Television ratings in deep freeze

December 24, 2008

Since we’re coming up on year’s end, it’s worth a quick review of the television season so far. It has stunk. There. That’s about all you need to know.

Don’t take our word for it, look at the weekly Nielsen numbers that came out yesterday. The lone exception is CBS, which continues to hold up relatively well in the face of all the challenges facing the TV market.

Here’s the Hollywood Reporter’s roundup:

Following its 12th consecutive weekly victory in total viewers, CBS became the first major broadcast network this season to move into positive year-to-year territory since premiere week.

Through Dec. 21, CBS has averaged 12 million viewers, up 1% from last year. NBC, ABC and Fox are each down 9%.

All of the Big Four are still in the red in the adults 18-49 demo, with CBS closest to breaking even at minus 3%.

As we all know by now, everything will probably change on January 13, when American Idol returns to Fox. Perhaps that — or the introduction of midseason shows — will give ratings a broad boost. If not, it’s going to be a long cold winter in the TV business.

Keep an eye on:

  • As growth in online advertising slows, some Internet companies are easing the restrictions they impose on the categories and formats of advertising they will accept (
  • FedEx is pulling out of the Super Bowl due to budget worries amid the downturn (NY Post)
  • China’s broadcasting watchdog has ordered a crackdown on low-brow confessional talk shows as part of a campaign against base entertainment (Reuters)

(Photo: Reuters)

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