Ding-Dong The Small Screen Is Almost Dead

“Premiere week” is traditionally the biggest week for TV shows throughout the year. Ratings and viewership levels have hit record lows across the board. How bad is it? Well, there was a 37% decline.

That’s the total drop in viewership over five years ago. Most businesses that lose nearly 4 in ten customers within five years are done. That gives you an idea of how dire this is becoming. But it’s not just the small screen. Entering September movie attendance was down 5% for the year and is also off about 20% from five years ago and even Broadway is off double-digits from years gone by. 

A few things are driving this. The first and obvious is technology. Cord-cutting is a huge part of the equation and, based on my analysis, is the biggest difference between the 37% decline its experienced compared to 20%ish decline for movies. That’s not the only thing at play here. According to McLaughlin and Associates, 75% of Americans believe that entertainment and entertainers should stay away from politics. We’ve seen a certain degree of acknowledgment of this issue with some of the recent tweaks with award shows for example, but generally the messaging, even in storylines, is political and partisan.

As Hollywood has increasingly embraced politics, it’s lost viewers. It’s not complicated, yet, they seem not to want or be able to help themselves. Continuing down this plot has a predictable ending without the need for high priced writers, in fact, the industry would probably benefit from finding cheaper, less ideological talent. It’s interesting that shows rooted with family values, little politicking and non-divisive actors attached, like This Us, can still defy the odds. It’s also notable that non-network shows on the traditional medium like Downton Abby can as well. You’d think they’d learn but they’d have to put their customers first and political agendas second. I’m not holding my breath. And I’m also not holding movie tickets or watching their shows. I’m very much part of the 37%.

Photo by: Getty Images

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