Major Networks Report Rating Decreases in 2023

Major Networks Report Rating Decreases in 2023

By Movieguide® Contributor

Networks are reporting rating declines across the board for 2023.

“As basic cable gets zombified, the double-digit declines continue,” Variety reported. “Live sports, of course, is saving the broadcast networks and some cable networks still in that game.”

NBC topped the list of most-watched networks this year, with 4,537,000 viewers, but that was a 12% drop from last year. CBS, in second place, also reported a 12% decrease in viewers.

ABC and Fox rounded out the top four, with 1% and 4% increases in viewership, respectively. 

Scripted network shows are falling behind in the ratings game, but shows like YELLOWSTONE have proven there are some exceptions to the rule. 

The Paramount Western ended its fourth season as “the only non-sports show to average over 10 million viewers a week — at 11.6 million,” per Variety. 

It appears that audiences are more interested in older content. The fastest growing broadcast TV network of 2023 was Grit, a channel that airs old Western movies and TV shows, like DEATH VALLEY DAYS and THE LONE RANGER. 

Some of these ratings decreases are also due to the WGA and SAG-AFTRA strikes. 

“Networks are trying to fill gaps created when Hollywood writers walked off the job in May, shutting down comedy and drama sets just as they were gearing up to film fall shows,” Reuters reported. “Actors joined the picket lines in July for the first dual Hollywood work stoppage in 63 years.”

Many networks had to rely on whatever projects they already had completed, with game shows and other reality fare added into the mix. 

Movieguide® previously reported on networks’ efforts to start rolling out new content right away in 2024:

Now that the WGA strikes are over, when can fans expect to see new episodes of favorite shows like ABBOTT ELEMENTARY and 911: LONE STAR?

The Hollywood Reporter revealed that the five major networks—ABC, CBS, Fox, NBC and The CW—are already putting writers’ rooms together for successful shows. 

“According to multiple sources familiar with the myriad plans in place at each network—which all hinge on the timing for when the actors’ strike may be resolved—scripted comedies and dramas could begin rolling out as early as January,” they continued

While popular scripted shows are still working to get back on track, networks have padded their lineups with plenty of reality programming. 

Deadline reported network TV schedules are “heavy with reality and other unscripted fare like game shows,” like PRESS YOUR LUCK, CELEBRITY SQUARES and PENN & TELLER: FOOL US.