U.S. cable channels including MTV and CNN have grabbed the lead in younger viewers from broadcast networks sooner this season than ever before.
Cable channels captured 42.3 percent of adult viewers ages 18 to 49, those most sought by advertisers, according to a study of Nielsen Media Research data by Time Warner Inc. (TWX:US)'s Turner Broadcasting. The seven broadcast networks had 41.7 percent.
``It's the earliest in the season that cable out-delivered broadcast'' in that age group, Jack Wakshlag, Turner's chief research officer, said at a presentation in New York. Wakshlag said he can't predict the rest of the season because the Turin Olympic Games in February will boost broadcast ratings.
Advertiser-backed U.S. cable channels have beaten the seven broadcast networks in total household share of primetime viewers for four straight years. Now they're also luring coveted 18-to- 49-year-olds with shows such as ``The Closer'' on Time Warner's TNT and ``Battlestar Galactica'' on General Electric Co. (GE:US)'s Sci Fi Channel, the top two shows on cable for that age group.
Nielsen will start including the viewing habits of people with digital video recorders in ratings on Dec. 26 and gradually increase the number of its meters into homes with DVRs next year.
The impact on ratings will be to predict, Wakshlag said. ``The numbers literally cannot be very different'' as homes with DVRs account for 6.5 percent of the total.
CNN is operated by Time Warner and MTV is owned by Viacom Inc.
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