Hollywood Strike Was Brutal For Fall 2023 Broadcast Viewership: 'The Golden Bachelor' Helps ABC, Lack Of New Content Crushes CBS

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A strike by writers and actors in Hollywood was one of the biggest entertainment stories of 2023.

The strikes had a big impact on studios, television and other areas of the entertainment sector in 2023 and this could continue into 2024.

What Happened: With a shutdown from actors and writers, movies that were in production or planning stages were pushed back from 2024 to 2025 by major studios.

The shutdown also saw a lack of scripted programming on broadcast networks for the fall 2023 season, which led to lower viewership figures.

New data revealed that the four major broadcast television networks of ABC, CBS, FOX and NBC suffered from the lack of new content. The biggest surprise was Walt Disney Co (NYSE:DIS)-owned ABC, which saw year-over-year growth thanks to its "The Golden Bachelor" reality hit and its sports content to offset the impact of its original scripted series.

Here's a look at the ratings, as shared by The Hollywood Reporter:

ABC: Fall 2022 4.07 million average viewers, Fall 2023 4.68 million average viewers, +15% year-over-year

CBS: Fall 2022 5.96 million average viewers, Fall 2023 4.05 million average viewers, -32%

Fox: Fall 2022 4.66 million average viewers, Fall 2023 3.42 million average viewers, -27%

NBC: Fall 2022 6.77 million average viewers, Fall 2023 6.50 million average viewers, -4%

Paramount Global (NASDAQ:PARA)(NASDAQ:PARAA)-owned CBS was hurt the worst of the four companies with a 32% decline from the previous fall.

Fox Corporation (NASDAQ:FOX)(NASDAQ:FOXA) saw a 27% decline for its Fox channel.

NBC, which is owned by Comcast Corporation (NASDAQ:CMCSA), saw a 4% decline and less of an impact thanks to its sports content.

The list also breaks down viewership when excluding news and sports.

ABC: 2022 3.84 million average viewers, 2023 3.62 million average viewers, -6% year-over-year

CBS: 2022 5.70 million average viewers, 2023 3.58 million average viewers, -37%

Fox: 2022 3.01 million average viewers, 2023 1.98 million average viewers, -34%

NBC: 2022 5.01 million average viewers, 2023 4.28 million average viewers, -15%  

Related Link: Paramount, Warner Bros. Discovery Merger Is ‘Not The Answer’: Analysts Highlight Deal Positives, Negatives

Why It's Important: The Hollywood strike saw many of the top shows not air in the fall season.

The Hollywood Reporter estimated that around 200 episodes of scripted series in the fall were missed by ABC, CBS, FOX and NBC combined.

The data showed the impact sports, specifically National Football League games, have one the fall television schedule.

ABC aired more Monday Night Football games than normal with an average of 10 million viewers, which is significantly better than its 4.13 million average for Monday nights last fall.

Sunday Night Football on NBC averaged 19.6 million viewers during the time period, which is up 10% year-over-year. NBC also aired several Big Ten and Notre Dame NCAA Football games during the fall 2023 schedule.

"The Golden Bachelor" was a breakout hit for ABC, which came during a season when many broadcast networks upped their amount of reality television content to work around strikes.

For CBS, the network also got a surprise hit with "NCIS: Sydney," an extension of its top NCIS television franchise. The series was locally filmed in Australia and was planned for broadcast only in that country, but was later added to the CBS lineup to fill holes left by the strikes. The show was one of the most-watched programs of the fall season.

The good news for media companies and viewers is the return of most series in 2024, which could see the year start with a ton of content.

The question will be if unusual release schedules or shows being out of their normal viewing season could impact overall ratings.

Read Next: Global Box Office 2024 To Decline 5% In 2023: Bad News For AMC, Cinemark?

Photo: Shutterstock

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