Where Did the TV Audience Go?

 

shutterstock_173796380On this week’s GLoP Podcast, co-host John Podhoretz noted that last weekend’s Emmy Awards drew the worst ratings of all time. Despite the program being a well-run affair, the broadcast garnered less than 12 million viewers while the key 18-49 demo fell by 14 percent.

Fox foolishly ran the awards opposite “Sunday Night Football” in which my beloved Green Bay Packers trounced the perfidious Seattle Seahawks (you can tell which program I watched). Also, CBS offered a new “Big Brother” episode while AMC had “Fear the Walking Dead.” Was the competition to blame for the lowest ratings in history?

Rob Long had a different explanation for why the Emmys tanked. “Because nobody’s seen the shows,” he said. “The Emmy Awards was an awards show for people who like small shows …  the vast majority of the broadcast audience isn’t watching.”

As Jonah Goldberg said on the podcast, I didn’t even know the Emmys would be on until that afternoon when Fox aired ads during the Arizona Cardinals game. Just now I reviewed the list of nominees and I had regularly watched only two of the shows in the past year — “Better Call Saul” (love it) and “The Last Man on Earth” (got tired of it about five eps in).

The numbers reinforce Rob’s reasoning. Not only are audiences avoiding the critics’ favorites, many are switching off the telly completely. In an article titled “Where Did Everybody Go?” AdAge reviewed the carnage of the Tuesday night returns. A few findings:

  • “According to Nielsen fast national data, every returning Tuesday night drama suffered double-digit ratings declines, while the three new series were a mixed bag.”
  • “As was the case Monday night, some of broadcast’s most reliable franchises were down versus their year-ago numbers.”
  • “The number of adults 18-to-49 watching prime-time programming dropped 8% versus the year-ago period and overall usage in the demographic for the last two nights is down 10%.”
  • “[T]he most disconcerting PUT data concerns younger viewers, who are ditching traditional TV faster than anyone could have anticipated. TV viewing among adults 18-to-24 is now down 20% versus the first two nights of the 2014-15 season, and male usage in that age range has withered by nearly a quarter (24%). While last fall was blighted by disappearing female viewers, this year it’s the menfolk who are pulling the old Invisible Man routine.

How have your viewing habits changed over the past few years? Are you watching more or less TV? And, if less, how are you spending your time instead?

Published in Entertainment
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  1. Benjamin Glaser Inactive
    Benjamin Glaser
    @BenjaminGlaser

    I have not had satellite/cable for three years and only watch the networks for live sports.

    Watch everything on Netflix and Amazon Prime Instant Video (I do purchase episodes on Amazon for a couple of cable series).

    • #1
  2. Guruforhire Inactive
    Guruforhire
    @Guruforhire
    1. I watch anime on Hulu and netflix
    2. I watch the great british baking show on PBS
    3. Animation Domination on Sunday
    4. Archer
    5. South Park
    6. I was the one straight guy watching Fashion Police until Joan died
    7. The Soup
    8. The Soup had a short run show called the comment section after it which was awesome
    • #2
  3. skipsul Inactive
    skipsul
    @skipsul

    Cut cable back in 2008. Occasionally watch Netflix or Amazon, but that is getting rarer. Nothing is being made anymore that draws my interest in the slightest.

    • #3
  4. Casey Inactive
    Casey
    @Casey

    I don’t watch anything and I have no idea what those guys are talking about but I like it.

    I can’t believe awards shows are still a thing. Seems so 70s.

    • #4
  5. Guruforhire Inactive
    Guruforhire
    @Guruforhire

    Oh and cutthroat kitchen with Alton Brown who is manlier than you are

    • #5
  6. Percival Thatcher
    Percival
    @Percival

    If it weren’t for sports and movies, I wouldn’t watch much of anything at all. Anytime I go channel surfing, I run into nothing but “reality” TV shows such as “Are You Smarter than an American Idol Keeping up with Dance Moms” or whatever it is. Feh.

    • #6
  7. Judge Mental Member
    Judge Mental
    @JudgeMental

    Other than Fox News, which is sort of default (especially if I’m not paying attention), I mostly watch the small cable shows, but all on DVR.

    I remember when a season of TV was 39 episodes.  Now a lot of shows are only 12, which means it’s not on most of the year.  Both of those (count and out-of-season) encourage binge watching; TV becomes less routine and you do less of it.

    I also went without any TV for 8 years while living in Jersey.  After the first month, you don’t even notice it.

