Without any scripted shows to fill the schedule, broadcast ratings suffered in the fall. In the wake of the two Hollywood strikes, ABC, CBS, Fox, and NBC all saw a decline in viewership.

The Hollywood Reporter claims that ABC, CBS, Fox, and NBC “probably missed out on airing more than 200 episodes” of scripted programming this autumn. Unscripted television programs, like Survivor, Dancing With the Stars, and The Voice, did not receive the same amount of viewership as scripted programs.

This summer’s dueling Hollywood strikes by SAG-AFTRA and WGA stopped almost all written entertainment production. Broadcast networks substituted unscripted programs or reruns for scripted slots in order to fill their vacant fall roster.

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Monday Night Football had an average of 4.13 million viewers on ABC last autumn. Since the start of the season, NBC’s Sunday Night Football has averaged 19.6 million viewers per game, a 10% increase over the previous season. On Saturday nights, the network televises Big Ten and Notre Dame football games, which have seen an increase in viewership of over a million per year. But when news and sports are taken out of the equation, ABC’s primetime viewership drops by 6%, while NBC’s drops by 15%.

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The number of viewers overall for CBS and Fox, which do not broadcast primetime football games, decreased by 32% and 27%, respectively, from the previous fall. The total number of CBS primetime viewers fell by 32%, or 37% when news and sports programming were excluded. The network has to rely on reruns, unscripted shows, and import content from Paramount Global, such as Yellowstone, SEAL Team, and Ghosts, in addition to its heavy reliance on scripted programming. Fox experienced a reduction in primetime viewership of 27% and 34% when news and sports content were taken out.

When broadcasters start airing normal content again next year, networks might see an increase in ratings, but it appears that news and sports are the primary draws for cable TV viewers.

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