Super Bowl, Olympics predictably boost national TV ad spending for February, SMI says

Super Bowl LII
Super Bowl LII took place Feb. 4 at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Tony Webster/Wikimedia Commons)

With two major sporting events, Super Bowl LII and the 2018 Winter Olympics, happening in February, the national TV ad market got a big boost, according to Standard Media Index.

In February 2018, year-over-year advertising revenue for national TV grew 12%, with an even 12% growth for both cable and broadcast. But even after taking out the spending effect of the Olympics along with the Oscars and the Grammys, national TV still grew 7.6%.

“February was a terrific month for National TV, even putting the success of Olympics to the side. The underlying jump of 7.6% was all down to the power of live Sports as the major broadcasters had big YoY falls in entertainment as they didn’t want to compete with NBC’s Olympics coverage,” said SMI CEO James Fennessy in a statement. “We saw ESPN’s revenue jump significantly with big increases in the NBA, college basketball and SportsCenter. FS1 also saw big gains in NASCAR and college basketball and, to top it off, NBC’s Super Bowl slammed on $20 million more than last year’s event.”

Super Bowl LII, which aired on NBC on Feb. 4, pulled in-game television revenue of $337 million, up 3.4% from last year’s game. Combined linear TV and digital ad revenue for all Super Bowl programming was more than $400 million, according to SMI. NBC’s “This Is Us” also scored a boost from the Super Bowl lead-in with $12 million in TV ad revenue, which SMI said is the highest amount that a single episode of the show has ever earned. Altogether, NBC earned more than $450 million from TV and digital ads on Super Bowl Sunday.

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“The ability of live Sports to attract national advertisers was further reinforced with the great results NBC delivered in Super Bowl LII. While ratings fell 7%, revenue was up significantly and an average 30-second spot rose 3.8%. The move to run 'This Is Us' following the Super Bowl was a masterstroke that achieved an extraordinary unit rate of almost $900k for a 30-second spot, which is more than double its already stellar rate,” Fennessy said.

NBC also had the Winter Olympics in PyeongChang, which took place from Feb. 8 to Feb. 25. The games brought in $903 million of revenue across television and digital platforms, up about 10% from the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi.