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Teen viewing habits drive down TV ratings

Viewership is down 11 percent across the major broadcast networks this fall TV season.

Fall is the time of year to launch new TV shows, and now, just a couple weeks into the new fall season, viewership is down.

Stu Levine, who covers TV and movies for Variety, says age plays a factor in how viewers watch TV. He says young watchers tune in on their cellphones or watch on the Internet, "they don't sit in the living room and watch a TV show at eight o'clock like the older viewers do."

Network executives say that with changing technology, the metrics we use to measure viewers may not accurately measure how many people are actually watching. Levine agrees, "so many people are watching their shows on DVR," and often watch two or three days later, he says. "So when the initial numbers come out the next day, those viewers aren't included in that."

Broadcasters, therefore, may be looking at the numbers differently and may not be in panic mode as a result of these fall ratings.

"As long as the viewership is there, I don't think they are that concerned. Even when you are fast-forwarding through the commercials, you still have an image of what the commercial is," says Levine, "while it's not a perfect scenario for the networks, the advertisers know their products are being seen."

About the author

Jeff Horwich is the interim host of Marketplace Morning Report and a sometime-Marketplace reporter.
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