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2018 in Broadcasting

A Timeline of Notable News, Information and Factoids 

As we near the end of 2018, there was another record number of original scripted programming options vying for eyeballs (across all platforms) and a continued emphasis on the “when you want where you want” programming philosophy. The consumption of content, of course, is no longer reliant on a particular schedule or at home in front of your television set, which leads to the ongoing debate: Will the traditional linear broadcasting model becoming extinct or is the rise of digital streamers an addition (and not a replacement)?
 
At present, both prevail, with digital on the rapid rise and the linear model still an option. But, at some point, the number of individual original scripted series does have to peak.
 
In this look at the key points of interest and factoids of note in 2018, let’s begin with just how much original scripted content was in contention this year. FX, which coined the term “Peak TV,” has updated its annual charting of the total number of scripted original series across broadcast, cable and online services. The tally in 2018: 495 scripted series. Comparably, FX reported just 182 shows in total across all platforms back in 2002 when its scripted drama, “The Shield,” launched.
 
By year (according to FX):
 
2018
495 series in total
144 basic cable, 45 pay cable, 146 broadcast, 160 online
 
2017
487 series in total
175 basic cable, 42 pay cable, 153 broadcast, 117 online
 
2016
455 series in total
163 basic cable, 36 pay cable, 146 broadcast, 90 online
 
2015
422 series in total
186 basic cable, 37 pay cable, 150 broadcast, 49 online
 
2014
389 series in total
174 basic cable, 34 pay cable, 148 broadcast, 33 online
 
2013
349 series in total
161 basic cable, 33 pay cable, 131 broadcast, 24 online
 
2012
288 series in total
125 basic cable, 29 pay cable, 119 broadcast, 15 online
 
2011
266 series in total
111 basic cable, 33 pay cable, 116 broadcast, 6 online
 
2002
182 series in total
30 basic cable, 17 pay cable, 135 broadcast
 
The digital streamers now feature the most original scripted programming, with the estimated 160 in total this year more than 10 times the number just six years earlier. But that’s not to say the traditional broadcast platform is ready to retire. While continued year-to-year slippage is the observation via the Nielsen ratings, the five networks are still totaling 32.4 million viewers this fall (Sept. 24 – Dec. 9, 2018), which is only 4% below the comparable year-ago period. Results in adults 18-49 — 7.4 rating/31 share – are down, overall, by 10% (in rating).

While CBS is at risk to lose its perennial first-place finish in total viewers (the network has been most-watched for 10 straight years), Fox, on the flipside, is benefiting by the arrival of “Thursday Night Football.” Once the massive merger between Disney and Fox is completed (see timeline below), expect Fox to continue towards a more mass appeal programming strategy.

The 5 Broadcast Network Season to-Date

Total Viewers
NBC: 8.99 million (-2% from the comparable year-ago period)
CBS: 8.99 (- 8%)
Fox: 7.14 (+16%)
ABC: 5.78 (-11%)
CW: 1.44 (-23%)
5-Net Total: 32.4 million (-4%)

Adults 18-49
NBC: 2.2 rating/9 share (- 8%)
Fox: 2.0/ 9 (+11%)
CBS: 1.4/ 6 (-22%)
ABC: 1.3/ 5 (-19%)
CW: 0.5/ 2 (-17%)
5-Net Total: 7.4 rating/31 share (-10% in rating)
 
Key Observations:
-“The Conners” on ABC is a success (discussions for a renewal for 2019-20 are underway).

-“Last Man Standing” is also working for Fox, while the revivals of “Magnum. P.I.” and “Murphy Brown” on CBS and “Charmed” on The CW are not.

-The Chicago-set Dick Wolf programming strategy on NBC Wednesday – “Chicago Med,” “Chicago Fire” and “Chicago PD” – is the most successful programming move this season.

-CBS faces the loss of “The Big Bang Theory” this spring, which could be particularly detrimental.

-NBC remains problematic in the sitcom department (including season two of the revival of “Will & Grace,” which has lost considerable steam).

-“The Simpsons” on Fox has surpassed classic CBS western “Gunsmoke” with more episodes produced than any other scripted series historically (650 through January 6, 2019).

-The CW continues to rely on social media to determine what is working – and what is not.

-No new series have broken out this season, and “FBI” on CBS and “Manifest” and “New Amsterdam” on NBC prove that the lead-in program (“NCIS,” “The Voice” and “This Is Us” in these cases) still matters.

-Saturday remains abandoned.