    • #7
  8. Brian Watt Inactive
    Brian Watt
    @BrianWatt

    Cut the cord back in June. My cable provider sent out fliers conveying that they were transitioning all current local programming to encrypted digital in August of this year and promoting their new mini-box so subscribers could continue to get local programming in HD. It’s late September and still many channels on the coax feed are available including the major networks – NBC, CBS, ABC and other independents all in HD. They’re also still making Fox News available.

    In the interim, I picked up a Roku box and subscribed to SlingTV $20/mo. with their movie package add on for an additional $5/mo. I also have a few AppleTVs in the house. Recently watched several Great Performances broadcasts via the free PBS offering on AppleTV as well as the 3+ hour American Masters documentary on Walt Disney. Also several documentaries on Netflix. I’m discovering interesting programming that I hadn’t done previously.

    I don’t watch TV series on the networks. Stopped doing that many years ago. And several series are available via Netflix for binge watching if I get the urge. At the moment am able to see a lot of college and NFL football on either the Roku box (ESPN/ESPN2 with SlingTV) or through the still available over-the-coax feed from my provider.

    All that said, the amount of time I’m viewing TV has dropped substantially…maybe by at least 60 to 70%. If I’m in the car, I will tune in the Fox News simulcast on SiriusXM most of the time to stay on top of current news or listen to songs from my iTunes library.

    Since June, I’ve been able to save about $680 on my cable bill ($170/mo). I only use my cable provider to deliver my Internet connection via their coax feed. Don’t miss all the programming I never watched but was paying for before.

    If the provider gets around to blocking all the local network and independent feeds over coax, then I’ll look into an antenna or maybe consider DirectTV. In the meantime, I continue to save money every month.

    • #8
  9. Mate De Inactive
    Mate De
    @MateDe

    I watch the jim Gaffigan show and watch everything else on Netflix. If it weren’t for sports I would cancel my cable.

    • #9
  10. Jon Gabriel, Ed. Admin
    Jon Gabriel, Ed.
    @jon

    Guruforhire:Oh and cutthroat kitchen with Alton Brown who is manlier than you are

    Alton Brown is one of my heroes. “Good Eats” taught me to cook!

    • #10
  11. Troy Senik, Ed. Contributor
    Troy Senik, Ed.
    @TroySenik

    Fox foolishly ran the awards opposite “Sunday Night Football” in which my beloved Green Bay Packers trounced the perfidious Seattle Seahawks

    You guys know I’m still here, right? I can read this stuff.

    • #11
  12. Whiskey Sam Inactive
    Whiskey Sam
    @WhiskeySam

    I watch fewer shows than before.  The quality simply isn’t there.  From a technical standpoint, the shows are much better than the past, and some dramas are extremely well written.  However, I can only watch so many cop, lawyer, or doctor shows.  It is more about who is in the show, who is writing it, or some other “in” that makes me take notice that it might be worth watching.  There isn’t a single new show this season I have an interest in.  I watch about 20 shows but because of the off-shifted seasons now on cable and outside sources, I’m never really watching more than five TV series at any one time.  That breaks down to one show a night during the week.

    The networks can blame themselves for a lot of this.  USA, for example, used to be a staple with anything they made, but they changed direction.  I’m down to just watching Suits now.  I’ve been burned so many times with FOX I’ve given up on them completely.  They ruined so many shows because they weren’t instant ratings hits.  Week 1, so-so ratings.  Week 2 different night.  Worse ratings.  Cancel it.  Why should I reward them with watching their next show?

    Instead, I watch old shows on DVD.  So many of the comedies from the late 70s-early 80s surpass anything on TV today.  I read nightly, play the bass, play video games online with friends.  There are usually sports on between baseball, football, and hockey.  Church activities.  Throw in work travel, and it’s hard enough just to keep up with what little I watch.

    Good on you for loving the Packers, Jon!  We need to do a meet-up at the owner’s meeting one year.

    • #12
  13. Guruforhire Inactive
    Guruforhire
    @Guruforhire

    You seriously need to watch cutthroat kitchen.

    Cooking, Cheeky and generally not hurtful trash talking, and shenanigans.  its fun

    • #13
  14. Jon Gabriel, Ed. Admin
    Jon Gabriel, Ed.
    @jon

    I stopped regularly watching TV when my children were born in 2002 and 2003. We were so busy and so tired, my wife and I lost track of our favorite series and simply got out of the habit of flipping on the TV.

    Periodically we’ve gone back, mostly to watch cooking shows. The few times I’ve invested in a new series they were quickly cancelled, so I stopped trying. Every year there’s more content on the web and, better yet, it’s interactive. I get twitchy just staring at a TV for more than 30 minutes.

    Lastly, I’ve returned to reading books. My girls attend a classical charter school, so I’m furiously getting to all those classics I skipped so I don’t feel like a dummy around them.

