The Summer People Stopped Watching Network TV

Already in a down-trend this whole year, network television is suffering from drastically low ratings this summer. ABC, for example? They just posted their lowest. ratings. EVER—ever!—in the 18-49 demographic. Other nets aren't doing much better.

Not that the summer was ever a terribly popular time for TV viewership, but ABC's 1.1 rating in the coveted demo last week represents a new, scary nadir.

If it was just ABC, we could chalk it up to shitty programming—they've been rolling out remainder episodes of already-canned shows like Eli Stone and The Unusuals that no one watched in the first place—but the other three (The CW really doesn't count and never did) are hemorrhaging as well.

Fox posted the highest numbers of the week, with a wan 1.7 share, as the other two came tumbling after. As expected the cable nets that air new episodes in the summer—reliables like Burn Notice and The Closer, newbie Royal Pains—are all running pretty well, so they're partly to blame. But the nets shouldn't even be coming close to the (once) lowly USA and TNT cablers.

And of course there's the internet and just the general diaspora of viewers to the millions of other TV channels (100k here, 100k there, it adds up) to be blamed. That's been going on for a few years now. What we're wondering today is how long this can be sustained. How does one approach advertisers with numbers like this? Again, summer's always a doldrums, but this is just hardly even worth it. Might as well rent a plane with a sign dragging behind it and fly it over Chicago. Sure would be cheaper. Plus, more people'd see it.