Radio Solid As TV Crumbles


(By Bob McCurdy) Every day we’re doing business in the biggest media petri dish since Gutenberg invented the printing press over five centuries ago. And no medium is above the fray, including TV. It’s interesting to note that in spite of the additional audio and video competition, radio is the medium that’s retaining its audience far more effectively than either network or cable television.

The following headlines from the past several months put TV’s plight into perspective. As marketing professionals, it is important for us to not only be “up” on radio but all media.

For Most Americans, Cable TV Is Just Unaffordable
November 1, 2018

  • A new Hollywood Reporter/Morning Consult poll suggests that many Americans simply find the cost of cable too high. As many as 56% of the respondents to the poll said cable was unaffordable, while almost half (47%) said the same about satellite.

Competitive Info: Netflix Overtakes Live TV As Preferred Platform
November 12, 2018

  • In a game-changer for traditional TV networks and cable companies, Netflix has overtaken live TV as the choice where viewers access their favorite shows. In Hub Research’s new “Conquering Content” study, 32% of respondents cited Netflix, while live TV garnered 26%.

As TV’s Fall C3 Ratings Crumble, Feel Free To Blame The Millennials
November 14, 2018

  • The flight of younger viewers from traditional TV has sent currency ratings for the first full month of the 2018-19 broadcast season into a tailspin, as prime time demo deliveries among the big four networks were down nearly a quarter compared to October 2016.

The New TV Season: Reboots and Reality Shows Are Sinking
November 25, 2018

  • Viewership for entertainment programming on the broadcast networks continues to fall as audiences flock to streaming services like Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon. Among adults under the age of 50, the number of viewers for network shows has tumbled an additional 10% this season.

WSJ Reports One Of The Biggest TV Cord-Cutting Quarters Ever
November 26, 2018

  • The Wall Street Journal makes the focus of its story quite clear: “Outlook for Traditional TV Goes From Bad To Worse.” By the numbers, more than 1 million consumers canceled cable TV or satellite subscriptions over just the past quarter, making it one of the largest seasonal drops ever.

TV Ratings Tip Further Down
December 11, 2018

  • Two months into broadcast television’s fall season, viewership for non-sports programming is further eroding as audiences flock to streaming services like Netflix and Hulu, The New York Times reports.

Streaming Services Outpace Linear TV Production For The First Time
December 13, 2018

  • Nearly 500 scripted series are available across linear TV, premium cable, and streamers.

Ratings Bombshell: In Two Years, Network TV Demos Plummeted 27 Percent
January 28, 2019

  • The big four networks have seen many of their demographically desirable viewers disappear.

Discovery Ad Sales Growth Softens As Ratings Sink
February 26, 2019

  • Ratings challenges across the Discovery portfolio are beginning to have a diminishing effect on the company’s advertising growth, as significant losses at the flagship network and other key brands in the fourth quarter resulted in a sequential decline in sales revenue. Flagship network’s demo deliveries drop 25 percent.

Facing Sluggish TV Ratings, Nickelodeon Looks To Shine On Stage
February 27, 2019

  • With kids’ TV in a ratings slump, Nickelodeon is looking to increase its presence on the stage.

Commish Says Shift From Linear TV Is Hurting NBA’s Deliveries of Millennials
March 05, 2019

  • The impact on the NBA’s media partners is striking; in the last eight years, ESPN has lost north of 14 million linear subs, while TNT has lost its footing in nearly 11 million households.

The following charts, generated by Media Audit, support the previous headlines and shed additional light on declining TV viewership, while corroborating the impact that Netflix, Hulu, and OTT.

The first thing to note, a positive for radio, is that radio reaches the vast majority of A25-54s who watch television across various dayparts, 83% in prime time (column #3 highlighted orange), and those that don’t watch TV during prime time, 75% (column #5 highlighted orange). So radio is a terrific vehicle to reinforce commercial messaging the viewer might have already seen on TV as well as reaching those who were not exposed to the messaging on television.

The key TV takeaway is that only 42.7% of 25-54 adults, according to Media Audit, tune to network or cable TV each week during prime time (column #2/highlighted yellow), with 57.3% not viewing (column #5/highlighted yellow) at all during that time period. The impact of Netflix, Hulu, Amazon, and OTT on TV viewership is not hypothetical.

To further corroborate Netflix, Hulu, and OTT’s impact, it’s evident from the chart below that the streaming video channels are reaching a lot of viewers (nearly 50%) who don’t watch network or cable TV on the average day. Increasingly, it appears that the video viewing universe is an “either/or” proposition, network/cable TV or the subscription services.

The bottom line is that as streaming video and OTT grows, and network and cable TV viewership continues to decline, radio becomes an even more valuable and attractive advertising vehicle to both local and national advertisers. Spread the word.

Bob McCurdy is Vice President of Sales for the Beasley Media Group and can be reached at [email protected]


  1. Whether cynical on my part or not, radio managers can warble with glee at the general demise of TV platforms.
    Bob’s report can be taken as very exciting info, indeed.
    I have to wonder, however, if the situation doesn’t also provide radio’s management a pristine opportunity to do – nothing at all.
    What would be the point, it could be argued, in taking steps to make of radio – an even more dynamic, entertaining and commercially-influential medium – when a portion of the competition is experiencing dehydration, lack of nutrition and less support?
    Based on an understood waning of one medium hardly supports any assumptions that another medium, like radio, will inherit any perceived benefits, particularly given radio’s ongoing reticence to make signifiant improvements for itself and on its own.

  2. The most under-reported option of all is – brace yourselves for the SHOCKER!! – FREE Over-The-Air TV!! Putting an old-fashioned HDTV Antenna on your roof brings oodles of FREE TV options to your screen – and when added to a ROKU subscription with Netflix and Showtime – gets a household a HUGE range of viewing options for about $30 a month!!


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