U.S. TV Universe Update. Plus the Distribution Footprints of Channels that Buy Documentary & Unscripted Programs

The widely-used Nielsen Household and Persons Universe numbers provide an important context for the economic health of the channels that commission, coproduce and acquire documentary programs.

My valued colleague, Byron Medias John Morse, shared the data and context.

TOTAL U.S TV UNIVERSE:

  • The total US Universe of TV homes increased from 119.9 Million a year ago to 120.6 Million this month.
  • That’s a 700,000 (0.06%) increase in total US TV homes.

Highlights

  • Persons 2+ increased from 305.4 to 307.3 Million.
  • Persons 18-34 increased from 69.8 to 70.1 Million.
  • Persons 18-49 increased from 128.9 to 129.5 Million.
  • Persons 25-54 increased from 120.6 to 121.2 Million.
  • Persons 35-64 increased from 120.6 to 120.6 Million.
  • Persons 55+ increased from 92.0 to 93.4 Million.
  • Hispanics increased from 16.2 to 16.9 Million
  • Asians increased from 6.2 to 6.4 Million
  • African Americans increased from 15.9 to 16.0 Million
  • Broadcast-only homes now stands at 14% of US homes (16.7 Million) as cord cutting continues.

There are now:

  • 91.5 Million Professionals/Owners/Managers (POM)
  • 120.1 Million with Household Income $100K+
  • 87.8 Million with HH Income $125K+

Cord Cutting

Cable network cord-cutting continued through September ’19:

  • Broadcast-only homes now stands at 14% of US homes (16.7 Million).
  • The average network lost 2,884,000 homes year-over-year (-5.2%)
  • The wired cable universe was down 1,414,000 homes (-2.4%).
  • Satellite subscription was down 3,155,000 (-9.4%).
  • These declines were partially offset by additional virtual MVPD carriage of 2,364,000 homes for the average network
  • (vMVPD = network programming delivered through the Internet including Sling, DirecTV Now, SONY PlayStation Vue, Hulu Live, YouTube TV, Fubo TV, and Philo).

Byron Media: More Information & Analysis

  • For a free copy of the full report, contact John Morse.
  • Whether it’s audience measurement, distribution, ad sales, marketing/promotion, multi-platform, “big data” usage, or program content and scheduling, Byron Media makes the bottom-line difference for companies.
  • Call 516-627-5634 or contact John@ByronMedia.com

DISTRIBUTION OF NETWORKS THAT COMMISSION FACTUAL PROGRAMS

The table below captures Nielsen’s estimates of the HOUSEHOLD distribution universe for U.S. Cab / Sat channels:

  • My selection focuses on 42 networks that are dedicated to unscripted programs, or that include factual and/or Reality.
  • They are ranked by SCALE, beginning with the most broadly distributed.
NETWORK U.S. HOUSEHOLD
UNIVERSE ‘(000)
FOOD 88,623
TBS 88,540
HGTV 87,909
USA NETWORK 87,747
CNN / HLN 87,697
TNT 87,681
DISCOVERY 87,678
FX 86,926
NAT GEO CHANNEL 86,471
HISTORY 86,354
TLC 85,842
E! 85,578
A&E 85,401
LIFETIME 85,312
SYFY 85,272
BRAVO 85,051
ANIMAL PLANET 84,569
MSNBC 84,016
FOX NEWS 83,762
TRU TV 83,272
ID 82,807
VH1 81,324
TRAVEL 81,271
MTV 80,509
WE TV 80,335
WEATHER 78,810
BBC-AMERICA 78,433
BET 77,037
MOTOR TREND 73,229
OWN (OPRAH) 70,990
OXYGEN 70,486
SUNDANCE TV 67,970
MTV2 64,063
NAT GEO WILD 58,926
SCIENCE 56,566
COOKING 55,931
REELZ 55,206
BABY FIRST TV 53,336
DIY 50,817
FYI 50,585
DISCOVERY FAMILY 49,261
GAC 46,471
AMERICAN HEROES 44,854
FUSE 43,463
OVATION 41,522
DESTINATION AMERICA 41,376
DISCOVERY LIFE 39,343
SMITHSONIAN 38,224
OUTDOOR 32,264
HBO PRIME 29,369
JUSTICE CENTRAL 28,133
SHOWTIME 27,041


Peter’s Takeaways:

Highlights

  • The average linear network measured nationally by Nielsen is carried in 60,076,000 homes.
  • Food Network has the largest HH distribution: 88,623,000.
  • Food also has the largest number of vMVPD homes: 5,701,000, up 167,000 past month.

Crime Still Pays

Slow Sunset

  • The U.S. Cab / Sat channels subscriber universe is not falling off a cliff, but is in steady decline.
  • However, U.S. channels enjoy long-term distribution agreements, earning carriage fees as well as advertising revenues.
  • The channels combined are now — and will remain — massive buyers of unscripted programs for the foreseeable future.
  • Their buying volume is necessary to sustain their 24 x 7 schedules.
  • Netflix and the SVOD‘s don’t purchase factual programs at the same volume as leading factual channels:
    • The leading online platforms acquire just enough documentaries and unscripted entertainment to attract and retain subscribers.
    • Their customers are primarily drawn to binge-watchable scripted series.
    • See my coverage of Netflix online engagement comparing top Originals in the Documentary and Scripted categories.

Nielsen Data

  • Nielsen updates all its universe national base counts once per year, effective each September.
  • For the full report, contact my colleague John Morse:  John@ByronMedia.com