The NFL’s ratings-decline story for this season tagged along for the conference championship games last week. But regardless of what the postseason holds in store, the NFL can rest assured knowing it dominated ad spending in December.
According to Standard Media Index, the NFL accounted for 16.4% of all television ad spending in December. However, the NFL’s amount of ad spending for December was down 3% from the same month in 2016.
On the whole, national television ad spending in December rose 1.1% annually due to a 1.9% increase in cable offsetting a 0.1% increase in broadcast. Cable news rose 27.2% overall, with ad spending up 23.4% at FOX News, 35.6% at CNN, and 56.9% at MSNBC. But news programming on broadcast declined 1% during the month as NBC News programming fell 2.8% in December, in the wake of the firing of Matt Lauer. NBC's “Today,” which Lauer hosted, fell 24% in December.
During the fourth quarter, national television ad spending declined 0.1% with cable down 0.4% and broadcast up 0.5%. NBC led primetime entertainment growth for the quarter, rising 5.6% thanks to drama “This Is Us,” which earned the highest spend of all primetime dramas in the fourth quarter, according to SMI.
For the entire year, cable TV dropped 2.4% and broadcast TV declined 3.9%. CBS, NBC, ABC, FOX and ESPN were the top five networks, accounting for a combined 42.4% of all national television ad dollars. CBS fell 4.2% year-over-year without the Super Bowl. FOX, which did get the Super Bowl last year, posted a 14.2% increase year-over-year growth. Meanwhile, ABC fell 2.3% and NBC fell 15.5%, entirely due to the impact of Olympics in 2016.