Traditional TV Use Flat In Q1 — And It’ll Stay That Way, One Analyst Says

No disruption to see here folks, move along. A ratings analysis by Turner Networks and a report from Pivotal Research Group analyst Brian Wieser both said they aren’t seeing a dramatic shift from traditional linear TV and towards emerging digital channels.
According to Turner, total prime-time viewership of the big-four broadcast networks — ABC (NYSE: DIS), CBS (NYSE: CBS), Fox (NSDQ: NWS) and NBC (NSDQ: CMCSA) — has decreased in the first quarter of this year to date by only 1 percent compared to the first three months of 2011. Primetime viewership for ad-supported cable channels, meanwhile, was up about 1 percent.
Meanwhile, the major broadcasters have seen their primetime viewership actually increase by 2 percent so far in the 2011-12 “TV season,” that traditionally defined period extending from September to June. Cable networks are up 1 percent over that same period.
The average number of hours per week Americans spend in front of linear TV decreased slightly in the first quarter to 35.3 from 35.9 last year, according to Turner. But consumption was up from 33.9 hours per week five years ago. One other notable factoid from the Turner report: penetration of digital video recorders into U.S. homes has reached 46 percent.

Meanwhile, in his report, Wieser wrote that those involved in the established TV programming and distribution infrastructure “have nothing to worry about” from upstart web-streaming and cord-cutting ventures.
“While laptops and iPads are certainly pervasive in a large minority of homes, the nature of the devices (let alone their limited batteries) mean that consumption of video on these platforms is generally limited to ‘active’ viewing,” Wieser wrote. “Very few consumers will ever consume all of their TV in this active manner, and any new service will be hard-pressed to replace old ones in the near-term for much of the population.”