By Toni Fitzgerald
This summer people are watching more ad-supported cable than ever before.
A new study from Turner Networks, analyzing data from Nielsen, finds that the average viewer has watched 17.4 hours of cable per week from late May to early August, up from 17 last year and the biggest share ever for cable.
Broadcast, by contrast, fell to 6.2 after 6.8 last summer, when numbers were inflated by NBC’s highly rated coverage of the Summer Olympics.
Viewers spent an additional 9.4 hours per week on “other” television viewership, such as non-commercial cable networks like Disney Channel, Spanish-language TV and pay cable networks.
Total TV viewing per week was 33 hours, 30.2 of them consumed live, while 2.9 hours were on tape delay.
The report concludes that more than half of all TV viewing this summer was of cable networks, compared to just under one-fifth for broadcast.
Some of this is simply the natural progression that’s been seen over recent years. Cable has been adding more channels, giving people more choices, and it’s only natural that many people would flock to cable to see what is being offered.
Too, cable tends to air its big-buzz shows during summer, such as AMC’s “Breaking Bad,” A&E’s “Duck Dynasty” and TNT’s “Rizzoli and Isles,” while broadcast’s biggest-buzz shows are almost exclusively reserved for the regular season.
It’s not really a surprise that viewers, finding the fifth repeat of “NCIS” on broadcast that week, would switch over to cable to see what’s new.
What may be a surprise is just how much TV is still being watched live, at a time when DVR usage is getting a lot of buzz.
Ninety-two percent of all viewership this summer has been live, with just 8 percent of programs watched on tape delay.
That percentage should increase sharply come fall, when broadcasters begin airing their highly anticipated new and returning shows.