The Top 10 Telecasts of 2018
“Super Bowl LII” (NBC): 104.1 million
“Super Bowl” Post-Game (NBC): 74.0
NFC Championship (Fox): 42.4
NFC Playoff (Fox): 35.8
“This Is Us” – following “Super Bowl” (NBC): 33.4
Winter Olympics opening (NBC): 29.3
College Football championship (ESPN): 27.9
“The Academy Awards” (ABC): 27.9
“Roseanne” – premiere (ABC): 27.3
AFC Divisional Playoff (CBS): 26.9

The Top 10 Regularly Scheduled Series Averages 
“Roseanne” (ABC): 20.0 million
“Sunday Night Football” (NBC): 19.6
“The Big Bang Theory” (CBS): 18.3
“NCIS” (CBS): 16.7
“This Is Us” (NBC): 16.6
“Young Sheldon” (CBS): 15.7
“Manifest” (NBC): 14.6
“The Good Doctor” (ABC): 14.5
“America’s Got Talent” (NBC): 14.3
“Bull” (CBS): 13.5

2018 Timeline 

-February 13
Ryan Murphy signed a five-year deal with Netflix (reported at an estimated $300 million) to produce new series and films exclusively at Netflix.
 
-March 7
Nickelodeon announced upcoming new versions of animated classics “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” (now called “Rise of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles”) and “Blue’s Clues.”
 
-April 2
At a session at the Multicultural TV Summit in New York City, it was announced that Hispanic spending reached a reported $1.5 trillion in the retail and consumer packaged goods market in 2017 — up from $1.0 trillion just five years earlier. The projection is more growth in the future, both in population and spending. By 2060, the Hispanic U.S. population is projected to be 28.6%.

-April 10
Following its acquisition of Scripps Networks Interactive for a reported $14.6 billion, Discovery presented an  “Advertising Works Here”-themed presentation in New York City for all platforms—TV, digital and mobile – for 12 of the networks now under the Discovery umbrella. Combined, Discovery now controls approximately 20% of the ad-supported pay-television audience in the United States.
 
-May 2
Hulu announced at its NewFront that it had crossed the 20 million subscriber mark and renewed its critically acclaimed drama, “The Handmaid’s Tale,” for a third season.
 
-May 19
The latest royal wedding, Prince Harry and former “Suits” actress Meghan Markle at the iconic St George’s Chapel in Windsor Castle in England, amassed a reported 1.9 billion viewers worldwide.
 
-May 24
NFL owners unanimously approved a new national anthem policy that requires players to stand if they are on the field during the performance, but gives them the option to remain in the locker room if they prefer.
 
-May 29
ABC canceled the top-rated revival of “Roseanne” following by a racist tweet by Roseanne Barr.
 
-June 5
As of this year, a report announced that 3.196 billion people are using social media on the planet. Comparably, that is up by 13% from 2017. A total of 50% use Facebook daily, while only 39% watch television. According to the latest CMO survey, advertising budgets for social media are predicted to increase by 32% in 2018, and almost double by 2013.
 
-June 20
Instagram announced it will begin allowing users to upload videos up to one hour in length, up from the previous one-minute limit. And to house the new longer-form videos from content creators and the general public, Instagram launched IGTV. Accessible from a button inside the Instagram homescreen, as well as a standalone app, IGTV spotlights popular videos from Instagram celebrities.
 
-July 27
Disney and Fox shareholders approved the merger between the two companies, which should be completed in the first half of 2019. Disney will acquire the Fox network, FX Networks, National Geographic Partners, Fox Sports Regional Networks, Fox Networks Group International and Fox’s interest in Hulu, among others. And what it means for Fox, in particular, is the continued integration from a once envelope pushing network in content into a more mass appeal (a.k.a. generic) looking outlet. One expected arrival, effective in October 2019, is WWE’s “SmackDown Live” in a massive new five-year deal worth more than $1 billion.
 
-September 9
CBS Chief Executive Leslie Mooves stepped down after new sexual allegations were made against him.
 
-September 17
Amy Sherman-Palladino made Emmy history with her wins for comedy writing and directing for Amazon’s “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel,” making her the first woman in the awards’ 70-year history to do so.
 
-September 18
Julie Chen (now Julie Chen Moonves) announced her departure from her co-hosting role on CBS’ daytime “The Talk.” But she has maintained her hosting role on the network’s “Big Brother.”
 
-October 16
ABC debuted “The Conners.” While not as widely seen as “Roseanne,” it is still, at present, the network’s highest rated sitcom.
 
