Faithful readers may recall another post in February entitled "NYTimes: Broadcast TV Faces Struggle to Stay Viable". It had quotes from NYT on the declining viewership of over-the-air television networks as opposed to cable only networks,e.g. HBO.
Now Time, admittedly HBO's owner, has a similar piece in the April 6 issue:
In 1994, when ER debuted, NBC, CBS and ABC ruled TV. The fourth network, Fox, had no top-20 shows. Cable was flourishing but was hardly a threat. Only a handful of dorks (like me) were using "graphical user interfaces" like Netscape to look at something called the World Wide Web.
Fifteen years later, the networks are, as the TV docs say, crashing. In the 1994-95 season, 43% of U.S. households, on average, watched the Big Four at a given moment in prime time. Now it's 27%.
The most obvious reason the small-TV era has made television better is the rise of cable. Even as Fox finds new hours on the clock to air American Idol, brilliant comedies and (especially) dramas on cable are flourishing--Breaking Bad, United States of Tara, In Treatment, Rescue Me and The Colbert Report, just for starters.
The article has a graphic showing the percentage of households watching ABC, CBS, and NBC through the years. In 1952-3 it was 76%; now it is 18%. 68% of households watched I Love Lucy when it was the top program, now American Idol gets 16%. Similar data was in the NY Times graphic entitled "Defining Success Downward".
Which brings me again to the advertising in Metro's Capitol South station shown at the top of this post. I am sure that NAB is not totally falsifying this claim, but could someone from their community please post here, anonymously if you wish, a reference to this data and what it specifically means.