TV ad spending in April 2017 was down 1% compared to April 2016 due to a conservative spending trend from large advertisers, according to Standard Media Index.
Broadcast networks saw an 8% increase in advertising year-over-year in April, driven largely a 154% increase in sports programming on broadcast—including CBS airing the final three games of the March Madness tournament, whereas TBS aired them in 2016. The loss of those games on TBS was the biggest contributing factor to the 7% decline in cable ad spending during the month.
Also contributing the higher ad spending on sports during the month were playoffs for both the NBA and NHL. ABC got extra NBA games during the month, while NBC saw an increase in unit costs and number of NHL playoff games aired. But the NBA had fewer games across TNT and ESPN than in April 2016.
All networks showing MLB games saw a 15% increase for in-game ad revenue throughout the month.
“We continue to see a soft ad market with the pull back from the auto and CPG industries really impacting results. Sports programming continues to deliver for the networks and is currently underpinning the health of the TV market. The other bright spot is the continued strength of News programming that is shooting the lights out with sky-high ratings being delivered as the country is transfixed with the drama unfolding in Washington. Entertainment programming for the networks must be a major concern as many big shows are struggling across both broadcast and cable,” said James Fennessy, CEO of Standard Media Index, in a statement.
While sports provides a big lift, entertainment programming suffered. The broadcast entertainment genre lost 15% of spend compared to the same period in 2016.
CBS saw the biggest annual loss in the primetime entertainmentm, but Fox also saw a significant drop thanks to the loss of “American Idol.”