-October 17
Netflix confirmed that drama “Orange is the New Black” will conclude with the upcoming seventh season this spring.
 
-October 18
Netflix is forecasted to reach 61 million subscribers in the U.S. with an average monthly fee per subscriber of $11 (translating into $2 billion in domestic streaming revenues for fourth quarter 2018). Estimates also indicate approximately 85 million subscribers in international markets with an average monthly fee per subscriber of $8.40 (translating into about $2.1 billion in international streaming revenues in the same period).
 
-October 25
Phil McGraw inked new deal with CBS Television Distribution to extend his “Dr. Phil” daytime talker to 2023.
 
-October 26
NBC fired Megyn Kelly after controversial blackface comments.
 
-October 26
LGBTQ representation on television hit a record high this year, according to a report by GLAAD, with 8.8% out of 857 series regulars on broadcast TV openly identified as on the gay, trans, or queer spectrum. And for the first time, LGBTQ people of color outnumbered white LGBTQ characters on-screen by 50 to 49%. The study said Netflix is still the best streaming platform for diverse representation of LGBTQ characters. 
 
-November 27
YouTube announced a pending shift by 2020 from a subscription focus to free and ad-supported under the AVOD (Advertising VOD) distribution model.
 
-December 6

Kevin Hart stepped down as host of the upcoming “Academy Awards” amid a mounting controversy after old tweets surfaced in which he expressed anti-gay sentiments and used homophobic terminology and slurs.
 
-December 10
Katz Networks, part of The E.W. Scripps Company, announced it will relaunch Court TV in 2019.
 
-December 11
Kathie Lee Gifford said she is leaving NBC’s “Today” after 11 years this coming April.
 
-December 14
Reports surfaced that musical group Maroon 5, who is performing at the upcoming Super Brown LIII half-time show in 2019, is having difficulty finding anyone to appear with them due to the NFL’s stance on a player’s right to protest (brought to the forefront by football’s top conscientious objector Colin Kaepernick)
 
 
Top 20 Cable Networks (Total Viewers)
January 1 – December 9, 2018

Fox News Channel: 2.47 million
ESPN: 1.82 million
MSNBC: 1.81 million
HGTV: 1.33 million
USA: 1.29 million
TBS: 1.27 million
TNT: 1.18 million
Hallmark Channel: 1.05 million
History: 1.04 million
CNN: 990,000
Discovery Channel: 952,000
A+E: 895,000
Food Network: 862,000
TLC: 846,000
AMC: 748,000
FX: 745,000
Adult Swim: 644,000
TV Land: 629,000
Bravo: 603,000

Finally, and according to Nielsen’s latest Total Audience Report
 
-U.S. adults spend 10 hours and 24 minutes per day connected to media. Adults 50-64 spend more time per day on media than any other age group, and adults 18-34 spend more time on digital than TV and TV-connected devices.
 
-Time spent with the television set is shifting, with consumers spending more time using TV-connected devices to stream content in addition to traditional TV.
 
-Black adults spend 2 hours, 22 minutes longer per day across all media than average.
 
-More than half of Asian-American households have an enabled smart TV.
 
-TV and TV-connected device usage peaks during the 9 p.m. hour.
 
-Nearly three-quarters (73%) of media time spent at 11 p.m. is consumed through the TV glass.
 
-92% of adults listen to radio during the average week, more than any other platform.
 
-Devices are used simultaneously, with consumers choosing to multitask by researching something they heard or saw, checking email, online shopping or simply staying connected with others.
 
As we head into 2019, we will keep you up to date with an ongoing timeline of news and information in a series of bi-monthly updates for American Target Network.

Happy Holidays and Happy New Year!

2 Comments

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  1. I don’t think it’s fair to say that the “Murphy Brown” revival isn’t working. I believe the ratings expectations on the heels of the “Roseanne” revival were unfair given the fact that they’re two entirely different series with largely different audiences launching at two different times of the year for two opposing reasons.

    Additionally, CBS should have returned it to its original night and time instead of allowing it to get lost at 930pm on the far more competitive Thursday. With overlooked “The Neighborhood” proving to be an effective anchor for the evening, it has that an a tentpole to once again revert back to its longtime comedy block.

    And though “Murphy” started off shakey creatively, it is finding its footing and deserves a 2nd revival season.

  2. I am hoping for a second season of “Murphy Brown” also. But I just don’t think it really resonated. I hope you are right, Terrance.

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