Broadcast of Live Events Hit an All Time Low this Year

It use to be that television networks, and other cable channels, could count on a huge ratings uplift simply by broadcasting a live event. Didn’t matter all that much what the live event was, just so long as it was happening right then and there.

For 2016, however, that strategy held out little hope for television broadcasters, especially for the networks. There seems much speculation with regard as to why that is happening. Binge watching television has become a recent favorite as has the formidable use of the DVR. It doesn’t matter if it’s live. With my DVR, I will just watch it when I get time.


Online viewing has also begun to take its toll on live broadcasts. So have the online entertainment giants Hulu and Netflix. As well as, of course, social media. Everyone presenting a live broadcast has suffered regardless of industry it seems. Few are watching such live events as Major League Baseball. Despite the optimistic drivel and braggadocio from MLB, their attendance, as well as their television numbers, has taken a serious dive over the years. Even the vaunted National Football League is seeing a ratings decline this season for live broadcasts that it has never seen before.

And then there are the tedious awards shows. Watching industry members glad hand other industry members just doesn’t seem to carry the clout it use to. Both the Emmy’s and the Oscar’s numbers were way down and it can’t even be contemplated how far the other awards show’s ratings have fallen. No one, it seems, is all that interested in the rich and famous giving out awards to other rich and famous.

Even this past summer’s Olympic Games from Rio was hard pressed to have people tune in. According to advertising trend tracker company, Magna Global, the Olympics viewership was down anywhere from 20%-33%. The company’s most recent report on 2016 stated that:

“2016 was, indeed, the year when the last program genre that seemed to guarantee stable reach and ratings for linear television suffered from the erosion in viewing that has already affected every other program genre in the last six years.”

These huge and supposedly dramatic events are seeming more and more less so to the viewing public. Magna Global’s research also indicated that people are not only disinclined to view something live but care so little for the event that they won’t even turn in to a replay of the live event.

The report also declared that: “Instead of watching the four full hours of the Olympic ceremonies, or the Super Bowl, they might watch ten minutes of highlights.”

PHOTO CREDITS: Al Seib, The Los Angeles Times / Danny Wild, USA Today


Mr. Sawyer is a freelance writer, editor and journalist from Tampa. He has written thousands of articles for hundreds of magazines and news sites on countless topics including science, the media and technology. He is also the author of many white papers, special reports and ebooks covering a wide range of subjects.
Kevin Sawyer
Broadcast Beat - Production Industry Resource