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February Brought More Bad News For The TV Biz; Ratings Down 10%

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February Brought More Bad News For The TV Biz; Ratings Down 10%
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February brought more bad news for the cable and broadcast television business, with ratings down about 10 percent from a year ago, following similar declines in January.

Citi's Jason B. Bazinet, who analyzed February viewing data, said the audience decline is translating into lower ad growth rates for the networks.

Video-on-demand subscription services may lead increasing numbers of households to "cut the cord" entirely, leaving the cable industry in a bind, Bazinet said.

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Viacom, Inc. (NASDAQ: VIAB) may have seen the steepest slide. Its Nickelodeon programming aimed mostly at children was off 36 percent in February, while Comedy Central and MTV each fell 28 percent.

Twenty-First Century Fox Inc (NASDAQ: FOXA) prime time broadcasts were down 25 percent from a year ago; but the audience for its FXX channel increased 71 percent. Fox News' audience grew by 1 percent.

Time Warner Cable Inc (NYSE: TWC) CNN and Headline News channels gained 53 percent and 19 percent, respectively, while its Tru and TNT channels lost 40 percent and 24 percent of their viewers.

Broadcasters fared about the same as cable companies, with an average audience decline of about 11 percent in February.

CBS Corporation (NYSE: CBS) managed to grow its audience by 34 percent, while Walt Disney Co (NYSE: DIS)'s ABC unit viewers expanded by 68 percent.

Declines of 59 percent at Comcast Corporation (NASDAQ: CMCSA)'s NBC unit and 25 percent at Fox's broadcast network, however, more than offset CBS and Disney's gains.

Image credit: Aaron Escobar

Latest Ratings for VIAB

DateFirmActionFromTo
Dec 2016WedbushDowngradesOutperformNeutral
Dec 2016RBC CapitalDowngradesSector PerformUnderperform
Nov 2016FBR CapitalDowngradesOutperformMarket Perform

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