Video on demand (VOD) services such as Netflix are beginning to have an impact on traditional TV viewing, like cable TV networks, according to Nomura media analyst Anthony DiClemente. In January alone there was a sharp decline of 12.7 percent in cable TV watching, which is one of the worst declines ever seen.
Statistics show that Viacom’s collection of networks had particularly poor ratings for January. Viacom owns channels such as MTV, CMT, BET, Nickelodeon and Comedy Central, among others. Its overall ratings plunged by 23 per cent in January, compared to the same month a year earlier.
Ratings for the specialty network AMC fell by almost 19 per cent. It was noted that the channel didn’t show any new original programming for January, so ratings are expected to change in February with a new season of The Walking Dead, and the premiere of the Breaking Bad spinoff Better Call Saul.
Meanwhile, Twentieth Century Fox saw its ratings decline by ten per cent, while the Disney cable networks lost only 7.5 percent of their audience. Even Time Warner was down by about three per cent.
There was an 8 percent drop across all cable networks in 2014, which makes the figures for January look all the more alarming.
DiClemente believes that streaming services are the biggest reason for this decline, and suggests that Amazon Instant Video, Hulu and Netflix are drawing viewers away from regular TV.
In the past audiences would stream for an average of only 15 minutes per day, but recent statistics from Netflix show that its subscribers are tuning in for an average if 90 minutes every day.
One of the main problems for television networks is that there is no real data to show current viewing trends across the board for both live TV and streaming services.
In response to this need, Nielsen has said that it will start to include data on online video streaming in its monthly ratings, at some point in the near future. This should help provide greater perspective on what audiences are watching and what the future may hold.