Cable TV viewing declined by more than 12 percent in January

Looks like Netflix and other streaming services are starting to have an impact on traditional TV viewing: Total live TV ratings were down 12.7 percent year over year across the networks of major media companies, according to a note from Nomura Research, which is based on recent numbers from Nielsen. Nomura analyst Anthony DiClemente wrote that this was “one of the worst declines we have seen since we launched coverage of these companies.”

So why is live TV struggling? DiClemente pointed the finger at streaming services as the reason for the decline: “Netflix, Amazon Instant Video, and Hulu, continue to siphon viewers away from linear TV,” he concluded.

There are some differences between individual networks, which in turn weigh on media companies’ bottom lines. January was a particularly bad month for Viacom, which saw ratings decline by 23 percent when compared to January 2014, with declines largely driven by MTV and Nickelodeon. Disney on the other hand only faced ratings declines of 7.5 percent, thanks in part to great ratings for ESPN.

Numbers like these run counter to the notion that online video viewing is additive to traditional TV consumption. That may have been true when people only streamed 15 minutes a day, but recent numbers from Netflix show that its subscribers watch an average of 90 minutes of Netflix programming every day.

The new king of TV ratings: Twitter

Twitter is now a two-way street for NBC: a platform for syndicating content, and a platform for driving eyeballs back to the network.


Binge viewing via DVR is another example of how consumers are increasingly able to piece together their own a la carte, on-demand, TV Everywhere experience using commercially available technology that is pushing — so far successfully — at the legal limits of permissible fair use.

Netflix on target with originals

In their first-quarter letter to shareholders, Hastings and CFO David Wells hint that Netflix has developed something of a secret formula for producing hits that it will not be sharing with the rest of the industry.

Valuing ‘House of Cards’

Presumably, Netflix has some internal metrics for gauging the return on its investment in House of Cards and other original series, but chances are it doesn’t look like a standard TV series P&L.

Today in Connected Consumer

As I noted in this week’s Weekly Update, the carriage dispute between Viacom and DirecTV that has led to 17 Viacom-owned networks being dropped by the sat-caster is ricocheting throughout the pay-TV industry. Last week, Cox Communications offered an unusual show of support for DirecTV, putting out a statement calling the dispute “a reflection of an unbalanced multichannel video business model,” that needs to be addressed systemically. Now, Time Warner Cable has chimed in, saying “Consumers are tired of these disputes and so are we.” The Wall Street Journal reports this morning that other pay-TV operators are for the most part refraining from trying to take advantage of DirecTV’s weakness to poach subscribers, a break from past industry practice. Even one of Viacom’s biggest stars, Jon Stewart, ripped the company in his Daily Show monologue on Monday, which led to Viacom quietly restoring full episodes of the Daily Show and The Colbert Report to the web. The dispute is causing pain on both sides. While DirecTV has lost some subscribers, Viacom’s networks have suffered horrendous ratings losses since DirecTV’s 20 million subscribers got blacked out. Peace talks continue but the sides apparently remain far apart.

Conan O’Brien still rules the Internet

Conan O’Brien may not have the best ratings on late night television, but his followers are tweeting and updating their Facebook statuses more than the audience of any other late night talker. Team CoCo even has four times as much online engagement as Jay Leno.