When summer arrives, the traditional belief is that people turn away from their screens and venture outdoors to enjoy the sunshine and the warmer temperature. However, each year an intriguing trend emerges — cable television garners more viewership than its broadcast counterparts during the summer months.
Digging into set-top box viewing, the a4 research team found that Optimum households spent an impressive 225+ million hours watching ad-insertable cable networks each month during June, July, and August in 2022, down only 3% compared to the rest of the year. In comparison, these same households spent a monthly average of 69.4 million hours on the big five broadcast networks during those summer months, down 17% compared to the non-summer months.
While summer weather encourages outdoor activities and adventures, not everyone has the same preferences, and for some, relaxation and entertainment come in the form of watching television. This explains why television, in general, doesn’t take a huge summer dip, but we will dig into the factors that contribute to this intriguing trend of high cable viewership in the summer.
The summer months are packed with exciting sporting events, including baseball, tennis, golf, and motorsports. Summer is also a time when several major events take place, such as the Olympics, and international soccer tournaments like the World Cup.
Cable television often holds exclusive rights to a large portion of these events, attracting dedicated sports fans eager to watch live games, tournaments, and commentary. This makes cable TV the go-to source for sports content during the summer.
The perception that summer is a television “drought” is no longer accurate. Cable television networks have embraced the concept of exclusive programming during the summer season. Recognizing the opportunity to captivate viewers during a traditionally slower period, they introduce a wide array of original series, including gripping dramas, reality shows, and engaging documentaries.
Viewers who have specific interests, such as science fiction or cooking, find cable networks as a source for tailored programming. These exclusive offerings attract audiences seeking fresh content and unique storytelling, giving cable TV an edge over broadcast networks.
Discovery Channel’s Shark Week is just one example of binge-worthy summer programming that viewers look forward to each July. 2022 viewership was up 10% over the previous year and made Discovery the No. 1 network during that slot.
Summer can often bring a change in routines, with school breaks, vacations, and flexible work hours. Cable television has evolved with the rise of on-demand viewing options. Many cable providers now offer on-demand services and streaming platforms that allow viewers to access their favorite cable shows at their convenience, on any device they choose. This flexibility aligns with the summer mindset, as people embrace changes in routine while still being able to catch up on missed episodes or binge-watch entire seasons.
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So, whether it’s enjoying your favorite island dating series, staying up-to-date with comprehensive baseball coverage, or simply seeking to escape the heat, cable television remains a consistent companion that continues to capture viewers’ attention throughout the summer. Our conclusion is clear — the key to successful advertising is being where your customer is. Let us help you reach your target audience on every device, no matter where they tune in this summer.
Source: Optimum STB Data; 2022 Calendar Months; Summer Months = June, July, August
This article was written by Jenna Walker.