Linear TV Ratings Continue to Fall

And NBC’s Binge Release of ‘Aquarius’ Is a Winner

Ad-supported TV networks saw primetime C3 ratings among 18-49 year olds dip 9% in the second quarter, according to data from Nielsen.

Pay TV Network Ratings increase or decline (+/-)
ESPN -16%
Disney -12%
Viacom -8%
NBCUniversal -8%
Turner -8%
21st Century Fox -3%
AMC -2%
Discovery Communications -2%
Scripps Network Interactive -1%
——————————- —–
Broadcast Network Ratings increase or decline (+/-)
Fox -17%
NBC -14%
CBS -7%
ABC +10%

Here’s a quick look at ratings decreases:
Broadcast network ratings are down 4% overall.
ABC, miraculously, is up 10% in ratings, thanks to the NBA pro basketball finals.

These drops are part of a protracted downward trend for linear TV consumption among viewers. Networks will continue to experiment with new release models of their TV series in order to combat viewers’ growing lack of interest in appointment viewing.

NBC, for example, pioneered a hybrid release model this summer for its top series “Aquarius,” starring David Duchovny.

Duchovny Aquarius

NBC’s Aquarius: experimental hybrid release is confirming rating trends


NBC released the full first season of the show online – available only to pay TV subscribers and Hulu subscribers – and also aired a new episode of the season each week on its linear channel.

In a very unusual twist, the online version of the show was more gritty and dark than the version that aired on network TV.

The show’s linear TV ratings weren’t terribly impressive, but NBC has green-lit the show and its hybrid release for another season, which indicates the streaming audience was significant enough to NBC to merit another season.

“The network’s unique release strategy with ‘Aquarius’ has helped us gain new insights into viewership patterns, binging behavior and social engagement, significantly expanding our knowledge of how people are watching our shows online,” said Robert Hayes, EVP of NBC Entertainment Digital.

The show’s linear premiere drew 5.8 million viewers, but its audience grew by 91% in the seven days after its linear debut in adults 18-49, across all platforms, NBC said.

“It’s no secret that the way people watch television is evolving,” said Jennifer Salke, president of NBC Entertainment. “We took a unique approach…

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