New study: 20-percent decline in family-friendly TV shows

by Michael Foust, |
NBC's family-friendly show "The Wiz Live!" drew more than 11.5 million viewers earlier this month. |

LOS ANGELES (Christian Examiner) – If you're a parent who believes there's less family-friendly programming on television than just a few years ago, you now have data to back it up.

Programming for families shouldn't just be a once-a-year endeavor.

It's not just your imagination.

According to a study released this month from the Parents Television Council (PTC), TV-PG programming declined nearly 20 percent during the first two weeks of November 2014 compared to the same two-week stretch in November 2011 on broadcast television. Both timeframes took place during "sweeps weeks."

Many programs aimed at families carry a TV-PG ranking, with adult-themed programming often rated TV-14 and TV-MA.

PTC released the data on the heels of the ratings success of NBC's family-friendly "The Wiz Live!," which drew in 11.5 million viewers and gave NBC its best Thursday night in two years, reported. It aired Dec. 3. In fact, the most recent Thursday night ratings smash for NBC was 2013's the "Sound of Music Live!," also aimed at families. "The Wiz Live!" was a version of "The Wizard of Oz."

The PTC said it is renewing calls for broadcasters to increase their programming for families throughout the year, and not just during holidays.

"NBC followed the yellow brick road towards ratings success with 'The Wiz Live!' this December, and we offer our congratulations to all involved in making it a program that families could watch together. NBC also scored big with 'Peter Pan' and 'The Sound of Music Live!' the last few years," said PTC President Tim Winter. "CBS has aired re-runs of 'I Love Lucy' to ratings success. What those examples have in common is that they are safe and enjoyable for families to watch together."

"Unfortunately," Winter added, "the broadcast networks don't program enough for families the rest of the year."

"The Wiz Live!" was rated TV-G. Winter bemoaned that there "are no TV-G rated primetime broadcast TV series left."

"Programming for families shouldn't just be a once-a-year endeavor," Winter said. "After all, it's a winning solution for the networks, the advertisers, and the audience. We urge the broadcast networks to change course and consider the important family audience in 2016 and beyond."