As expected, the impact of no Olympics coverage in 2017 is hitting hard, dropping ad spending on broadcast television by 24% in the third quarter, according to Standard Media Index.
Overall, with cable television ad spending only down 2% during the quarter, national TV ad spending fell 11% in the quarter. Through the first three quarters of the year, broadcast is down 4.6% and cable is down 2.4%.
But September 2017 was a sunnier spot in the quarter for broadcast, with ad spending down 5% compared to the previous year and cable falling 2%.
Entertainment programming bore the brunt of broadcasting’s market in September. Entertainment programming ad spending fell 15% across all networks, and for only the primetime daypart, the big four networks were down 18%. SMI said the decreases were due to changes in premiere schedules across all four networks.
Overall, ABC was hit hardest by the change in programming, falling 20% annually, thanks in part to lost revenue from the Emmys airing on CBS in 2017. As a result, CBS was the only network of the four to increase entertainment spending, up 5% year-over-year. But across daypart and genres CBS was down 7% since it aired two less NFL games in September 2017. NBC and Fox both benefitted from NFL games and saw ad spending during September rise 4% and 5% respectively.
“The big story for September is the pricing and revenue strength of the NFL in the face of soft ratings and PR challenges. The league continues to demonstrate that large, engaged and real audiences are still the number one priority for brands and they are willing to pay a premium for this, “said James Fennessy, CEO of Standard Media Index, in a statement. “Shifts in programming across months and between networks makes comparisons difficult for the entertainment networks in September but we are seeing that a number of major drama originals are really suffering from steep average unit pricing declines off the back of ratings challenges.”
The 2% decrease in ad spending on cable during September was largely due to entertainment and news programming, as ad spending for sports on cable was up 8%.
The NFL Network saw 96% more ad revenue from national, in-game ads thanks to an additional game, and revenue around NCAA Football also increased by 3%. Fox Sports 1 benefitted most from college football with 33% more revenue.
But for the first time since the 2016 election, cable news ad revenue was down, falling 7% across all cable news programs.