Basic cable is about to register another Nielsen family milestone: the medium
for the first time will surpass the four major broadcast networks on several
viewership fronts when the books are closed on the 2001-02 TV season.
According to a Cabletelevision Advertising Bureau analysis of Nielsen data,
basic cable-with four weeks still to be tallied in the current season-should top
ABC/CBS/NBC/FOX in ratings, share and household delivery.
During the 47 weeks spanning Oct. 1, 2001 through Aug. 18, basic cable posted
an average rating of 28.0, versus a 26.0 for the four networks combined.
Relative to share, basic cable grabbed an average of 47.5 this season to
date, compared with 44.1 for the quartet of broadcast networks.
The medium's household delivery also jumped ahead of broadcast by the count
of nearly 29.6 million, versus 27.4 million.
These gains continue a long-time trend toward basic cable. CAB projects that
not only will basic cable eclipse the four broadcasters upon the conclusion of
the current TV campaign, but in the 2002-03 season the industry will move ahead
of all broadcast-even when UPN, PaxNet and The WB are added to the mix.
Last year, cable trailed ABC/CBS/NBC/FOX with a 26.1 rating, versus 27.7 for
the four networks in question.
Cable also lagged the group by 44.0 to 46.7 in share points, and was almost
1.7 million household behind in delivery-26.7 million versus 28.4 million.
A look at Nielsen data supplied by CAB show what a difference a decade can
Back in the 1992-93 season, cable averaged a 13.7 rating, 23.4 share and 12.7
On the other hand, the four broadcast networks combined for a 40.4 rating,
69.1 share and 37.6 million households.