Conservatives Attempt to Politicize Television Ratings

Those on the right who blame the “Hollywood elite” for much that is wrong in this country decided to take a victory lap this week when it was announced that the television ratings for the Academy Awards were down. For example, Fox News suggested the drop was related to the fact that the Oscars were “politically charged.” Trump seemed particularly gleeful about the news.

After the president decided to make an issue of players who kneeled during the national anthem, he also reveled in the fact that television ratings for the NFL were down.

These days, even television ratings are being politicized by conservatives. But something else starts to come into focus when you peruse headlines like this:

2018 Winter Olympics Close Out as Least-Watched on Record

Grammy Ratings Hit All-Time Demo Low

Daytona 500 overnight TV ratings likely the worst in race’s history

Super Bowl TV viewership lowest since 2009

It’s becoming clear that there is a pattern going on and it’s not just affecting major sporting/entertainment events.

…the four major networks are down an average 8% in prime time.

NBC is down 4%, CBS is down 6%, ABC is down 11%, and Fox’s prime time viewership dropped 20% through the first month of the new TV season, according to Nielsen data. And those numbers are down despite the inclusion of live sporting events, which usually bring in big audiences.

Apart from politicians and pundits who are attempting to politicize what’s going on, most people are aware of the bigger picture.

Here is what is creating that niche world:

The landscape has become incredibly fragmented, thanks to a flood of programming and competition from streaming services and from the internet…Television, Netflix, Hulu and Amazon are all vying for the same eyeballs, and there are no signs that the deluge of programming will ebb any time soon.

The entire entertainment world is being transformed by technology. We are long past the days when network television and the Neilsen ratings that drove advertising dollars sat at the center of that universe. I guess it shouldn’t surprise us that the same people who pine for the good old days of America’s past don’t seem to understand that and, instead, attempt to politicize ratings that are no longer terribly relevant.

Nancy LeTourneau

Nancy LeTourneau is a contributing writer for the Washington Monthly.