CBS Prime-Time Viewers Shrink 4.7% After Cable Shutoff

CBS Corp.’s television network lost about 4.7 percent of its prime-time audience in the first week after a dispute with Time Warner Cable Inc. led to a blackout of about 3 million homes.

CBS, the most-watched U.S. TV network, averaged 5.51 million viewers in the week ended Aug. 11, down from 5.78 million in the previous seven days, according to data supplied by Nielsen. The network’s top-rated “Under the Dome” drama drew 10.4 million viewers, 1 million less than a week before.

As the blackout stretches into a second week, CBS viewers in New York, Los Angeles and Dallas remain unable to watch the network’s lineup or local stations. Time Warner Cable cut access to the media company’s programming, including the Showtime premium channel, on Aug. 2 after failing to agree on retransmission fees for the broadcast network.

“The ratings impact from the blackout is estimated at only 1 percent,” Chris Ender, a spokesman for CBS, said in an e-mail yesterday. “We were the number one network last week in all key ratings categories; I’d say we’re holding up pretty well.”

“Under the Dome,” which began airing on June 24, has contributed to a year-over-year increase in ratings. CBS remained the most-watched network during the week of the blackout, according to Nielsen data, with viewership up 34 percent from the same week a year earlier.

“Right now they are doing OK,” Brad Adgate, head of research for the advertising company Horizon Media Inc., said in an e-mail. “If this impasse continues into the NFL and new TV season in September, their fortunes could reverse.”

The Time Warner Cable subscribers affected by the blackout account for about 2.8 percent of U.S. homes with televisions.

CBS, controlled by Chairman Sumner Redstone, was little changed at $53.65 at the close in New York yesterday. The stock has gained 41 percent this year. Time Warner Cable rose 0.5 percent to $113.80 at the close and is up 17 percent. Both are based in New York.

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