Viewers Just Can't Get Enough Cable


The more things change in TV land, the more they seem to stay the same.

With all of the talk about consumers cutting the cord with cable and viewers flocking to the Web to see their favorite shows or to sample other content, cable shows continue to draw viewers to the television in record numbers.

Viewers during second-quarter 2010 averaged 17 hours per person per week, the highest average for the period ever, according to Turner Research.

Meanwhile, more than 10.2 billion videos were streamed in the U.S. in June 2010 alone — a 1.3% increase from the number of streams in June 2009 and nearly a 4% jump from the previous month’s figures, according to Nielsen.

While user-generated video from YouTube accounted for the lion’s share of those streams, the cable and broadcast network-supported Hulu online service generated nearly 600 million video views last month, mostly episodes from cable and broadcast network shows.

The average hours spent viewing cable programming shows consumers are still choosing to watch quality cable programming on the boob tube. Want more proof? Look at some of the ratings figures generated by cable shows thus far through July.

TNT’s drama skein Rizzoli & Isles debuted with the highest audience ever for an ad-supported series, drawing a whopping 7.6 million viewers. The cop series about two female friends, one a detective and the other a medical examiner, outpaced series premieres of such shows as The Closer, Burn Notice and Monk — all of which premiered prior to the launch of Hulu and before the explosion of streamed full-length show episodes on cable-based websites.

Rizzoli & Isles’ second episode performed nearly as well, averaging 7.2 million viewers, beating its lead-in hit series The Closer, which itself drew an impressive 6.9 million viewers in its sixth season.

Over at A&E Network, new original scripted drama series The Glades drew a network record 3.6 million viewers to its July 11 season premiere. The July 13 debut of USA Network’s Covert Affairs averaged 4.9 million viewers, topping its lead-in — the sophomore season premiere of White Collar — and beating out Rizzoli & Isles among the key adult 18-to-49 demo.

It’s clear viewers, particularly teens and college-age, techno-savvy young adults, are choosing to time-shift cable television programming by streaming content via the Web and mobile phones, or recording shows on their DVRs.

Other companies, like mail-order DVD provider Netflix and even gaming consoles Xbox and PS3, also provide opportunities for consumers to watch cable shows without the need for cable.

Still, despite cable’s online competition and the uncertain economic climate, consumers this summer aren’t pulling the plug on their favorite cable shows.

They’re enjoying cable fare the best way: in the cool comfort of their own homes, on their high-definition TV sets.