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Thursday, July 13, 2006

Lowest Week Ever for Prime-Time Broadcast TV Viewing

WIth few new shows on and plenty of other activities afoot, early July is historically the quietest time for TV viewing in the US. But this past July 3-9 set a precedent.

The four major broadcast TV networks (CBS, ABC, NBC, Fox) experienced their least-watch week in recorded history. Let me repeat: the networks had their least-watched week in the history of television ratings!

The networks had a combined average of 20.8 million viewers during prime time (one-fifteenth of the total US population). Only one show, NBC's new America's Got Talent, captured more than 10 million viewers. Meanwhile, cable and Spanish-language networks continue to post respectable numbers that are beginning to rival those of the "Big Four."

Is this an anomaly, or part of a long-term trend? Considering that the previous low record was set in July 2005, we may indeed be seeing a pattern emerging. What will be interesting to see is how well ratings rebound in the fall.

This news was cited by Chris Anderson's Long Tail blog, which also notes that the movie industry is experiencing similar long-term struggles, despite recent mega-hits like Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest.

UPDATE: Jeff Jarvis suspects a connection between declining TV ratings and the fact that YouTube is now serving 100 million videos a day.

Source: AP (via Yahoo Asia)