Broadcasters Losing Viewers on Lucrative Thursday Nights

Primetime viewership on Thursdays -- which features TV's most expensive commercial time -- is down 14% from a year ago.

Thursday night, one of the most lucrative areas for broadcasters, is losing viewers, the Wall Street Journal reported.

Fewer Americans are watching primetime TV on the night this fall as a result of changes in viewing habits, weaker shows and an increased variety of competition, especially from cable, according to the WSJ.

As a result, this season the night is trailing Sundays through Wednesdays in the key adults 18-49 demo, the one most sought after by advertisers. Overall, the broadcast networks have seen a 14% decline in viewership from the same period a year ago, according to Nielsen data cited by the WSJ.

The drop is significant because broadcasters have generally been able to charge more for commercials on Thursday nights from advertisers looking to make a big push for new movies, restaurants and other products heading into the weekend.

Thursdays were once home to such hit shows as NBC's Seinfeld, Friends and ER, which led the network to brand the night's lineup as "Must-See TV."

This season, veteran Thursday night shows including CBS' CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, ABC's Grey's Anatomy and NBC's The Office are losing viewers. A new entry, ABC's My Generation, failed to generate much interest among viewers and was canceled after two episodes.

But it's not all bad news: This fall, CBS moved Thursday staple Survivor to Wednesdays, in its place successfully launching an 8 p.m. comedy block anchored by The Big Bang Theory, which relocated from Mondays, followed by newcomer $#*! My Dad Says.

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