Keep in mind that Linear will not offer safe quarterly shelter as media conglomerates headed by Warner Bros. Discovery conduct terrified, ashen-faced retreats from the free-flowing red ink of the Streaming Wars.

It is fairly bare in the most recent distillation of 2021–22 nighttime average audiences by major broadcast and cable networks, which Nielsen put together and released Wednesday night to social media by LightShed Partners.

NBC won the 2021–22 TV season with an average of 5.148 million viewers in primetime, barely defeating CBS, which lost 8% of its viewers and averaged 5.144 million people. NBC saw a whopping 7% year over year decline in its average primetime viewership.

Fox lost 14% of its viewership and came in fourth place among the Big Four broadcast networks, no doubt in part as a result of losing NFL “Thursday Night Football” to Amazon.

ESPN dropped 14% of its primetime viewers, which is a significant loss for the pay TV industry’s cornerstone.

Additionally, as Rich Greenfield of LightShed noted, TNT lost 12% of its typical primetime audience, supporting WBD’s expressed hesitation to push forward with an NBA licensing renewal.

Oh, and Fox News was pretty much the only significant linear network to achieve close to flat year over year growth.

Even more alarming is the decline in linear’s most important viewer segment, adults 18–49. NBC triumphed there as well, despite a 13% drop from the previous year.


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