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Broadcast TV or Cable: Who Gets a Touchdown on Viewers?

May 11th, 2016   ||    by Callie Wheeler

This year’s numbers show broadcast TV is still the big winner against cable TV during football season. Despite dedicated cable channels, broadcast far outreaches cable in viewership during NFL playoffs and Thursday Night Football. With the season and Super Bowl behind us, what do this year’s numbers tell us about next year?

By the Numbers

According to a Television Bureau of Advertising (TVB) report analyzing Nielsen data, local broadcast TV beat cable viewership by four to eight times, depending on the game and channels analyzed. For playoff games that aired on both ABC and ESPN, ABC averaged four times as many viewers. Numbers were even better for broadcast TV in the markets of teams playing. The Kansas City Chiefs-Houston Texans game, broadcast on Kansas City ABC affiliate KMBC, scored a 45.4 household rating, while ESPN only registered a 6.6.

Thursday Night Football, airing on the NFL Network and CBS, saw similar numbers. CBS local affiliates registered an average rating of 28.9 versus NFLN’s average of 3.8. Beyond that, CBS viewership grew over the past year, jumping by 5 percent in the male ages 25–52 segment.

What the Numbers Mean

TVB’s report shows that local broadcast outlets are still football fans’ favorite way to watch games. The growth in markets also shows that this preference isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. This is great news for stations as live events are an excellent way to bring in viewers and advertising money.

By holding the lion’s share of NFL viewership, local broadcast affiliates are reaching large numbers of viewers at home, every week, throughout the season.

Planning Ahead

By arming themselves with data like this, broadcast affiliates can make the most of their advertising inventory. These numbers can be used to encourage advertisers to spend their money with local broadcast stations rather than only focusing on cable channels.

Additionally, by valuing ad inventory accordingly during special slots, such as those when local teams are playing on local affiliates, broadcast TV stations can boost the cost of inventory that has been proven to reach more viewers.

The Super Bowl provides advertisers and stations with a unique opportunity to reach large groups of viewers, but the TVB data shows it’s not the only part of the football season that matters.

As the television landscape changes, this data is providing TV stations and advertisers with opportunities to make more informed decisions. Whether using programmatic TV to purchase the best inventory for your audience, or pricing your inventory according to its value, data really makes the difference.

What to learn more about data-driven ad buying? Contact Videa.

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