    • #14
  15. Brian Watt Inactive
    Brian Watt
    @BrianWatt

    Troy Senik, Ed.:You guys know I’m still here, right? I can read this stuff.

    That was a GREAT GAME!!! Aaron Rodgers is phenomenal.

    Oh, howdy, Troy.

    Speaking of Troy – also loved it when Stanford trounced USC at the Coliseum no less. It was a great weekend for football.

    • #15
  16. Troy Senik, Ed. Contributor
    Troy Senik, Ed.
    @TroySenik

    Brian Watt:

    Troy Senik, Ed.:You guys know I’m still here, right? I can read this stuff.

    That was a GREAT GAME!!! Aaron Rodgers is phenomenal.

    Oh, howdy, Troy.

    Speaking of Troy – also loved it when Stanford trounced USC at the Coliseum no less. It was a great weekend for football.

    Did you know I was also a USC fan or did the spirit just mysteriously move you to find my jugular?

    Can’t complain quite as much about ‘SC. If they had to get beat, I’m glad it was at the hands of an institution that cuts me a monthly check.

    • #16
  17. JustmeinAZ Member
    JustmeinAZ
    @JustmeinAZ

    Have to admit we still watch a few network shows but almost everything is available “on demand” so it doesn’t matter when we catch them. Also watch our HBO and Showtime “on demand”. Great not to have to make an appointment for the shows we like.

    • #17
  18. Brian Clendinen Member
    Brian Clendinen
    @BrianClendinen

    I bought my first TV less than a year ago. Why should I pay for something and only watch what is every on TV when I can watch what ever I want online for free.

    • #18
  19. Hank Rhody Contributor
    Hank Rhody
    @HankRhody

    I watch very few shows anymore. Just don’t have the patience for purely passive entertainment. Did get to see the Packers game where everyone blitzed Troy…

    • #19
  20. Jim Lakely Inactive
    Jim Lakely
    @JimLakely

    I only watch live TV for sports (mostly football), or news. I maybe do “appointment viewing” three times a year — for the finales of good scripted shows/shows I like and DVR all year (Better Call Saul, The Walking Dead,  Shetland, Top Chef).

    Other than that, the wife and I a few times a week sit down to “warm up” with an episode or two of 30 Rock with dinner, then settle in on the couch to catch up on a couple of episodes of the stuff we’ve got on the DVR — such as The Strain or Project Runway. Maybe we’ll check out a movie on Xfinity On Demand, or watch a couple of episodes of Drunk History.

    We have Netflix and binge-watched House of Cards and Orange is the New Black (stopping about two-thirds through the third season as it got kinda “meh”). We’re getting Amazon Prime (FREE SHIPING!!) and will likely get started on Justified at some point. We really only have cable for the fast Internet connection.

    If cable TV wants to keep customers, they should work out a deal in which all network shows have free binge-watching capabilities for all shows for all seasons. It’s ridiculous, for instance, that Comcast/Xfinity — which owns NBC — doesn’t let you catch up with, say, the first season of The Blacklist, for free. You have to pay something like $1.99 an episode for past seasons of NBC shows. That is VERY short-sighted. I wanted to watch James Spader chew scenery from the start, but I’m not going to give even more money to Comcast for the pleasure. As a result, I won’t watch the new Blacklist episodes, either.

    Dumb, dumb, dumb.

    • #20
  21. Brian Watt Inactive
    Brian Watt
    @BrianWatt

    Troy Senik, Ed.:

    Brian Watt:

    Troy Senik, Ed.:You guys know I’m still here, right? I can read this stuff.

    That was a GREAT GAME!!! Aaron Rodgers is phenomenal.

    Oh, howdy, Troy.

    Speaking of Troy – also loved it when Stanford trounced USC at the Coliseum no less. It was a great weekend for football.

    Did you know I was also a USC fan or did the spirit just mysteriously move you to find my jugular?

    Can’t complain quite as much about ‘SC. If they had to get beat, I’m glad it was at the hands of an institution that cuts me a monthly check.

    I’m eerily clairvoyant. In fact, I knew you were going to write this. Actually, you may have mentioned it at one of the last meet-ups in Orange County, when some group in the next dining room over at the restaurant felt it was a good idea to invite the Trojan Band and blast all of the other restaurant patrons away. Subtlety and decorum is not an SC fan’s strong suit.

    I may have shared with you my story of hitting a bucket of balls at my local golf course. I was wearing one of my UCLA baseball caps. After I was done and turned to go back to my car with my clubs, a middle-aged SC fan in a very high-off-the-ground pickup saw my cap and stopped his truck nearby and blasted over his speaker system, the Trojan fight song. This at a golf course, mind you. Not sure, how many other golfers he impressed that day…or how many putts were missed.

