NCTA's Favorite Programming Moments of 2018
As the year comes to a close and audiences gear up for the great television that lies ahead in 2019, let's take a moment to reflect on a few of the milestones achieved in 2018. While there were many, NCTA compiled the top five moments in programming it covered here over the past 12 months. Live streaming broke more records this year, and cable TV networks came out with innovative storytelling that won audiences over time and time again. There's no telling what the new year will bring, but if 2018 is any indication, the future looks bright for TV viewers everywhere.
This year's Olympic Winter Games in Pyeong Chang brought several firsts in coverage of the sporting event by NBC Sports Digital, to the delight of viewers worldwide. Coverage included streaming on connected TVs—such as Amazon Fire, Apply TV and Comcast X1—, "enhanced streaming" that used alternative camera views and shots to give audiences new perspectives during key moments of competition, and more than 50 hours of virtual reality coverage. The total streamed minutes of the games came in over 2 billion, more than triple the amount of minutes streamed during the 2014 Winter Games. Sports coverage becomes more comprehensive and immersive each go around as viewers have more devices to tune in and so many more different ways to watch, and the 2018 Winter Games more than lived up to expectation.
BBC America found a rare gem in Killing Eve, a drama series about an M15 agent hunting down a psychopathic assassin, which it premiered in early April. The thriller's plot pulled in more viewers week after week, thanks to a unique storyline that explored feminist themes and to lauded performances by lead actors Sandra Oh and Jodie Comer. The show turned out to be a ratings rarity in today's competitive TV marketplace. Even as well-known programming giants like HBO's Westworld and the NBA Eastern Conference tournament aired around the same time, the show still managed to grow its audience up 86 percent from its first episode to over 1.25 million viewers. It's no surprise that Killing Eve was renewed for a second season, set to premiere in the spring, and fans couldn't be more excited.
FIFA World Cup
There are few sporting competitions in the world that can unify communities and entire countries like the FIFA World Cup does, and the 2018 event was no different. Televised by Fox Sports and Telemundo, the soccer competition broke records when it came to livestreaming coverage and social media viewing. This was also the first time that Telemundo aired the tournament, and it went big. The network aired more than 1,500 hours of coverage, including a virtual reality experience, and sent all of its announcers to report live from Russia in order to "give the fans an authentic experience," as Telemundo Deportes President Ray Warren told NCTA earlier this year. Let's just make sure the USA team qualifies next time!
FX's musical dance drama, Pose, premiered in June, and while it missed the cutoff to be eligible for Emmy nominations this year, the 2019 awards show just might see the cast and crew walk away with quite a few wins. Pose broke down major barriers with its cast of over 50 transgender characters—the largest number ever seen for a U.S. narrative television series. According to GLAAD's annual "Where We Are on TV" report, which evaluates the inclusion and recognition of LGBTQ characters on television and in the media, Pose helped expand the representation of transgender people through not only increasing the number of transgender characters seen on television, but also by airing groundbreaking stories about the struggles that transgender people face over identity and social acceptance. As GLAAD President and CEO Sarah Kate Ellis put it, "Pose is a master class of storytelling that entertains and moves audiences by finally putting the beautiful diversity of the LGBTQ community front and center."
Midterm Elections and the C-SPAN Bus Turns 25
The midterm elections of 2018 were highly anticipated, and C-SPAN was there every step of the way to document and air comprehensive coverage of rallies and speeches from every region of the country, and as they happened. C-SPAN stands apart from any other network for providing audiences with uninterrupted and uneditorialized coverage of debates and congressional proceedings, and at no other time is this type of political journalism more important than during an election season. To top it off, the C-SPAN Bus Program turned 25 and celebrated its anniversary by going on a "50 Capitals Tour" this year—just in time to reach people all over the country and to encourage them to make a difference through fulfilling their civic duties.