of library programming — such as MeTV, which focuses on classic series such as “Alf” and “The Andy Griffith Show” — sometimes geared toward particular genres.

More TV

  • THE BACHELOR - "2404" - Peter

    'The Bachelor' Recap: Alayah Benavidez Returns Amid Chase Rice Appearance

    SPOILER ALERT: Do not read if you have not yet watched the fourth episode of Season 24 of “The Bachelor.” After weeks of being cooped up in the Bachelor mansion, Peter Weber’s contestants were finally released to their first travel destination: Cleveland, Ohio. The first week’s one-on-one went to Victoria Fuller, and she and Weber [...]

  • Kobe Bryant Dead

    Kobe Bryant Was a TV Star With a Complex Media Legacy

    Mark Lazarus was an executive at Turner Broadcasting in the 1990s when the company was the NBA’s sole national cable-TV partner. As such, he had a front-row seat for the hand wringing that occurred when Michael Jordan abruptly left pro basketball in 1993. “There was a ratings hit,” says Lazarus, who became president of Turner [...]

  • Queen Latifah speaks at the Lifetime's

    ‘Equalizer’ Reboot Starring Queen Latifah Ordered to Pilot at CBS

    The “Equalizer” reboot in the works at CBS is taking the next big step. CBS has officially ordered the project, which has Queen Latifah attached to star, to pilot. The prospective show is described as a reimagining of the classic series in which Queen Latifah portrays an enigmatic figure who uses her extensive skills to [...]

  • Kobe Bryant's Death Mourned From Italy

    'Can This Really Be Your Last Post?': Kobe Bryant's Death Mourned From Italy to China

    NBA legend Kobe Bryant’s untimely death has had reverberations around the world, where fans from Italy to the Philippines have united in expressing their grief and honoring the late basketball player, who was one of the most global-facing athletes the league has ever produced. The coronavirus sweeping China momentarily relinquished its grasp on the nation [...]

  • Ray Romano guest stars "One Day

    TV News Roundup: 'One Day at a Time' Books Ray Romano

    In today’s TV news roundup, Ray Romano got a guest star gig on “One Day at a Time” and Freeform released the trailer for “The Thing About Harry.” FIRST LOOKS Freeform released a trailer for “The Thing About Harry,“ which premieres Feb. 15. The upcoming rom-com tells the story of high school enemies, “uber-jock” Harry [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content