    • #21
  22. EJHill Podcaster
    EJHill
    @EJHill

    There used to be a gentlemen’s agreement. Emmy night was the industry’s night to shine and nobody counter programmed. As for going up against the NFL that’s the Academy’s fault.

    (Insert mandatory joke here: The National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences is abbreviated NATAS, and if you read that backwards you get…)

    Between Acorn, Netflix and other services the field is just too crowded and therefore too fractured. Give me “Doc Martin” or Australia’s “Miss Fisher Murder Mysteries” before any preachy, very special episode of whatever the American networks want to offer.

    • #22
  23. Nick Stuart Inactive
    Nick Stuart
    @NickStuart

    Benjamin Glaser: Watch everything on Netflix and Amazon Prime Instant Video

    Ditto.

    Most broadcast TV is complete dreck. That which isn’t is a thin web of program holding together a bolus of advertising (virtually none of which is relevant to my life in any shape, form or fashion). Cable? Why pay for commercials?

    The typical program nowadays is 43 minutes, which means there’s 17 minutes of commercials and fluff. If a series runs 20 episodes, that’s 340 minutes, close to 6 hours of my life that I save by waiting a couple years then watching it on Netflix (which is dirt cheap).

    • #23
  24. Metalheaddoc Member
    Metalheaddoc
    @Metalheaddoc

    Jon Gabriel, Ed.:

    Guruforhire:Oh and cutthroat kitchen with Alton Brown who is manlier than you are

    Alton Brown is one of my heroes. “Good Eats” taught me to cook!

    Right on, brother! Me too. Alton is a God! Got one of his autographed at a book signing. Totally awesome!

    • #24
  25. SpiritO'78 Inactive
    SpiritO'78
    @SpiritO78

    I agree with most of the responders; the big sporting events like NFL football and the NBA finals are still on the main antenna stations for free, also I like some of the PBS shows like Sherlock. I think Americans are just deciding that cable and satellite tv aren’t worth it anymore. Providers have dumped more channels on us than anyone could hope to watch and the rates keep going up.

    • #25
  26. Metalheaddoc Member
    Metalheaddoc
    @Metalheaddoc

    I don’t watch anything on TV anymore other than the occasional cooking show. I still like Diners, Driveins and Dives. I saw my stepdaughter watching some broadcast comedy. It was stupid. Stupid situations, overacting combined with cliched cardboard characters. Total crap.

    I can’t watch medical shows, too much like the day job. I can’t watch medical or cop shows for the simple reason that the heroes are always right. Every crime/diagnosis is so neat and tidy. ” Hey, see this wound? It was made by a three inch knife wielded by a left handed Chinese guy with a bad knee.” Really? That was pretty specific. Of course the bad guy ends up being a left handed Chinese guy with a bad knee. For once, I would like for a TV doctor to be completely wrong and get sued. For once, I would like a  cop to get busted for wrongful arrest and get demoted. 

    Back in the 80s, I was a hardcore TV watcher. I used to study the TV Guide fall preview issue and plan my viewing for the season.

    I can’t remember the last non-Star Trek series I watched. Maybe Wings from the late 80s.

    • #26
  27. Probable Cause Inactive
    Probable Cause
    @ProbableCause

    We do Netflix CD/mail.  I watch some NHL streaming hockey.  The kids watch a lot of YouTube.

    I never did cable.  I don’t get the concept of paying for commercials.

    • #27
  28. Weeping Inactive
    Weeping
    @Weeping

    EJHill:Between Acorn, Netflix and other services the field is just too crowded and therefore too fractured. Give me “Doc Martin” or Australia’s “Miss Fisher Murder Mysteries” before any preachy, very special episode of whatever the American networks want to offer.

    Haven’t watched Doc Martin, but I’ve heard good things about it. Love Miss Fisher Murder Mysteries and Acorn TV.

    • #28
  29. Weeping Inactive
    Weeping
    @Weeping

    We do have FIOS TV with Verizon but most of our watching is done online with Amazon, Netflix, Hulu, and Acorn TV. And YouTube – the kids love watching videogame play-alongs on YouTube.

    • #29
  30. Locke On Member
    Locke On
    @LockeOn

    We cut the uncable – we were on Dish – several years ago and have not missed it.  We have an over-the-air HD antenna which gets used a few times a week largely for dinner-time game shows.  Otherwise, it’s Netflix or Amazon Instant Video over a Roku, or Youtube, mostly on our laptops.  The displaced time has largely gone to gaming and reading the net, as well as growing a big garden. :)

    • #30
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