Wall Street analysts have been paying closer attention to weekly and monthly ratings trends as the fall TV season has kicked off with weaker viewership for all broadcast networks except NBC.
And Hollywood conglomerate CEOs spent more time than usual during recent quarterly earnings call commenting on ratings momentum.
Just before the Thanksgiving holiday, one analyst highlighted though that Viacom's Nickelodeon brought in its first weekly ratings gain in more than a year last week and that CBS Corp.'s CBS was starting to see improving momentum.
In the cable TV universe, Viacom's Nickelodeon and MTV ratings showed "dramatic improvement," Barclays Capital analyst Anthony DiClemente wrote in a research report. "Viacom ratings had their best week in recent memory...Nick ratings finished the week up 2 percent year-over-year, the first time since September of last year that Nick posted positive ratings growth."
What is driving the gain? "While the network is benefitting in part from easing comparisons, we believe an improved content offering is also helping," he said.
DiClemente also mentioned improvement at CBS, which has been the overall ratings leader in recent years and also drew most viewers during November sweeps season, but lost out to NBC among the core audience of 18-49 year olds this month. Its declines have narrowed a bit as of late, he said.
"Despite a slow start in the new broadcast TV season, CBS is steadily gaining momentum in the ratings, most recently surpassing NBC for a weekly ratings victory in the 18-49 demo," he said in his report. "[It] averaged a 2.5 rating and 7.1 share, just ahead of the season-to-date ratings leader NBC (2.3 rating/6.4 share). CBS was paced by a number of the usual suspects during the week, including The Big Bang Theory (5.7 rating 17 share), which posted its best rating of the season."
Overall, CBS had 11 of the top 25 programs on TV for the past week, DiClemente highlighted.
But he said that Fox, which has been leading the race in the 18-49 adults demographic in recent years, continues to see challenges. "Fox's struggles continue in primetime ratings," the analyst wrote. "Most recently, Fox averaged a 1.4 rating and 3.9 share for the week, worst among the majors and a year-over-year decline of 26 percent. The network only had three shows in the top 25, including two episodes of X Factor and one of Family Guy."