Total Broadcast Spot Prices Dip, Less Scatter Demand
Broadcast networks' cost-per-thousand viewer prices have been steadily rising for years. But due to overall lower ratings, total out-of-pocket
pricing for a 30-second spot can't make the same claim.
The average cost for a 30-second announcement dipped 2% in the first quarter to $111,754 on broadcast network television, according to a report from media agency TargetCast tcm and SQAD's NetCosts research. A year ago, the first-quarter 2011 price was $114,079.
Fox -- still the leader when it comes to the demographic advertisers want most, 18-49 viewers -- got the highest price for a 30-second spot, $198,088. CBS was next at $115,772; ABC was at $95,992; and NBC was fourth at $86,914.
Alhough TargetCast says this makes eight consecutive quarters -- two years -- where costs were virtually flat or increased, this isn't the long-term trend. In recent years, network unit costs had been experiencing significant declines, due to lower ratings, the growth of cable and an economy in recession.
The recent positive results came from a healthy 2011-2012 upfront selling season where
networks got sky-high 9% to 15% price hikes. In addition, there have been high sell-out levels this past season due to the strong upfront activity last year.
Recent scatter market activity has seen less big price gains, says Gary Carr, senior vice president and executive director of national broadcast at TargetCast. He says there was less demand for scatter, which combined with relatively flat ratings kept unit prices stable. TargetCast notes that network prime-time adult 25-54 ratings were virtually unchanged from last year.
Cable ad-supported cable networks, by contrast, grew 3% -- but not as fast as in previous periods. The top 15 cable networks for adults 25-54 had an average $13,000 for a 30-second commercial. ESPN grabbed the most, $37,329; TNT was next at $18,071. TargetCast says the top 15 networks for adults 25-54 witnessed a 4% gain in ratings.